Acer Iconia Tab A200 Android tablet
Acer Iconia Tab A200 review: Acer aims to compete on price with the $349 Iconia Tab A200, a 10.1 Android tablet
- Competitive price
- Clean and elegant design
- Ring interface a nice touch
- Only 8GB storage
- Screen has poor viewing angles
- No 3G connectivity option
Don't let the Acer Iconia Tab A200's budget price fool you. For less than it's $350 asking price you'll get an Android tablet that does what most other Android tablets will. The dull screen and relatively small hard drive are downsides, but considering the price tag, these are both faults we can live with.
Price$ 349.00 (AUD)
Acer Iconia Tab A200: Software and performance
Acer initially ships the Iconia Tab A200 with the 3.2 Honeycomb version of Google's Android software for tablets, but says the tablet is "Ice Cream Sandwich ready" and will be updated by the end of February. At the time of writing, we had yet to receive a software update to Android 4.0, so all our experiences were based on Android 3.2.
The Australian model of the Iconia Tab A200 ships with a few extra apps over what Google provides by default. These include the Aupeo personal radio, Acer's clear.Fi media suite — which streams music and videos to a DLNA-enabled TV, the LumiRead eBook store, the Acer SocialJogger social media aggregator and McAfee's VirusScan Mobile software.
Of much more benefit than any these extra apps is Acer's "ring interface". Tapping the ring button in the middle of the status bar brings up a quick menu with three customisable shortcuts, a volume control bar and a rotating, 3D carousel of your Browser bookmarks. You can also quickly take a screenshot. It can be a little slow to open at times, but the feature does add a nice usability layer to the Android OS. We also love the shortcuts on the lock screen — you can drag the lock icon to the left into four customisable shortcuts to directly unlock into that particular app.
The Iconia Tab A200 is a fast tablet, though we did experience the occasional slow down when using the Web browser. Speaking of the browser, it still automatically switches to mobile versions of many Web sites. The Iconia A200's home screen also jitters if there are more than a few widgets on the screen. These are all issues with Android's Honeycomb software rather than the tablet itself, so we expect many of them to be resolved once Acer issues the Ice Cream Sandwich update.
An issue that Ice Cream Sandwich won't resolve, however, is Android's third-party apps. There are minimal apps that have been designed with a tablet in mind, so most of them simply expand to fit the larger display of the Iconia Tab A200. There is also no easy way to quickly determine if an app in the Android Market is designed to work on a tablet.
Acer Iconia Tab A200: Other features, battery life
The Acer Iconia Tab A200 only has a small 8GB of internal memory, but the microSD card slot means you can expand that significantly. The full USB port worked reasonably well during testing, but it was often erratic: it worked fine with our 1TB portable hard drive, but did not connect to a 4GB Sony USB stick, for example. The Iconia Tab A200's built-in speaker is poor — we found its volume to be awfully low, so much so that it is virtually impossible to hear unless you're in a dead quiet room.
The Acer Iconia Tab A200's micro-USB port doesn't charge the tablet. Charging is achieved by the included AC adapter: think a smaller version of a round-tipped laptop charger. The main disadvantage is that you'll need this bulky AC adapter to charge the unit, and can't use any old regular micro-USB cable. However, the AC adapter charges the A200 in just over an hour, which is much less than many other Android tablets on the market.
The absence of a 3G connectivity option (the Iconia A200 is a Wi-Fi only tablet) is a downside, as is the lack of a HDMI-out port. Interestingly there's also no rear-facing camera — Acer has only included a front-facing, 1.2-megapixel snapper. We don't necessarily see this as a negative, as the only real use for a camera on a tablet (in our opinion) is video calling through third-party apps like Skype. This is achieved without issue through the front camera on the Iconia Tab A200, even if its quality is far from great.
Acer says the Iconia Tab A200's 3260mAh battery will last around 8 hours, but we experienced slightly less. With moderate use we managed to drain the battery in less than seven hours, though battery life is largely a case-by-case figure and will ultimately depend on your usage patterns.
The Acer Iconia Tab A200 is now available exclusively through Harvey Norman retail stores in Australia for $349.
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PCW Evaluation Team
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