Acer Iconia Tab 8 Review

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Editors' rating:
The Pros

Wide port selection; Helpful gestures to wake from sleep

The Cons

Short battery life; Poor camera quality; Soft audio; Dim screen

Verdict

The Acer Iconia Tab 8 gives you a full-HD 8-inch display for an affordable price, but its short battery life and dim screen sink it.

As smartphones get larger, is there still a market for midsize tablets? Acer's 8-inch Iconia Tab 8 tries to make the case for this category. This $199 Intel-powered slate has a full-HD display, unique touch controls and a micro HDMI port that will let you connect it to your large-screen TV. But even if you're in the market for a tablet this size, there are a few reasons the Iconia Tab 8 isn't the one you should get.

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Design

The Acer Iconia Tab 8 sports a fairly attractive white-and-silver plastic frame. A 2-megapixel camera sits just off-center on the top right of the white bezel that surrounds the 8-inch display on the front.

When you flip the tablet over, you'll notice the 5-MP camera that protrudes from the top center. A speaker row lines the bottom back. Along the right, curved edge, you'll find the power button and a volume rocker, and the left houses a microSD card slot that can support up to 32GB.

Micro HDMI and micro USB ports oddly sit next to the headphone jack on the top edge, instead of the more common bottom placement. It was refreshing to see a micro HDMI port, as you don't often see that as an option on a tablet at this price.

At 12.6 ounces, the Tab 8 also has a bit of a weight problem, when you compare it against other 8-inch slates. I felt strain on my arm during long sessions of play. In comparison, the Dell Venue 8 measures 8.5 x 5.1 x 0.35 inches and weighs 11.8 ounces, while the Asus MeMO Pad 8 sports slimmer dimensions of 8.3 x 4.9 x 0.33 inches and weighs 11.34 ounces.

Display

The 8-inch 1920 x 1200-pixel IPS screen on the Iconia Tab 8 isn't the brightest bulb in the box, nor is it the most color accurate. The red and orange of Bryce Dallas Howard's hair in an 1080p trailer for Jurassic World wasn't as deep or fiery as it could have been, and left an overall dusty and flat feeling. But I could still make out the yellow eyes of the Velociraptors that run with Chris Pratt.

We measured 290 nits of brightness on the Tab 8, which is quite a bit dimmer than the tablet average of 336 nits. The Dell Venue 8 (1920 x 1200p) measured 352 nits, and the MeMO Pad 8 (1280 x 800p) registered 376 nits.

Using a colorimeter, we measured a Delta-E rating of 8.7 on the Iconia Tab 8 (0 is perfect), which is terribly inaccurate and too far above the category average of 5.8. The Venue 8's 3.8 would definitely be preferable, and the MeMO Pad 8 (7.2) also fared better.

Acer's new 8-inch tablet displays 78.8 percent of the sRGB color gamut, which is lower than the tablet average of 85 percent, but still beats out the Dell (73.4 percent) and the Asus (72 percent) in terms of color accuracy.

Indoors, viewing angles on the Iconia Tab 8 were very good, with clear images coming through at nearly 90 degrees to the side. However, when viewed in direct sunlight, the screen was indistinguishable from a black slate mirror.

Audio

The stereo speakers on the bottom backside of the Acer Iconia Tab 8 barely filled our small conference room with sound. Plus, what we could hear sounded as if it were coming from a transistor radio.

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When listening to "Banana Pancakes" by Jack Johnson, I heard odd static during pauses in the music. The pervasive bass in "Turn Down for What" by DJ Snake and Lil Jon sounded like a light tap on a doorframe.

On our audio test, in which we measure the volume of a tone played from 13 inches away, the Tab 8 registered 79 decibels. That's lower than the 80 dB tablet average. The Asus MeMO Pad 8 notched 80 dB, while the Dell Venue 8 pumped out a loud 83 dB.

User Interface

The Iconia Tab 8 runs a nearly clean version of Android 4.4.2 KitKat. The icon shortcuts lining the bottom of the screen -- as well as the touch back, home and apps buttons -- will be familiar to any Android fan.

Dragging down from the top left reveals a slightly customized quick settings drawer, mostly for the Acer Touch WakeApp settings. Here, you can configure the tablet so that putting both thumbs on the screen will wake it from sleep, as will touching the screen with all five fingertips. I found both options quick and easy to use, and intuitive enough that I wish this feature were available on more tablets.

Swiping down from the top left reveals your notifications, while dragging up from the bottom launches Google Now. You also get the stock Android keyboard, which supports trace typing.

Performance

Sporting a 1.33-GHz Intel Atom quad-core CPU with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage space, I experienced mostly smooth performance from the Iconia Tab 8. I had no problems when using Chrome, Gmail, Maps and YouTube. There was a slight lag, however, when I switched from landscape to portrait modes, and N.O.V.A. 3 crashed on me twice after about 5 minutes of gameplay.

On the VidTrim test, in which we transcode a 204MB, 1080p video to 480p, the Tab 8 took 5 minutes and 27 seconds. That's considerably speedier than the tablet average of 9:12. The Acer is a hair faster than the MeMO Pad 8 (5:22) and beats the Venue 8 (6:33).

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In synthetic benchmark tests, the Iconia Tab 8 delivered middle-of-the-road performance. On Geekbench 3, which measures multicore performance, the Iconia Tab 8 notched 2,260. While that's better than the 1,470 on the Venue 8, it's less than the MeMO Pad 8's 2,398 score and the tablet average of 2,400.

To gauge graphics performance, we ran 3DMark Ice Store Unlimited on the Tab 8. Its score of 16,729 beats the average of 13,046, as well as the Venue 8 (9,666) and MeMO Pad 8 (13,754).

Camera

Similar to the Dell Venue 8 and MeMO Pad 8, the Acer Iconia Tab 8 has a 5-MP rear camera and a 2-MP front camera. Sadly, neither shooters is up to snuff.

Orange and red bushes shot with the 5-MP rear camera on a very sunny day looked pretty, but the reds and whites were overly saturated. Plus, the edges of the leaves looked soft and a bit fuzzy. Similarly, the blue of the New York City skyline appeared almost white.

The selfie I took with the 2-MP front camera made me look like I had rosacea, and as though my hair were little more than a mess of fuzz surrounding my face. I probably wouldn't Skype with this camera.

Apps

Acer bundles a handful of its own software on the Iconia Tab 8, including its basic camera app and Acer Portal. Through the Portal, you can "build your own cloud" using Acer-branded apps for photos, documents, music and files.

The abPhoto app auto-archives pictures you take with the tablet onto your home PC, and it has no file-size limits. Through the abMusic app, you can stream your home music collection from your PC to your tablet, and download the tunes onto the Iconia Tab 8 if you want. The abFiles and abDocuments apps do pretty much the same thing, but with your nonaudio files.

You also get the standard set of Android apps, such as Chrome, Gmail, Hangouts, Drive and Google+. Third-party titles include Kindle, Evernote, Booking.com Hotels, Astro File Manager and a free trial of MobiSystems OfficeSuite 7 Pro.

More than 1 million apps and games are available on the Iconia Tab 8 through the Google Play store. Also on this tablet is the Amazon App Store, which is a more curated list of many of the same Android apps.

Battery Life

On our Laptop Mag Battery Test, which involves continuous Web surfing on 150 nits of brightness over Wi-Fi, the Iconia Tab 8 lasted 6 hours and 53 minutes.

That's a woefully short amount of time, considering the tablet average is 8:37. The Dell Venue 8 lasted 7:57, and the ASUS MeMO Pad 8 endured for 9:02.

Bottom Line

At $199, the Iconia Tab 8 looks, on paper, like it would be a decent deal for an 8-inch Android tablet. However, it doesn't last long enough on a charge, and the screen is too dim. While not as powerful, the Dell Venue 8 offers a brighter display and much longer battery life for the same price. If you can live with a lower-resolution screen, try the ASUS MeMO Pad 8, which lasts even longer on a charge. Ultimately, the Acer Iconia Tab 8 simply doesn't offer enough for the money.

 

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Author Bio
Anna Attkisson
Anna Attkisson, Managing Editor
A lover of lists and deadlines, Anna Attkisson heads up features and special projects for Laptopmag.com, in addition to covering social networking and accessories. She joined the LAPTOP staff in 2007, after working at Time Inc. Content Solutions where she created custom publications for companies from American Express to National Parks Foundation.
Anna Attkisson, Managing Editor on
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CPU 1.33-GHz Intel Atom quad-core CPU
RAM Included 2GB
RAM Upgradeable
Storage Drive Size 16GB
Storage Drive Type Flash Memory
Display Size 8
Display Resolution 1920 x 1200
Graphics Chip
Graphics Memory
Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n
Has Bluetooth Yes
OS Android 4.4.2
Camera Resolution 5MP
Front-Facing Camera Resolution 2.0MP
Ports Microphone/Headphone
Ports microUSB
Ports microHDMI
USB Ports
Card Readers microSD
Card Reader Size 32GB
Warranty / Support
Size 8.5 x 5.1 x 0.33 inches
Weight 12.64 ounces
Company Website us.acer.com
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6 comments
  • Grace Says:

    Do not ever buy Acer tablet anything. It is one thing not to update an android tablet. It is all together a different thing to leave this A1-840fhd tablet in android 4.4.2 with Stagefright vulnerabilities and NEVER ISSUE A SECURITY PATCH. I will never buy acer again.

  • TheBlindBandit Says:

    Screen is not dim. You can turn up the brightness, smart one. I never have the brightness up anyways.

  • BobAtom Says:

    I do not know if it is the "emperors new clothes" syndrome, or fanboy/fangirl-itis. Peer pressure maybe?
    I have a Galaxy Tab S and Tab 4 and all reviewers trash the tab 4, love the Tab S. The tab S screen is great, but the tab 4 is more than sufficient for most viewing. I bought the Tab S mostly for reading and watching movies. After getting the Iconia, I do not use the Tab S for reading or movies, the approximately 280 DPI of the Iconia is more than sufficient for reading and the color issues are not for me when I watch movies/connect to a TV.
    You cannot get a better tablet than this for the price ($149 at Costco). Casting/screen mirroring is sketchy at best. The mini HDMI port ALONE is worth the price of this tablet! Disable unneeded apps and the battery life increases. Turn off location and battery life increases. Still not great battery life, but acceptable. Sound for me is NEVER a concern. When I am in a place where I can listen to the tablet via speaker, I always use a Bluetooth speaker. Cannot beat a HK Onyx Studio 2. That beats any tablets speakers, no?

  • Philip Says:

    Terrible review, you donĀ“t get better than this for the price range, i have this tablet for almost a year and is still a fast machine with an amazing screen.
    I wonder if all the reviewers are payed by the big brands to justify people to pay 600 euros for a tablet. This screen is amazing and not dim like the reviewer says.

  • Fliss Says:

    I haven't brought the tablet yet,I'm still doing research I need to know whether I can get Minecraft Pocket Edition on this tablet. Thanks.

  • Chris Mortland Says:

    I have this tablet it isn't what you're saying it is.

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