It wasn't long ago that a usable tablet from a major brand would cost several hundred dollars. Today, however, there are a number of high-quality slates available for well under $150. The new $129 Acer Iconia One 7 has an attractive, colorful design and provides a serviceable, but unimpressive, Android experience. This slate gets the job done, but you'll have to make sacrifices, particularly when it comes to image quality and battery life.
Design and Ports
For an inexpensive tablet, the Acer Iconia One 7 doesn't skimp on looks. While its front panel has the same glossy black bezel you'll find on almost every device in this price range, its backside has a modern, ridged texture that felt very pleasant to the touch. Acer sells the Iconia One 7 with 10 different panel colors: red, yellow, green, pink, orange, purple, black and white, and two shades of blue. The back panel is not removable so there's no way to change colors.
At 7.8 x 4.7 x 0.35 inches and 11.3 ounces, the Acer Iconia One 7 is about the same size as the ASUS MeMO Pad HD 7 (7.7 x 4.7 x 0.4 inches, 11 ounces), but slightly heavier than the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX (7.3 x 5 x 0.35 inches, 10.7 ounces) and Google Nexus 7 (7.9 x 4.5 x 0.34 inches, 10.2 ounces).
Like many of its competitors, the Acer Iconia One 7 has a standard microUSB port that it uses for charging, which means you can use any standard cable to charge it. It also has a microSD card slot that lets you add up to 64GB of storage.
The Iconia One 7 is also one of the dimmer tablets on the market, registering just 269 lux (280 nits) on our light meter, well below the 343-lux category average, the 358-lux ASUS MeMO Pad HD 7, the 480-lux Kindle Fire HDX and the 531-lux Google Nexus 7.
Though the picture washed out only slightly when we viewed the screen from the extreme left or right, it was very difficult to see the screen outdoors, even on an overcast day. The display's extremely glossy surface made it far too easy for us to see our fingerprints when holding the tablet under direct light.
The Iconia One 7's rear-facing speaker provided surprisingly accurate audio for a tablet this size and price. When we played Michael Jackson's "Love Never Felt So Good," the drums were a little tinny but the vocals and other instruments seemed loud and clear. Even the guitar-heavy "Beat It" sounded pleasant and true with little hint of tin.
The Iconia One 7 was quite loud at maximum volume, measuring 82 decibels on the Laptop Audio test, well above the 78.7 dB category average, the 73-dB Nexus 7 and the 77-dB Kindle Fire HDX. The ASUS MeMO Pad HD 7 was loud enough to reach 91 decibels.
Software and Interface
The company also throws in a heavy helping of third-party bloatware, including the AccuWeather app, Booking.com travel app, Audible, Evernote, WildTangent games, McAfee Mobile Security and Zinio's digital newstand. Acer includes not one, but five different Amazon branded apps: Amazon shopping, Amazon Kindle eReader, Amazon Local, Amazon MP3 and Amazon Appstore.
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The One 7 notched a fairly good 5,790 on Quadrant, which measures overall performance. This score falls a bit below the 6,897 tablet average, but is better than the 1.5-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon Pro-powered Google Nexus 7 (4,949) and the 1.2-GHz MediaTek MT8125-powered ASUS MeMO Pad HD 7 (3,414). However, the Kindle Fire HDX and its 2.2-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor scored an epic 19,924.
Though we had no problems gaming on the Iconia One 7, it scored a mediocre 6,042 on the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited graphics benchmark, quite a bit lower than the 9,234 tablet category average. Both the Nexus 7 (10,624) and Kindle Fire HDX (16,201) scored higher. However, the ASUS MeMO Pad HD 7 mustered a much-lower 2,218.
The Acer Iconia One 7 lasted a modest 6 hours and 36 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which involves continuous surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness. That's an hour and a half less than the tablet category average, more than 3 hours less than the ASUS MeMO Pad HD 7 (9:40) and nearly 5 hours behind the Google Nexus 7 (11:27)
For $100 more, the Kindle Fire HDX and Google Nexus 7 offer vastly superior performance and battery life. However, if you're looking for one of the least expensive Android tablets on the market, the Acer Iconia One 7 is worth considering.
|CPU||1.6-GHz Intel Atom Z2560|
|Storage Drive Size||16GB|
|Storage Drive Type||Flash Memory|
|Display Resolution||1280 x 800|
|Front-Facing Camera Resolution||2.0MP|
|Card Reader Size||64GB|
|Warranty / Support||One year|
|Size||4.72 x 7.78 x .35 inches|