Helpful Acer Ring interface; Solid performance and graphics; Long battery life; Nice soft-touch back; Relatively inexpensive; Full-size USB 2.0 port
Heavier than other 10.1-inch tablets; No rear-facing camera; Annoying port cover
The Acer Iconia Tab A200 delivers solid performance and some welcome interface enhancements to Android for an affordable price.
Acer is out to prove that there's still plenty of room for tablets priced between the ultra-affordable Kindle Fire and the premium iPad 2. The $349 Acer Iconia Tab A200 offers dual-core performance, nifty software enhancments on top of Android and a full-size USB port for connecting peripherals. However, that doesn't mean that the A200 doesn't make some concessions to keep the price relatively low. Read on to find out what kind of deal you're really getting.
DesignSamsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and its 9.7 x 6.7 x 0.3-inch, 1.2-pound frame. At 1.3 pounds, both the iPad 2 (9.5 x 7.3 x 0.3-inches) and ASUS Transformer Prime (10.4 x 7.11 x 0.3-inches) are also slimmer and lighter than the Tab A200.
Still, the A200's thicker size allows for a full-size USB 2.0 port, which can be found on the left along with a mini-USB port, a headphone jack and a chrome power button.
The front face of the Acer Iconia Tab A200 is wrapped in glossy plastic. Chrome-lettered Acer and Inconia Tab insignias pop against the thick black bezel surrounding the 10.1-inch display. A 2.0 megapixel front-facing camera sits centered above the display. It's a much-needed change from the Iconia Tab A500, whose camera was in the upper left-hand corner, which made video chats awkward. The A200's slightly rounded side edges taper into straight, flat light grey panels.
Display and Audio
The A200's 287 lux failed to match the 367 average for Android tablet display brightness. By comparison, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 delivered a gleaming 550 lux, and even in the Asus Transformer Prime's Standard ISP mode, the tablet averaged 348 lux.
Although both keyboards provided mild haptic feedback, we wish we didn't have to switch to an alternate keyboard to access punctuation marks and numbers. Also, we would have appreciated the inclusion of a Swype keyboard for faster text input, as well as easier access to special characters.
Software and Interface
Editor's Note: Acer recently pushed out the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich update to the Iconia Tab A200. We have updated the review to reflect the changes in the tablet's interface and performance.
The lock screen (pictured above) features a large digital clock with the date and battery status on the left and a lock on the right. Pressing and holding the lock reveals four shortcuts that can be configured in Settings. By default, the choices are Browser, Gallery, Google Search and Gmail. We like this feature, which reminds us of what HTC does with Sense. Sliding the lock to the right unlocks the tablet.
As with other Ice Cream Sandwich tablets, the A200 has the standard five homescreens. The initial homescreen features the Digital Clock widget which also displays the date and weather. A set of eight apps sits on the right side of the screen including YouTube, Acer Clear.fi and SoundHound. The remaining screens are blank.
Some - but not all - of ICS' features have made it over to the A200. While you can't unlock the tablet using an image of your face (as you can with ICS phones such as the Galaxy Nexus), the Acer Ring on the lock screen has been preserved. Multitasking is also here, and you can still close apps with a swipe to the left, an intuitive and useful feature.
Icons for Google Search and Voice Search sit in the top left-hand corner while the Apps page icon occupies the right. Light blue buttons for Back, Home and Recent Apps reside on the left side of the bottom system bar. A clock and mini-notifications for Wi-Fi status, battery, downloads and email can be found in the lower right-hand corner.
SoundHound, which is also included, can identify music playing from a nearby speaker, similar to Shazam. We especially liked that it could identify songs that we hummed.
The usual Google apps (Gmail, Maps, Books and Google Talk) are front and center. There's also Android Movie Studio, which allowed us to create rudimentary movies by splicing together stills and video clips. The A200 also includes apps for Google + and Google Messenger, the instant messaging system for Google +. We liked having the same level of interaction with our Google + followers on our tablet that we normally have on a laptop. We easily held group conversations in Messenger and created new circles in +.
Powered by a 1-GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 Dual Core Mobile CPU and backed with 1GB of RAM, the Acer Iconia Tab A200 delivers solid performance and a snappy user experience. The A200 played taxing games such as "Grand Theft Auto III" with ease despite streaming music from the Aupeo! app and having multiple tabs in the web browser open.
Apps and menus opened quickly and switching between apps, Web browsers and homescreens was quick and seamless. Multitouch gestures such as pinch-to-zoom and scrolling were also quick. As we zoomed in, though we noticed text and images became fuzzy and took about a second or two to sharpen. When we zoomed out or scrolled up or down a page, we encountered large blank boxes as we waited for the Web page to resize.
During the Benchmark CPU test, which measures overall performance, the A200 scored 3,137, well above the 2,666 Android tablet category average. However, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, which also has a 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 CPU, scored a slightly higher 3,159. The ASUS Transformer Prime and its 1.3-GHz quad core Nvidia Tegra 3 CPU notched 4,097.
When we played graphically demanding games such as "SoulCraft THD," we saw smooth frame rates and great responsiveness. On An3DBench, which measures overall graphics performance, the A200 scored 7,497. That showing beats the 7,171 category average but falls just short of the Galaxy Tab 10.1's 7,526. The Transformer Prime maintained the lead with a score of 8,050.
Camera and Camcorder
As we shot test video of New York City traffic, colors again were bold, including a crystal blue sky, vibrant yellow taxis and our bright red jacket. We did notice the camera took a few seconds to refocus after we panned up to the sky and down to the ground. Although the video was fairly grainy, we were still able to clearly read the signs across the street.
During our video chat on Google Talk, our caller reported loud audio and a clear image with about one to two seconds of lag. We saw grainy images on our end beset with about a second of latency. Despite dialing the volume up to the maximum, we could barely hear our caller.
As mentioned above, the A200 lacks a rear-facing camera, which some may find inconvenient.
The A200 lasted a strong 8 hours and 42 minutes during the LAPTOP Battery Test (continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi). That's 2 hours and 2 minutes longer than the Android tablet average. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 lasted for slightly less time with 8:23. In IPS and Power Saving mode, the Transformer Prime lasted 7:47.
The Acer Iconia Tab A200 comes in either 8GB or 16GB versions for $329 or $349 respectively in your choice of titanium gray or metallic red.
For $150 less than the iPad 2 and the highest-end Android slates, you're giving up a rear-facing camera and a thinner and lighter chassis, something you can get with the 16GB Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 ($431). Others may prefer the original ASUS Eee Pad Transformer ($399), which sports an IPS display with better viewing angles and plugs into an optional keyboard dock. Overall, though, the A200 delivers the best bang for your buck among 10-inch Android tablets.
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|CPU||1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 Dual Core Mobile Processor|
|Storage Drive Size||16GB|
|Storage Drive Type||micro SD Card|
|Display Resolution||1280 x 800|
|Graphics Chip||NVIDIA GeForce|
|Front-Facing Camera Resolution||2.0MP|
|Card Reader Size||32GB|
|Warranty / Support||One-year International Travelers Limited Warranty|
|Size||10.2 x 6.9 x 0.5-inches|