Crisp full HD screen; Long battery life; Useful Ring interface; Relatively affordable;
Thicker and heavier than competition; Right side gets uncomfortably hot; Soft speakers; Few apps are optimized for display
The Acer Iconia Tab A700 sports a high-def display and 8 hours of battery life, but it runs hot and is a little chunkier than the competition.
The resolution arms race is heating up. Hot on the heels of the ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity and the new iPad, the Acer Iconia Tab A700 has emerged from its silo with a megaton of pixels--1920 x 1200, to be exact--and thrust into the stratosphere with an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor. And, this 10-inch tablet costs $449, undercutting the competition by $50. Is this tablet the bargain it seems?
At least the microUSB charging port on the bottom isn't big and clunky, as on Toshiba's tablets. The left side has a power button and headphone jack toward the top, and the upper edge has a volume rocker and lock switch.
As with most tablets, the front is dominated by the screen and a glossy black bezel. The edges, sides and back are covered in a dimpled plastic silver that has a subtle soft touch finish. This would be quite pleasant to hold, if it weren't for one glaring problem, which we'll get to in a moment.
After playing a quick game of "Real Racing 2," the back right side of the tablet--exactly where you place your hand--was scorching hot: After three laps around the track, we measured a temperature of 115 degrees Fahrenheit. It was so uncomfortable that we didn't want to pick up the tablet. Even a game of Solitaire got it up to about 110 degrees. By comparison, playing "Shadowgun" on the ASUS Infinity for an equal amount of time resulted in a temperature of 96 degrees on the back left, which was noticeable, but not uncomfortable.
However, there are two caveats here. First, the A700 lacks a Super IPS mode like the Infinity. As a result, the A700's average brightness is just 309 lux, which is not only below average (347 lux), but beneath that of the Infinity (433), the Toshiba Excite 10 (460) and the new iPad (386).
Also, as we noticed with the Infinity, there just aren't many Android apps optimized for a 1080p display, let alone a 1920 x 1200 screen. This isn't a fault of Acer, but of Android as a platform.
Acer went with the standard Android keyboard on the A700, featuring large gray keys on a black background. While it's hard to reach the center of the tablet with your thumbs, we liked the fact that the keys were a little taller than those on the Transformer Pad Infinity.
Once inside, pressing the small green circle at the bottom of the display opens the second Ring, which also lets you quickly open four apps of your choosing. On the right edge of the ring is a carousel of recently opened Web pages, and on the left is a slider to adjust the volume. While we think the latter is somewhat redundant, overall the Ring interface is useful without being intrusive.
We also like the augmented Notification tab, which allows you to easily toggle a number of the most used settings, such as wireless connections (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS), brightness, auto rotation and sound.
As with most other premium Android tablets, the A700 uses a 1.3-MHz Nvidia Tegra 3 processor backed by 1GB of RAM. Still, on the Benchmark CPU test, the A700's score of 3738 was middling. This bests the Android tablet average by a lot (2,801), as well as the Excite 10 (3,349). However, the Transformer Pad Infinity's faster 1.5-GHz T33 Tegra 3 CPU scored a much higher 5,220.
On the AN3DBench graphics test, the A700's score of 7,829 was about 100 points less than the Infinity (7,937), but 500 points above average. Nothing yet has come close to the Excite 10's score of 10,006.
The A700 has 32GB of internal storage, and can accept microSD cards up to 64GB in size.
Loaded on the Acer is a fine assortment of apps that doesn't feel like bloatware. Acer's own contributions include Acer Print, which lets you send documents wirelessly to a printer on the network, and clear.fi, its multimedia streaming app.
We're also happy to see that the A700 has a copy of VirusScan Mobile preinstalled, too.
Of course, the standard array of Google apps, including Play, YouTube, Music and Video, are also loaded on the A700.
The front-facing 1-MP camera, while less detailed, also accurately showed our skin tones, and will be more than sufficient for video chats.
We suspect the reason for the A700's thickness and weight is to accommodate its capacious 9800mAh battery, which Acer claims will be good for up to 10.5 hours of video playback and up to 8 hours of Web surfing. On the LAPTOP Battery Test (Web surfing via Wi-Fi), the A700 notched almost exactly that--8 hours and 5 minutes. That's more than an hour greater than the average of 6:40, and also beats the Infinity 7:39, but not the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1's time of 9:59.
|CPU||1.3-GHz Nvidia Tegra 3|
|Storage Drive Size||32GB|
|Storage Drive Type||Flash Memory|
|Display Resolution||1920 x 1200|
|Graphics Chip||NVIDIA GeForce|
|Front-Facing Camera Resolution||1MP|
|Card Reader Size||64GB|
|Warranty / Support|
|Size||10.2 x 6.9 x 0.43 inches|