Acer Iconia Tab A110 review

5 Oct 2012

Not a terrible tablet, but the Nexus 7 is superior in almost every way – and cheaper

Price when reviewed: 
180(£180 inc VAT)
3

Ever since Samsung released its low-cost 7in Galaxy Tab 2 earlier this year, manufacturers have been falling over themselves to release low-cost compact tablets. First there was the excellent Nexus 7, then we saw the Amazon Fire HD, and there are more launches just around the corner.

All of a sudden, there’s an awful lot of competition in the sector, something Acer may not have been anticipating when it decided on the price for its Iconia Tab A110. Last year £179 for this tablet would have looked quite good; now, it looks pricey next to the £159 Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD.

Acer Iconia Tab A110

That wouldn’t be a problem if it was a brilliant product. Alas, there are several areas where the A110 loses out to its cheaper rivals. The most obvious of its weaknesses is the screen, which is poor by any standards. Measured with a colorimeter, its maximum brightness tops out at 208cd/m2, which for a laptop might be just about acceptable; for a compact tablet you might use as a reading device or for gaming on the commute, it simply isn’t bright enough.

Viewing angles are poor: hold the A110 in landscape orientation then tilt it back and forth, and you’ll see the colours shift distractingly. And with most recently announced budget 7in tablets now hitting 1,280 x 800 or higher, the A110’s resolution of 1,024 x 600 is doubly disappointing. We’re distinctly underwhelmed, and the chunky, 11.5mm-thick chassis and hefty 384g weight don’t help with the overall impression.

There is some redemption, though, and it comes in the form of a powerful CPU. Beneath the Acer’s rather dowdy exterior, lurks the heart of a beast, with a powerful 1.2GHz quad-core Tegra 3 T30L CPU and 1GB of RAM. Storage isn’t so good at 8GB, but you do get a microSDHC slot capable of taking another 32GB, something the Nexus 7 can’t offer.

Acer Iconia Tab A110

This core hardware helped the A110 produce scores of 1,759ms in SunSpider and 4,208 in Quadrant. For performance, it holds its own with the Nexus 7, which achieved a similar SunSpider score and was slightly slower in Quadrant. Games, from the demanding Asphalt 7 to Shadowgun and HD movies (streaming or local) didn’t cause it any trouble at all, and the Jelly Bean front-end responds as quickly and smoothly to the touch as any tablet we’ve tried.

It’s no surprise there isn’t a rear camera – most other tablets at this price sacrifice that feature – with only a front-facing 2-megapixel unit capable of 720p video. It’s better than the Nexus 7’s 1.2-megapixel camera, though, and although the battery is smaller at 3,420mAh, the A110’s stamina is still acceptable. It lasted 7hrs 3mins in our looping video test with the power profile set to “High performance”; the Nexus 7 achieved 8hrs 48mins in this test.

The trouble the Acer Iconia Tab has is that it’s beaten in almost every respect by the cheaper Nexus 7 – that microSD slot excepted. It’s the poor screen that really seals it for this tablet, though. Even if Acer did manage to match the price of Google’s Nexus 7, we still wouldn’t recommend it.

Detail

Price ex VAT £150
Price inc VAT £180
Warranty 1 yr return to base
Overall rating 3
Performance 4
Features & Design 3
Value for Money 3

Physical

Dimensions 126.5 x 11.5 x 193mm (WDH)

Display

Primary keyboard On-screen
Screen size 7.0in
Resolution screen horizontal 600
Resolution screen vertical 1,024
Display type Multitouch, capacitive
Panel technology TN

Battery

Battery capacity 3,420mAh

Core specifications

CPU frequency, MHz 0MHz
Integrated memory 8.0GB
RAM capacity 1,000MB

Camera

Camera megapixel rating N/A
Focus type N/A
Built-in flash? no
Built-in flash type N/A
Front-facing camera? yes
Video capture? yes

Other

WiFi standard 802.11n
Bluetooth support yes
Integrated GPS yes
Upstream USB ports 0
HDMI output? yes
Video/TV output? no

Software

Mobile operating system Android 4.1.1