Skip to navigation

Acer Iconia A1 review

Verdict

An attractive price, but a poor screen and mediocre real-world performance put paid to this tablet’s aspirations

Review Date: 17 Aug 2013

Reviewed By: Jonathan Bray

Price when reviewed: £141 (£169 inc VAT)

Buy it now for: £124
(see more store prices)

Overall Rating
3 stars out of 6

Features & Design
3 stars out of 6

Value for Money
4 stars out of 6

Performance
3 stars out of 6

If you’d told us a couple of years ago we’d be reviewing 8in tablets costing £170 we’d have laughed you out of the room. Yet that’s exactly the price Acer is asking for its Iconia A1 – it’s £100 cheaper than the iPad mini.

The big question is how many compromises Acer has made to hit such a low price point. It starts off on the right foot, with a resolution of 768 x 1,024, which although low compared to many compact tablets we've seen, matches the iPad mini, pixel for pixel. Its 3:4 aspect ratio works well when browsing web pages, and feels noticeably more spacious than the 10:16 panels of its 7in rivals.

The panel falls behind in terms of quality, though. The touchscreen layer adds an unwelcome dose of graininess, and, when we measured it with our colorimeter, we found the screen to be rather dimmer than we'd like. Its maximum brightness is only 235cd/m2; although this is fine indoors, it’s almost unusable in bright sunlight. The way the panel presents colours isn’t particularly vibrant, either.

Acer Iconia A1

Unlike its many ARM-powered peers, the Iconia employs a MediaTek processor. The MT8389W is a quad-core chip that runs at 1.2GHz, and it’s paired with 1GB of RAM. This helped the Acer to achieve a Geekbench result of 1,327, and its four cores easily outpaced the single-core Asus Fonepad, which scored 582 in the same test. The Iconia’s GFXBench result of 5.3fps was more middle-of-the-road, however.

These decent benchmark results translated to mixed real-world performance. Menus and web pages scrolled smoothly, but navigating around the OS felt sluggish, and apps loaded slowly. Basic games such as the 2D side-scrolling Rayman Jungle Run ran smoothly, but the more demanding Real Racing 3 dropped frames noticeably when the action heated up.

The Iconia’s battery life of 8hrs 3mins isn’t wonderful, either, falling almost five hours short of the Fonepad’s result in our looping video test. It also misses out on several key items of hardware. It has no light sensor for automatic control of display brightness, and there’s no sign of NFC. The Fonepad has both.

The one big plus point for the Acer is that it’s loaded with the latest version of Android – 4.2.2 – which brings several useful features, including multiple user profiles and lockscreen widgets. There’s also a selection of Acer software, although these apps are of less interest. The most useful is AcerCloud, a cloud storage service similar to Dropbox, but it’s hobbled by its reliance on Acer’s software. For example, photos must be uploaded from Acer’s own photo app, rather than via the Android Gallery.

Acer Iconia A1

Unusually for a budget tablet, the Acer Iconia A1 has both rear- and front-facing cameras, at 5 megapixels and 0.3 megapixels respectively. Both are fixed-focus, though, and quality is poor, with a lack of detail throughout our test shots.

The A1 isn’t physically impressive, either. The plastic chassis flexes when you squeeze the rear panel, and neither the glossy black bezel nor the white rear panel are particularly attractive. A micro-HDMI socket and microSD slot add versatility, but the sturdier, more attractive Fonepad has a microSD slot, too.

The price might look attractive initially, but the Iconia A1 is a damp squib. Its screen is grainy and dim; it isn’t the smoothest or slickest tablet; the battery life is average; and we’re not sold on the physical design. Ultimately, you’re better off opting for a smaller-screened device.

Author: Jonathan Bray

Best Prices

Price comparison powered by Reevoo

£124
£125
£132
£132
£145
Subscribe to PC Pro magazine. We'll give you 3 issues for £1 plus a free gift - click here
User comments

The new Icoo 8 for £118($185) launched this week and is the first 8-inch Android tablet with an HD 1280x800 screen -- previously, all 8-inch tablets have been sporting a low resolution 1024 x 768 display -- the first online site to offer the new Icoo 8 model is T ablet Sprint -- and the 8" size is almost as compact as a 7" tablet but offers 40% more screen space to play with, which makes quite a difference in user experience and the key reason Apple choose this size format. It offers a RK3188-A9/Mali-400 Quad Core processor and also offers one of the largest battery capacities of any compact tablet - with a 5500 mAh battery. It features MicroSD storage, 16GB Memory, HDMI, MicroSD Memory card, a 2 MegaPixel webcam and 5 Megapixel rear camera, and a durable metal rear frame. Google Play is preinstalled and it works with the new ChromeCast adapter for wireless streaming.

By ashleyhope10k on 17 Aug 2013

What happened to checking user comments?

The previous message by ashleyhope10k is obviously spam, added by a promoter of the product

By DArtiss on 19 Aug 2013

So is this Microsoft's fault too?

A predictably lukewarm review of an even more predictably mediocre product from Acer.

MY headline question refers to the CEO's constant sniping at MS, and using them as an excuse for his company's lacklustre performance.
The point is, as MS have been trying to point out to Acer and a few other OEMs, that the game has moved on. Simply chucking any old at the market no-longer guarantees sales & profits. The products have to be good, whether the O/S is Android, Windows, or iOS.

Google\ASUS and Samsung (amongst others) seem perfectly capable of making better gear at similar prices. So what's the excuse this time?

By wittgenfrog on 19 Aug 2013

At a distance of 40m

40m or 4m?

By JamesD29 on 21 Aug 2013

In the spec the boxes for HDMI & Video/TV are not ticked, what is the micro HDMI used for, if not for the purpose of outputting to TVs.
I cannot understand why it has such a low mark for features and design, it has all of the features that I need HDMI, WiFi - Bluetooth - GPS - Micro USB 2.0 - Micro HDMI - Micro SD - Gyroscope,the other contenders are sadly lacking, eg the Nexus has neither HDMI or Micro SD reader.

By davidbailey00 on 22 Aug 2013

In the spec the boxes for HDMI & Video/TV are not ticked, what is the micro HDMI used for, if not for the purpose of outputting to TVs.
I cannot understand why it has such a low mark for features and design, it has all of the features that I need HDMI, WiFi - Bluetooth - GPS - Micro USB 2.0 - Micro HDMI - Micro SD - Gyroscope,the other contenders are sadly lacking, eg the Nexus has neither HDMI or Micro SD reader.

By davidbailey00 on 22 Aug 2013

Leave a comment

You need to Login or Register to comment.

(optional)

Latest Category Reviews
Lenovo Miix 2 8 review

Lenovo Miix 2 8

Category: Tablets
Rating: 3 out of 6
Price: £330
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 review

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5

Category: Tablets
Rating: 5 out of 6
Price: £395
Lenovo Miix 2 8in review

Lenovo Miix 2 8in

Category: Tablets
Rating: 3 out of 6
Price: £330
Asus Memo Pad 7 ME176CX review

Asus Memo Pad 7 ME176CX

Category: Tablets
Rating: 5 out of 6
Price: £120
Compare reviews: Laptops

advertisement

Most Commented Reviews
Latest News Stories Subscribe to our RSS Feeds
Latest Blog Posts Subscribe to our RSS Feeds
Latest Features
Latest Real World Computing

advertisement

Sponsored Links
 

 
SEARCH
Loading
WEB ID
SIGN UP

Your email:

Your password:

remember me

advertisement


Hitwise Top 10 Website 2010
 
 

PCPro-Computing in the Real World Printed from www.pcpro.co.uk

Register to receive our regular email newsletter at http://www.pcpro.co.uk/registration.

The newsletter contains links to our latest PC news, product reviews, features and how-to guides, plus special offers and competitions.