Acer Iconia A1-830 review
Not as good as the Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire HDX 7in, but Acer’s second stab at a budget 7.9in tablet is a good performer for the money
Review Date: 29 May 2014
Reviewed By: Bobby MacPherson
Price when reviewed: £115 (£138 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
Last year’s Acer Iconia A1 7.9in Android tablet failed to impress us: its low £169 price was unable to make up for a grainy screen and lacklustre performance. This time around, Acer has fitted the Iconia A1-830 with a higher-frequency, dual-core Intel Atom CPU and lowered the price even further to £138. Continue reading for our Acer Iconia A1-830 review.
The Iconia’s IPS panel is a big step up from its predecessor’s display, yielding adequate, if uninspiring image quality. With a resolution of 1,024 x 768, it has a relatively low pixel density of 162ppi, but even this isn’t too much of a problem. Yes, there’s stair-stepping visible if you look closely at text, but otherwise it’s barely noticeable. See also the 11 best tablets of 2014
More importantly, quality is fine. In our tests, the panel’s LED backlight topped out at a respectable 337cd/m², meaning that using the Iconia outdoors isn’t out of the question. Images stand out thanks to a contrast ratio of 843:1, but as with many budget tablet displays, lower-end greys have a tendency to blend into black, resulting in a loss of shadow detail. The panel’s colour fidelity is good for the most part, although skin tones, reds and oranges take on a slightly washed-out, anaemic quality.
Similarly, the Iconia’s 7.9in touchscreen is unspectacular, but serviceable. The onscreen keyboard works well, with no lag, and we found the screen to be responsive for the most part, bar one or two occasions where lighter prods or gestures weren’t registered.
While this can’t hope to match the performance of our current favourites, the Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7in, it’s better than we expected. We had to open a large number of apps before the Iconia exhibited any noticeable lag; navigating around Android 4.2 felt smooth; and zooming, panning and scrolling around web pages was as fluid as we could have hoped for.
The Iconia is surprisingly games-capable for a budget tablet, too, and managed a respectable score of 14.4fps in the GFXBench T-Rex HD gaming test at native resolution. You won’t be playing high-end games at top detail levels, but the majority of titles should be playable, thanks to the low resolution. We were even able to play Asphalt 8: Airborne without tearing our hair out in frustration.
The Iconia’s build and design is also superior to its predecessor. The white rear panel has been replaced with a sturdier, less flexible, matte-plastic panel with a metallic finish. The black bezels are now white, giving the tablet the tastefully cohesive looks of an Apple product. The chassis adds very little extra bulk and the back panel curves at the edges just enough to prevent it digging into your flesh when held in one hand. That’s not to say the Iconia’s build is perfect: while it isn’t as creaky as its forebear, the back panel exhibited slightly too much flex when squeezed for the tablet to feel really top-end.
While build, processing and graphical performance are more than adequate considering the price, it’s clear that battery life is one of the main areas where costs have been cut. With the screen set to 120cd/m² and a low-resolution video left looping continuously, the Iconia persevered for a mere 8hrs 33mins, more than three hours short of the Nexus 7.
The Iconia isn’t exactly bristling with expansion options, possessing only a micro-USB port that doubles as the charging point, a 3.5mm audio jack and a microSD card slot, with no HDMI output, but it isn’t unusual in this regard. There’s a 5-megapixel rear camera, which takes extremely grainy photographs that are horribly lacking in detail. The 2-megapixel front camera is even worse, bathing images in a murky gloom. The speakers found at the bottom of the tablet’s back panel are quiet and tinny, and bass is almost completely inaudible.
Perhaps more disappointing is that the Iconia equipped with only Android 4.2, now two years out of date. Acer has preinstalled a couple of applications of its own to sweeten the deal, but these aren’t particularly exciting: Life Image is an inconsequential scrapbook app for collecting and arranging photographs; then there’s AcerCloud, a data-backup and file-synchronisation service with a user-friendly interface.
Like the Iconia A1 before it, the Acer Iconia A1-830’s price is highly attractive. However, unlike its predecessor, the A1-830 boasts passable performance and screen quality, plus marginally better build quality. In the overall scheme of things, the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HDX 7in are better quality all-round, with superior displays, quicker performance and longer battery life, but at a lower £138, this tablet has some budget appeal.
Author: Bobby MacPherson
- Samsung tempts the selfie market with A5 and A3 smartphones
- Internet tax: what it is and why it failed
- Android co-founder Andy Rubin leaves Google
- Windows 10 trackpad shortcuts: Microsoft takes a leaf out of Apple's book
- Promo: Using IBM BlueMix to create successful business apps
- Why the Microsoft Band could be a game changer
- What's on this week's PC Pro podcast?
- Microsoft Office 16 set to launch late next year
- HP's vision for the future of PCs: the 3D Sprout
- How Google X plans to detect cancer and heart disease using nano-magnets
- Google Glass: mugger bait, pub problem and other lessons learned from two dangerous weeks
- Twitter, please don't fiddle with my feed
- How Satya Nadella can get some pay-raise karma
- Windows 10: a step back to go forward
- Michael Dell: Cloud infrastructure is the roads, bridges and highways of the 21st century
- How to check your identity hasn’t been sold to the hackers
- Tim Cook: this is how much TV has changed since the 70s
- Westminster wins the .London battle
- 20 years of PC Pro: from deep pan pizza to virtualisation
- Five reasons why the Apple Watch leaves me cold
- Five smartwatch features we’ll see by 2015
- How to wipe an Android phone or tablet
- iPad Air 2 vs Nexus 9: Apple and Google's latest high-end tablets compared
- Five things that are actually new in the iPad Air 2
- Bendgate, Antennagate, and why Apple doesn’t care about bad news
- iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 release date, specs and UK price rumours
- Office Online vs Google Docs: which free online office suite is best?
- iPhone 6 Plus vs iPhone 6 design comparison
- How to speed up an Android smartphone
- Nexus 6 release date, specs, UK price and leaked images
- How to sell more ebooks on Amazon
- 10 ways to make your business more secure
- Top five VoIP mistakes
- How to add in-app purchasing to an iPhone, Android or Windows app
- Remote-control ransomware: TeamViewer and software hardball
- Why laptops with serial ports matter to the Internet of Things
- Make your mobile battery last longer
- Small steps into handling Big Data
- Nexus 5: does it really run stock Android?
- How to get broadband to a garden office