The HSPA version of the Acer Iconia Android tablet turns out to be a cracker of a tablet and at the right price point too.
- Build Quality
- Speedy operation
- Battery life
Acer in India has always been a very hush-hush type of brand. They have got the technology and the products that would put competition to shame but still for some unknown reasons you won't find Acer as a company publicising itself anywhere.
An example of the same is the Acer Iconia tablets. The tablet was launched in both Windows and Android version. Unlike its predecessor, the Iconia A500, Acer Iconia A501 comes with cellular network connectivity with identical specifications.
Look and Feel
We were delighted, the moment we took the Acer Iconia A501 tablet out from the box. The tablet, although a bit on the heavier side, looks great and the brushed metal all over the body looks amazing and pleasing to the eyes.
Unlike the Apple iPad, the Iconia A501 is different and thicker due to things that have gone inside the tablet for instance a standard USB port , which we see in laptops.
The edges of the tablet are rounded and are slimmed down to give it a good grip. The Acer Iconia A501 also comes with a complementary tablet portfolio case, made up of faux leather but is of a very high standard. The case makes it easier to carry the tablet without any bags and also doubles up as a stand for added comfort of the user.
Display and Touch
Its 10.1 inch TFT LCD display comes with 1280 X 800 pixel resolution that delivers great and vibrant visuals making it good for files, emails to video. Further, its 142 PPI pixel density reduces chances of pixilation even while the device is held closer to the eyes.
Acer Iconia A501 has a wide viewing angle and a slight change in the viewing angle does not interfere with the image quality. This makes it easier and more comfortable for the users to use it in a variety of permutations and combinations, especially while working with the stand.
The ambient light sensor does a really good job in controlling the brightness and it automatically adjusts according to the lighting conditions. Users however can also tweak or manually override the brightness settings by simply selecting the display icon which is next to battery icon and changing the brightness level.
The accelerometer works well in identifying the device orientation and thereby translating it in the display orientation which changes corresponding to the way the device is being held even while holding the device upside down within a split second.
While the display is superb and crisp, the touch interface on the tablet is equally impressive. The multi touch can take up to six simultaneous points and to test this out we tried the Drums HD application and we were really falling short of creative moves to play the music with all those drums.
The touch always translates in to smooth scrolling and swiping so much that not even the slightest of touch is missed.
Processor and Display engine
The Acer Iconia A501 utilises the famous Nvidia Tegra 250 T20 chipset that includes a 1 GHz dual core processor based on the Cortex A9 architecture along with a ULP (Ultra Low Power) Geforce 333 MHz Graphics Processing Unit. All in all the combo works well for this phone offering fluid touch operations and faster execution of commands and application requests.
The Tegra Chipset gives the Acer Iconia A501 far better graphics capabilities with the dedicated Nvidia graphics chip than what the competition offers.
The Acer Iconia A501 features a whole 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal storage which works well with the Tegra chipset and enhances the experience for the user. Overall, the Iconia does the tasks at hand brilliantly without any hiccups or freezes. Be it browsing or streaming videos over DLNA, all the tasks were performed brilliantly without any points to get concerned over.
The Acer Iconia A501 out of the box features the Google Android Honeycomb 3.1 operating system customised with the Acer User Interface. Although not much has been changed with the customisations but yes inclusions of the widgets and the nifty application bar allows users to keep a track of the latest on the Android market.
The Operating system brings the regulars and the usual of the default operating system but yes with an optimised integration between the software and the hardware for better performance.
Performance and usage
The Acer Iconia A501 with a dual core Tegra 250 processor is a performance powerhouse. During review, which is no less than 20 days, we tried different tasks like HD gaming, video streaming, web browsing and the regular documentation and emails but not even for a single moment this tablet showed any signs of fatigue or choking. We kept throwing multiple things at this and it faced all of that happily.
One of the favourite things for the whole team was playing Gun Bros Brotherhood, New Planet. The game is no doubt heavy in terms of graphics and content but the Acer Iconia A501 played it without any hiccups. There were some occasions when the game did not start up but that was primarily because of the faulty 3G data connectivity but otherwise the tablet worked like magic.
The 10.1 inch capacitive touch screen is a major plus point of this device; all the gestures are very accurately registered and translated by the device. The lack of any hardware button is very beautifully handled by the gesture based home screen shortcut, plus it gives the device a lot neater look too.
The user interface and the hardware integration is a major plus for this device as it never fails to honour any command given by the user. The whole experience with the tablet was so great that we never had to touch the reset button provided on the device throughout the review.
One thing notable here is that the device is big, so the center of gravity goes further away from the hands. Thus the tablet will feel heavier at times and is strictly not operable with single hand. But this is not just the Acer Iconia A501's problem but of all the tablets with a display size of above 7 inches.
Camera and Multimedia
Acer Iconia A501 flaunts one of the best camera capabilities as compared to other tablets in the market. Its 5 megapixel camera, in simple words, is just great. The camera delivers both in bright light and low light conditions. The device also has a 2 megapixel front facing camera for video conferencing and also can be used to take self portraits.
Notably, Iconia 501 is the first ever tablet to feature flash for the main camera and it works well.
The Acer Iconia A501 is also good for multimedia fanatics as well; it has got great music playback capabilities and equally great video playback options. With its 16 GB of internal storage, there is no saying what the possibilities are.
The 3.5 mm jack and the HDMI provide great connectivity, and there is also an option to connect the tablet to any AV source. For video playback, the display gives ample support and if not happy with the 10.1 inch screen and the onboard speakers then connect it to any HDTV using the supplied HDMI cable and enjoy 1080p content be it videos or be it gaming as well.
Although it scores high on the performance part, the Acer Iconia A501 somehow disappoints with the battery backup. With a 3260 mAh battery pack which is exceptionally smaller than the 6930 mAh one of Apple iPad 2 and even the BlackBerry PlayBook's battery pack, the device somehow loses the race.
The smaller battery pack of the Acer Iconia A501 manages only 6 hours of continuous video playback. Add WiFi and the time drops by another hour. But for an average user the Acer Iconia A501 will be enough as if you use it moderately, it would last a couple of days depending on the usage times that exceed beyond 8 hours as well.
Overall, the Acer Iconia A501 impresses the users with a great display, brilliant performance and build quality and not to forget the protective cover that adds both style and protection for your tablet.
All in all, the Iconia is a great device which can stand tall and walk parallel to any other competitor product in the market. Potential buyers will not be disappointed with the device as what this tablet offers is great performance and an overall deal for the price it is available for.
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