Acer Iconia Tab A100 – “Mobility at its Best.”
Last week we looked at the Iconia Tab A500, which saw some love soon after review was uploaded. The Iconia Tab A100 was released just days before its big brother, with most vendors (country dependent) choosing to release both devices on the same day. Most Android OEMs that develop tablet devices these days produce both the 10” and 7” versions, hoping to cater for a much greater audience. Besides the obvious variance in size, what makes the Iconia Tab A100 much different from the larger A500? With the increased tablet sales across the globe last year, most people opted for the popular iPad 2 and Galaxy Tab 10.1”, so the resultant question would then be “are 7 inch tablets really worth the effort?”
With its decreased size, most of us would immediately think a 7” tablet would not perform anywhere near as good as its 10” counterpart. While this holds true in some cases, it does not hold for all; the Iconia Tab A100 being one of those that don’t. You’ll be surprised to know that the A100 has the same nVidia Tegra 2 T20 chipset, and the same Dual-Core 1 GHz Cortex-A9 processor. In addition, they also have the same 5MP, 2592×1944 pixel cameras that capture video of 720p@30fps and VGA@60fps. Both tablets also run the same versions of Android, Honeycomb 3.2. I can go through a whole list of similarities, but I’m sure you get the point at this stage.
So what are the big differences? Firstly, the A100 has half the processing memory; 512MB as opposed to the 1GB RAM found in the A500. Then there’s the obvious size difference. Apart from the 3 inch difference in screen size, the A100 also has a smaller resolution (600×1024), which means that it weighs roughly 300g less. Although the A100 has quite a number of ports available for different uses, the most noticeable absentee would be the USB port, something I found very useful with the A500. The biggest difference, however, is the battery capacity. With less than half the milli-Amp hours at its disposable, the Iconia Tab A100 can’t compete against the A500’s longevity.
We know that is planning an ICS update for both tablets, which is almost ready for release. I know this to be true because there have been a few leaks of the official firmware floating around the Web this week, which can only mean that the update will soon be pushed to these tablets in the next few weeks (depending on the country).
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any reliable images of the firmware, but if it’s anything like the versions for the A200 and A700, then we’re in for a treat.
The Iconia Tab A100 also offers a wider variety of colours and patterns to choose from than the A500. The Cherry Red version I reviewed had a sleeker and more stylish look about it compared to the monotone A500. And although colours shouldn’t be a big factor when choosing your devices, it does make quite an impression if the colour choices stand out from the crowd.
As with the Iconia Tab A500, I spent some time using the HDMI port, watching digital movies and clips on an HD TV. The results of this are quite pleasant on most occasions. On the occasions where I did find it a bit annoying, it would be during a intricate action scene where the amount of colours and the fps were too much to handle. In terms of the sound quality, I found no such issues, thanks mostly to the Dolby Surround integration.
In terms of the gaming, the A100 did not let itself down in any regard. In fact, it more than surprised me on the odd occasion, displaying stunning graphics, matching that of the A500. To be honest, the gaming experience on the A100 is a lot more comfortable due to the decreased weight and display size. The biggest issue with gaming, and any viewing on device, is the narrow angle of the display. When directly aligned with the display, there aren’t any hiccups at all. The problems arise as soon as your head is tilted even at the slightest angle, darkening the screen at every increased degree away from the centre. I was hoping that I’d get used to the viewing angles, but in truth, the longer I used the device (for a continuous amount of time), the more annoyed I became.
Another obvious difference between the two devices is the price. At an average of R3000, the Iconia Tab A100 is almost R2000 cheaper than its big brother. With such a huge difference in costing, it makes the conclusion a little tricky. There’s no doubt that the A500 is a better device that the A100, but is it really R2000 better? As with all other reviews, the choice should be made on the user preference. If you’re looking for something a bit more affordable, then the A100 is definitely the way to go, since it offers quite a lot of the same features (with slightly different results). If you’re looking for something bigger and more polished, and a much better display, then the A500 is definitely your first choice.
And to answer the big question: Yes, 7 inch tablets do have their place amongst other mainstream devices, just as long as it suits your style and budget. The Iconia Tab A100 could be exactly what you’re looking for.
You can find the full specifications here.