The Acer Iconia Tab A110 ($229.99 list) is a formidable 7-inch Android tablet, but it doesn’t quite measure up to competitors like the Google Nexus 7 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD. It runs Android 4.1 “Jelly Bean” right out of the box and has nice features like a microSD card slot and micro HDMI out, but it also serves up a low-quality screen and uninspiring design. The Nexus 7 costs less, runs Android 4.2, has a sharper display, and comes with double the built-in storage capacity.
Design and Features
From a design standpoint, the Iconia Tab A110, much like previous efforts from Acer, is about as milquetoast as Android tablets come. The glossy all-plastic construction feels cheap, and its boxy design doesn’t do any favors for its 0.4-inch thickness and 13.44-ounce weight. The Nexus 7 has similar dimensions, at 0.4 inches thick and 12 ounces, but its tapered edges and rubberized back give it a nicer feel. Along the A110′s boxy edges, you’ll find a multitude of ports, including micro USB, micro HDMI, and a microSD card slot. That healthy offering sets this tablet apart from the Nexus 7, which lacks both HDMI out and microSD expansion options. The Kindle Fire HD has micro HDMI out, but no microSD card slot.
Fire up the display, and—meh. The 1,024-by-600-pixel TFT LCD display really disappoints. It’s not only that it lacks the sharpness of 1,280-by-800-pixel displays found on the Nexus 7 and Fire HD, but colors look muted and the viewing angle is too narrow. The screen’s surface is also a fingerprint and grease magnet, which only exacerbates its high reflectivity.
Above the screen is a 2-megapixel front-facing camera, which is serviceable for Skyping, but not much else. There’s no rear-facing camera, but that’s pretty standard these days. The A110 comes in a single 8GB model for $229.99, which is more expensive than the $199 Google asks for a 16GB Nexus 7.
This is a Wi-Fi only tablet that connects to 802.11b/g/n networks on the 2.4GHz band, but not 5GHz. Acer missed another opportunity to set this tablet apart from the Nexus 7, as that tablet also omits 5GHz Wi-Fi. Also onboard are Bluetooth 3.0 and GPS, both of which worked fine in my tests. A small note, the A110′s default settings have it shut off Wi-Fi on sleep, and I found that it took far too long to re-establish a connection on resume. Luckily, this problem is easily fixed in the settings.
Performance and Software
Inside, the A110 has a 1.2GHz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor and 1GB RAM. Performance between this and the Nexus 7, which has a similar processor, was comparable. The A110 actually has a slight edge in gaming, but only because it’s pushing fewer pixels than the Nexus 7. Loading apps, navigating around Android, and browsing the Web all move along swimmingly on the A110 and I never encountered any performance hiccups.
Most Android-powered tablets, like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) , are currently running Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich,” with only a vague promise of updates in the future. The A110 runs Android 4.1 “Jelly Bean” right out of the box, and even though it’s not the latest version 4.2, it brings a number of advantages over 4.0. Project Butter, for one, ensures that the user experience is as smooth as possible. There’s also Google Now, which I found to be useful during testing, as it automatically fetches pertinent information like local weather, traffic conditions, and public transportation options—things I routinely look into. For a more in-depth look at Jelly Bean, head over to our full review.
The A110 runs a refreshingly clean version of Android, with few discernible manufacturer modifications or preloaded apps. Gone are the Acer ring and modified lock screens found in the company’s other tablets. You’ll still find some throwaway games, along with more useful apps like Polaris Office, but kudos to Acer for not bogging the A110 down with bloatware and heavy-handed modifications like the ones found in Samsung’s TouchWiz. That said, there’s also less hand holding for Android novices than you’ll find on comparable Samsung tablets. First-time users are presented with a clean slate and little guidance on the best ways to populate homescreens to take advantage of Android’s customizability.
Media support is good on the A110, as it breezed through our test suite. For audio, you can load up MP3, AAC, FLAC, OGG, WAV, and WMA files. Xvid, DivX, MPEG4, H.264, and AVI videos all played smoothly at 1080p resolution. The A110 can also mirror its screen onto HDTVs thanks to its micro HDMI out.
In our battery rundown test, which loops a video with screen brightness set to max and Wi-Fi on, the A110 lasted 5 hours, 10 minutes. That’s a far cry from the 10 hours, 37 minutes turned in by the Nexus 7 and the 7 hours on the Kindle Fire HD in the same test.
Were it not for the subpar screen and battery life, the Acer Iconia Tab A110 would have made an interesting alternative to the Nexus 7, as many people have complained about the lack of microSD expansion and micro HDMI out capability. Unfortunately, the screen is a significant downgrade, the overall design feels cheap, and the A110 is more expensive than the Nexus 7 even though it offers half the internal storage. On top of that, Google has moved onto its next version of Android, 4.2, and though it’s more of an incremental upgrade, there’s no telling if or when the A110 might see that update. If you absolutely must have microSD and HDMI out on your tablet, the A110 could make a suitable option, but otherwise, just spend less and get more with the Nexus 7.
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|Screen Resolution||1024 x 600 pixels|
|Operating System||Google Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)|
|Dimensions||7.6 x 5.0 x 0.4 inches|
|Battery Size||3420 mAh|
|Screen Size Type||Widescreen|
|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||8 GB|
|Front Camera Resolution||2 MP|
|Processor Speed||1.2 GHz|
|Screen Size||7 inches|
|CPU||nVidia Tegra 3 Quad-Core|
|Ports||micro HDMI, micro USB|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc