If like me you've been holding off getting a tablet then the new batch of Honeycomb tablets might well just be enough to tempt you...
I wasn’t overly impressed with the first batch of Android tablets but after spending some weeks with the new Acer Iconia Tab A500 running Android 3.0 Honeycomb, I think it’s safe to say Android tablets have come of age.
Here in Spain the 32GB and 16GB wifi-only versions are selling for 499€ and 449€ respectively - which I think are very competitive considering the specs and competition. The A501 wifi/3G models are expected sometime later in May.
The 10.1-inch A500 makes a big first impression. It's slender and very well made with tapered edges that help emphasise that feeling. It's not the lightest tablet on the market, coming in at 766g but the extra weight isn’t really that noticeable.
The A500 has an aluminium shell with your standard tablet design. You’ll find a 2 MP camera on the front, accompanied by a 5 MP camera on the back with an LED flash.
On the left side you’ve got the power button and the headphone jack at the top and a micro-HDMI slot a the bottom.
Along the top of the device you have the volume button, a rotate lock switch and next to this there's a plastic cover which comes away to reveal the microSD card slot and a gap which will take a SIM in the 3G-capable models.
Across the bottom you’ll find a docking port, which works with the optional charge cradle.
On the right hand you’ll find a USB2.0 slot (host), a micro-USB connector (slave) and the charging slot.
The tablet provides an enhanced level of performance with its NVIDIA® Tegra™ 2 mobile 1GHz dual-core processor and integrated GeForce™ GPU that lets you enjoy HD gaming, 1080p video and faster browsing, as well as running multiple applications, digital media playback and flash-based sites, games and applications.
As soon as you turn on the A500 and you’re immediately struck by the bright, crisp screen. The 10.1-inch capacitive touch-screen tablet delivers a remarkable degree of accuracy and responsiveness. The high-resolution 1280x800 TFT WXGA display is crisp and clear, and provides an 80-degree wide viewing angle to ensure an optimal viewing experience.
Designed for HD entertainment, the high-color contrast 10.1-inch widescreen display allowing you to enjoy HD 720p video in a 16:10 aspect ratio. You can also use the Acer Iconia Tab A500 as a media hub and share full 1080p video via the built-in HDMI port with other devices. Dolby® Mobile technology completes the entertainment experience with heightened audio.
NVIDIA® Tegra™ 250 dual-core Cortex-A9, 1 GHz
•Ultra-low power GeForce® GPU
• 1 GB of RAM
• 16 or 32 GB of flash memory
•Google Android™ operating system
•10.1” WXGA TFT-LCD capacitive multi-touch screen
•1280 x 800 resolution
•262K colors support
•Micro (Type D) HDMI output
•CD-quality stereo output
•Dual microphone with noise and echo cancellation
•USB connector (host)
•Micro USB connector (slave)
•DC power-in (12 V, 1.5 A)
•Bluetooth 2.1+EDR & A2DP support
•Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n WLAN (802.11n 2.4GHz only)
•2-megapixel front camera (fixed focus)
Audio recording AAC-LC, AMR-WB
Audio playback AAC-LC, AAC, AAC+ (Not raw AAC), AMR-NB, AMR-WB, MP3,
OGG Vorbis, WAV
Video recording H.264 BP, MPEG-4 SP, H.263
Video playback H.264 BP, H.264 MP, H.264 HP, MPEG-4 SP, H.263
•5-megapixel rear camera with flash (auto focus)
•microSD memory card slot (up to 32 GB)
•Rechargeable high density Li-polymer batteries: 3260 mAh x 2 (24.1 Wh)
Note: Length of battery operation will depend on power consumption
which is based on system resource use. For example, constantly using the
backlight or using power-demanding applications will shorten battery life
Height 260 mm
Width 177 mm
Thickness 13.3 mm
Weight 765 g (with battery)
The overall build quality of the A500 is great and it's surprisingly the best Android-based tablet I’ve seen to date and the only one that I’d consider a serious competitor to the iPad considering the price and quality, and it certainly sets a high standard for its Android 3.0 competitors.
Tomorrow I'll take a look at the cameras, battery life, Honeycomb and it's apps (or should that be the lack of apps!!), multimedia and overall performance....