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Generic Review of the Acer Iconia A500

So I scored an Acer Iconia A500 for a couple weeks to give a test drive. This is my first time using a tablet PC and there are pros and cons.

The first con is the price, although for the technology, it’s understandable. This unit, the 16GB version, has an MSRP of $579 – way out of my price league. A comparable iPad runs around $400. With as many tablets that have invaded the market over the past year, competition should be enough at this point to start dropping prices substantially, though it hasn’t worked out that way.

Most basic Android apps available from the Marketplace are available in free versions and will cover your basic computing needs however, a fully-functioning word processor is going to run you up to $15. Most apps however are in the $3-$5 range. 

Because the Android Honeycomb is a relatively new type OS, many of the apps on the market for this device are still very buggy.  You’ll see a lot of reports of force-closes, freezing and not starting. I’ve had these issues on a few downloads already, including the “How Stuff Works” podcast app (which works flawlessly on my 4th Gen iPod).

The twin cameras on this unit were a good idea following suit of the iPod’s front and rear cameras, however the quality on the user-facing camera is only 2MP. Even the most generic cell phone has better image quality. The forward camera is a 5MP, just barely surpassing that of the iPod Touch. 

The plus on the Iconia’s cameras is the pre-loaded range of photo-taking options, as well as the on-board flash. The user can select from many different environmental modes and special effects before shooting the photo, then upload directly to Google’s Picassa web albums.

The battery life has been a big plus. With normal usage, I have been running this unit for two days on its first full charge, which took about 4 hours initially.  You’ll be able to take this tablet on the go and not have to worry about bringing a charger unless you’re doing some heavy gaming or movie watching.

The honeycomb layout itself is very easy to organize and is a neat alternative to the usual Windows desktop, allowing essentially 5 desktops which are flipped through with just the swipe of a finger. The living wallpapers available also bring a futuristic look and experience to the main screens. The graphics quality on this tab is absolutely stunning and the sound is loud and clear, quickly adjustable via a rocker button on the top of the unit.

Another plus is the unit’s USB port and SD card slot, which supports memory expansion of up to 32 Gigs. You’ll need to download a free file manager however, as the base software does not include one.

In all, with the right application downloads, this tab can almost replace your existing laptop for general usage, but I would still wait til the price drops before committing to a purchase.

(Written on the Acer Iconia A500 using the free WordPress app.)