Acer Iconia Tab A500 Android Tablet Review

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When it comes to the various tablets on the market today, perhaps the most obvious physical differentiator is screen size, which also greatly affects the footprint of the tablet. Currently, most manufactures offer screens that are approximately 7-inches diagonally or about 10-inches diagonally.

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Like the Motorola Xoom and the Asus Eee Pad Transformer, the Acer Iconia Tab A500 features a 10.1-inch screen that supports a resolution of 1280x800.To further compare the Iconia Tab A500 to the Motorola Xoom and the Asus Eee Pad Transformer, let's compare the dimensions and weight of the three tablets side-by-side:

Acer Iconia Tab A500
Motorola Xoom
Asus Eee Pad Transformer
Dimensions (inches)
10.24 x 7 x 0.52
 9.81 x 6.61 x 0.51
10.67 x 6.73 x 0.51
Weight (pounds)

In terms of physical footprint, the bezel around the Iconia Tab A500's screen makes it a bit taller than the Xoom or Eee Pad Transformer and slightly wider than the Xoom, but the thickness of all three tablets is about the same. The Iconia Tab A500 weighs slightly more than the other two tablets.

The Iconia Tab A500's screen is vibrant and sharp. Viewing angles are excellent and we could view the screen at nearly a 90 degree angle. The screen did attract fingerprints, but it did not affect the responsiveness of the tablet.

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Click to enlarge

As far as styling is concerned, the Iconia Tab A500 features an Alpine Silver brushed metal aluminum chassis. This chassis is cool to the touch and gives the tablet a more high-end look than you'd get with a plastic or rubber finish.

In terms of ports and connectivity, the Iconia Tab A500 has a few options, including a docking port, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, micro HDMI, 3.5mm headset jack, USB 2.0 port, and a microUSB port. Keep in mind that many tablets do not offer a full-size USB 2.0 port or a micro HDMI connection, so these are features that help differentiate the Iconia Tab A500.

With the full-size USB port, you can access media files stored on a flash drive or connect peripherals such as a keyboard. USB storage devices connected to this port must be FAT 32. It's also worth mentioning that Acer does not currently support the use of USB mice on the Iconia Tab A500. However, Acer does plan to add support for USB mice later this quarter via an over-the-air firmware update. Keep in mind that you can also expand the Iconia Tab A500's storage via the microSD memory card slot which is accessible through a slide-out door on the top of the tablet.

Update (7/8/2011):  We just got word that Acer is rolling out an update to Android 3.1. Indeed, our Iconia Tab A500 received the update a few hours after we published this review. In addition to Android 3.1, Acer says you'll get a smoother user interface experience, enhanced performance, and support for more standard apps. Other features that come with the update include a push of Adobe Flash 10.3, full support for Bluetooth and USB mice, and the ability to share 1080p video with external devices through the HDMI port.

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Click to enlarge

Taking a look at the edges of the Iconia Tab A500, you'll find the docking station on bottom edge. The left edge of the tablet houses the power button, a headphone jack, and the microHDMI port. A reset button, USB 2.0 port, micro USB port, and the AC adapter jack are found on the right edge of the Iconia Tab A500. On the top edge of the tablet, you'll see a door that slides out to reveal the microSD card slot. When applicable, a SIM card slot can also be found behind this door (our test model does not have a SIM card slot). The volume rocker and a screen rotation lock switch are also located on the top edge of the tablet.

The front-facing 2 megapixel camera is located on the left edge of the bezel near the top of the device. When you flip the Iconia Tab A500 over, you'll see the rear-facing 5 megapixel camera and LED flash in the upper right corner of the tablet. Two speakers are located near the bottom corners. 

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