Android On Intel x86 Tablet Performance Explored

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Software and Subjective Testing

If the hardware feels the same, the software almost does -- with a few rough spots here and there. The vast majority of games and programs I downloaded worked perfectly. The problem is, there's still a small gap between "almost everything," and "everything", and sometimes, games that hadn't worked initially began working later.

EA's FIFA 15 was an example of this. When I first received the tablet for testing, the FIFA 15 install would hang on the launch screen, even after multiple reboots and a full re-installation. Several weeks later, the game began working flawlessly. Presumably the difference was an update or compatibility improvement, either from Intel, EA, or Acer, but I don't know which company handled the work. Games acquired through the Google Play store almost always work, with only two titles -- EA's FIFA 15 (at least initially) and a free to play Clash of Clans knockoff, "Game of War" occasionally throwing errors or failing to start.


Games like Castle Clash played smoothly on the Acer Iconia Tab 8

When Intel's Medfield launched, there was sometimes a significant gap between the games and apps offered on Google Play and what was available on Intel's platform, but those lists have essentially synchronized. Compatibility is the rule, issues are the rare exception now.

This is not the case for the Acer's pre-installed WildTangent software, which has a nasty habit of downloading games that can't run on the tablet. If that wasn't problematic enough, it also attempts to force the user to choose to play the F2P version of a game each and every time you run it. In other words, play the "Free" version of a title, and you'll be prompted to pay for it every single time you open the game.

This brings up one of my largest complaints about the Acer Iconia Tab 8 -- it ships with a great deal of software you may want to disable or halt to keep from loading, but can't actually uninstall. While this doesn't necessarily impact performance, it's incredibly annoying to be forced to disable the function of multiple applications. From Booking.com to WildTangent, to Audible.com, many of these applications are simply locked in and set to defaults that are tedious to reset and impossible to uninstall.  Dell's latest Venue 8 tablet did not have nearly the same bloat. In fact, it was much cleaner.


There are 26 non-Google Play, non-essential programs on the tablet that cannot be permanently removed.

It's disappointing to see some tablet manufacturers rushing to stuff their systems full of the same bloatware that has typified PC installs for so many years, as though this wasn't partly responsible for the reasons onetime PC buyers have opted for hardware. After watching Apple, with its sticker-free cases and bloatware-free products eat the PC industry's profits for nearly a decade I would've thought that companies would've learned a lesson, but maybe not all.

On the other hand, some might argue that TuneIn Radio, or Acer's email client, or the included Office Docs are value-added offerings. I'm quite alright with that, provided I'm allowed to remove them if I don't think they offer value.

Except I'm not allowed to remove them and neither are you without rooting the device, thereby voiding the warranty. I don't need more than one link for "Play Music" or playing video. If I I don't want Abmusic or ASTRO file manager, I shouldn't be required to use them. And since Acer has seen fit to cram this shovelware into the tablet anyway, the best I can say of the morass is that it doesn't take up much storage space. Again, Dell was better than this, but I digress.

Web Browsing:


Web browsing on the quad-core Bay Trail tablet can be a bit sluggish at times, even with Chrome. Single pages load perfectly well, but opening new tabs still causes more slowdown than we saw on the high-end LG G3 (used for comparison tests). In single tab tests, the Acer Iconia Tab 8 is, if anything, slightly faster than the LG phablet. The LG's higher responsiveness when switching between web pages could be thanks to its larger RAM loadout -- the 32GB version of the phone has 3GB of RAM, whereas the tablet has just 2GB.

While switching between a large number of tabs requires page reloads, performance is still fast enough to be acceptable. Again, as with the Play Store, everything here "just works." 
 

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