The Acer Iconia Tab is an impressive piece of equipment. We don't like its heft, but as a functional tablet it's excellent. The problem for Acer is that there's nothing here that makes the Iconia stand out from the crowd.
Fast and responsive, well built, runs Honeycomb
10.1in WXGA LCD screen, 1GHz NVidia Tegra 2 processor, 1GB RAM, 32GB storage, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, MicroSD slot, 5-megapixel rear camera, 2-megapixel front camera, 260x177x13.3mm, 765g
Anyone who's used a netbook will know there isn't a lot of diversity in the hardware they're built around. The same is becoming true with Android Honeycomb tablets, which are gradually starting to look similar and boast near-identical specs.
The Acer Iconia Tab has distinct similarities with the Motorola Xoom. Our review model has a capacity of 32GB, uses an NVidia Tegra 2 A9 CPU running at 1GHz and 1GB of RAM. But it's mostly the 10.1in form factor that makes it look like a Motorola Xoom.
At 765g it's heavier than Motorola's tablet by 35g. We criticised Motorola for the weight of the Xoom, which is one of the heaviest tablet devices we've used. As with the Xoom, the Iconia Tab's weight comes from the large screen and metal case. It feels like a quality product, though. There are no loose panels and the whole thing feels every bit as well made as the Xoom.
There is one plastic flap on the topmost edge, under which is concealed a Micro SD slot. Unlike the Xoom, this slot works out of the box on the Iconia, which is what we'd expect on an Android tablet.
There's also a USB socket on the right-hand side. This enables you to plug in a USB memory drive and read files with no trouble at all. This is actually a pretty handy feature, especially if you have documents or presentations on a memory stick that you want to share or even display.
And speaking of display, the Iconia also has an HDMI output, which means you can connect it to TVs or projectors. While VGA is still by far the most popular video input on most office-based systems, this will have increasing value as businesses switch to HDMI.
If you're serious about getting work done on your tablet, the Acer is as good a choice as any tablet-only offering. (The Asus Transformer stands out in this catagory with its external keyboard dock.) We paired a bluetooth keyboard with the Iconia, and the process took a few seconds and we were easily able to type, all without wires or hassle. Of course, the lack of built-in kickstand on the Acer is a problem here, as you'll need to invest in something to hold it up while you type.
Impressive battery life
Thanks to its lack of 3G mobile capability, the Iconia has a battery that just seems to last forever. Certainly, if you leave it in standby it drains very little power and should last for a long time. During more intense use, we found that the battery was still robust and you should get a full day of intermittent use. Of course, it's impossible to predict what users will end up seeing, as everyone's usage will be different.
Generous storage and decent specs
While the Acer does cost £450, the internal storage capacity is generous at 32GB, which should be more than enough to hold your documents, presentations and any video. If you also intend to use the tablet for entertainment, there should be plenty of space left for the odd e-book or movie.
Using the tablet is a good experience, in general. The high-speed processor and 1GB RAM mean that there's pretty much no lag when browsing through the menus and flipping through the home screens. We installed a good few apps and widgets on the home screens and the performance remained solid. MSNBC's stock ticker app was especially pleasant to use on the Iconia.
If you use Google Talk, you have the option of making and recieving video calls from the Iconia. It's a feature that works well enough, but doesn't quite rival Apple's Facetime, or even Skype's video calling system. Acer's dual cameras are decent enough, though, but we still don't know who would use the rear camera.
The display is worthy of praise too, being clear and crisp and really nice to look at. It doesn't have the brightest back light we've seen, but even so it's sufficient for most use, including outdoors.