Acer Iconia Tab A700 review: Gorgeous display and power at an affordable price

by Robert Nazarian on
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Acer is one of those companies that’s slowly making a lot of noise in the Android tablet world. With the release of the Iconia Tab A700, it marks the first Android tablet available with a 1080p display. Now it’s not all about the display as there’s plenty of power under the hood and it’s priced very competitively at $449. The real question is if it’s enough to fight off the upcoming ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 with similar specs? Hit the break to find out and you can also check out my initial hands on review.

Design

The A700 won’t win any prizes for lightness or thickness. It comes in at 667 grams and is 10.92mm thick, whereas the Transformer Pad Infinity comes in at 598 grams and is 8.5mm thick. The backing has an aluminum feel, but it’s textured plastic much like the A510. It does feel a tad slippery, which is a constant problem for many smartphones and tablets, but overall it’s not too bad and I can live with it.

The power button resides on the left side at the top along with the headphone jack below that. At the top left is the volume rocker and screen lock. Moving on to the right side, we have the microHDMI along with the microSD slot and SIM slot (only utilized on the A710), which are under a twist out cover. Last but not least, the bottom has stereo speakers along with the microUSB port for charging or connecting to a desktop. I originally thought that the microUSB port would work with any microUSB cable, but apparently it will only charge with the Acer branded one that comes in the box. That is a disappointment because I despise the proprietary cables that come with the likes of ASUS, Samsung, and Toshiba tablets.

Hardware

The A700 features a 10.1-inch (1920 x 1200) Full HD LCD display at 224ppi, a NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core CPU, 12 core NVIDIA GeForce GPU, 1GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, microSD slot for an additional 32GB of storage, 5MP rear camera, 1MP front-facing camera, Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR, GPS, micro USB, and microHDMI.

Performance

I found the A700 to run very smooth whether playing video, playing games or just web browsing, but I did find that the touch display was a little lacking at times as I had to tap things more than once. Overall it wasn’t too bad. I ran the obligatory AnTuTu benchmark and it came in at 10,610, which is well below the Transformer Pad Infinity. I guess this isn’t surprising as ASUS has a little more experience fine tuning the software and hardware with the Tegra 3, but I don’t think the average consumer will be able to tell.

The display is gorgeous, but to fully appreciate it, you need to be playing some 1080p video. Unfortunately it lacks the IPS display that the Transformer Pad Infinity sports, so it won’t perform as well in direct sunlight. Indoors the display is amazing with very good viewing angles so my feeling is that other than the Transformer Pad Infinity, you won’t find a better display on an Android tablet.

The sound quality was excellent and had little to no distortion even at higher levels.

Battery

The battery was a little disappointing as I was only able to get about 8 hours and 45 minutes, which is probably a result of the better display. I ran my test the same way I do with all devices. I ran continuous video with the display turned up to about 2/3′s brightness. Again the Transformer Infinity was better, as well as the Iconia Tab A510, which was a lot better.

Software

The A700 sports Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich and kudos to Acer for leaving it pretty much stock, but they did include some really nice enhancements. The lock screen is customizable with up to 4 different applications that you can unlock to (see it in my initial hands on video) and there’s also a ring launcher, which is circular and provides shortcuts to apps like the camera and browser. It even gives you a short cut to screenshots and volume controls. As to the browser, you can quickly jump to one of your bookmarks as they are all accessible as “cards.” It really looks and works nicely, and I wouldn’t mind seeing something like this available as a standalone app for all devices.

Acer also included their own video and music players that will play media from your internal (or microSD) storage, but will also stream from any DLNA servers connected to the same network. I was able to stream videos and music from my home server within minutes from turning on the device. It works very well and movies looked stunning without any hiccups. You can see how this works in my initial hands on video.

Acer Print is also included that will take care of all your wireless printing needs. You can manage all network printers as well as print jobs.

As far as bloatwares goes, you get Acer Print, Amazon Kindle, Amazon MP3, Amazon Appstore, AUPEO!, Barcode Scanner, EquiView, Evernote, Facebook, HW Solitare, Monopoly, Netflix, Photo (Acer’s gallery viewer other than the stock gallery app), Polaris Office, Real Racing 2, Recorder, Registration (for registering your A700), TegraZone, VirusScan, WildTangent, and Zinio.

Camera

Acer threw in a 5MP rear camera that does the job, and that’s about it. I stopped including pictures from tablets because I can’t imagine anyone buying a tablet with the expectation that the camera is important. If there is a camera that’s important on a tablet, it’s the front-facing one for video chatting. Acer only gave us a 1MP lens. I would liked to have seen a 2MP, but these are the little things that keep the costs down. I would imagine that it still isn’t on the top of the list of too many consumers right now so I can live with it.

Closing

The A700 is a beauty indeed for the money, but one has to wonder if spending $50 more on the Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 would make the better choice. ASUS has a better history in updating their devices, but then again many of their minor updates have been to fix constant bugs. To me, both of these devices have really nice screens, but I think it’s overkill for now. Unless you plan on watching a lot of 1080p video, you really aren’t going to get a lot out of it. Although the A700 is priced competitively ($449), it doesn’t seem so great when you look at tablet prices starting to drop thanks to the Nexus 7.  You might be better off grabbing something for less. The ASUS Transformer Pad TF300 is priced just under $400 right now and packs a Tegra 3 as well. I think within the next month, it may drop to $349 or even $299. I guess you have to ask yourself it the nice screen and shorter battery life is worth it. For me, the answer is no.

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