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Picking up the tab

tech reviews Updated: Aug 12, 2011 11:13 IST
Shrenik Avlani

In a city where millions have seen and thousands have the Apple iPad and the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the Acer Iconia A500 stands out since it’s big and neither black nor white. Instead, it has a grey, brushed-aluminium finish. It’s also thicker, and when you hold it, it’s heavier than any other tablet around.

It’s the first tablet on the Indian shelves that runs on Google’s Android Honeycomb 3.0 operating system.

If you have used an Android phone, you will adapt seamlessly to the Acer Iconia Tab. The interface let’s you customise your home screen just the way you want it. Web pages load quickly too. What is different is the missing physical home button. On this, the home icon appears at the bottom left of the screen no matter what you are doing. Simply touch it and you are back to the home screen.
Rich hi-def screen.

The 10.1-inch screen that sports a resolution of 800x1280 pixels is big and bright. The graphics, powered by Nvidia’s Tegra 2 platform that brandishes a dual-core 1GHz processor, are great too. The review piece that was given to us came with NFS Shift preinstalled. We also downloaded the popular game Angry Birds to gauge the tablet’s performance. Both games played beautifully and looked good on the high-def screen.

This Acer device’s speakers are louder than that of the Apple iPad. The Iconia Tab comes with a built-in USB 2.0 port too — that’s not available on any other tablet — a micro-HDMI port for outputting video to a high definition television, a micro-USB connector and a dock connector.

Accepts USB keyboard
The USB port will let you plug in a full-sized keyboard and mouse, which is great, since on-screen keyboards are quite a bother if you want to type a lot of text. The keyboard and mouse didn’t work with the first review piece, but worked like a dream with its replacement. You can also plug in a USB drive and access data directly from it, but the USB port can’t provide enough power for a 2.5-inch external USB hard drive — so tough luck on that. The USB port also accepts 3G USB dongles for connecting to the internet. This feature really stands out the most as compared to other devices like Samsung’s Galaxy Tab or the Apple iPad, which don’t provide any such support.

What we like
1.Fully functional USB port
2.Tegra Zone games hub

What we don’t like
1.Its weight bogs you down
2.Doesn’t support hard disks

Verdict

At Rs 27,990, the Iconia Tab A500 is the cheapest tablet in town that doesn’t compromise on performance. Also, it’s the only Android ‘Honeycomb’ v3.0 tablet available in India right now. Currently, you can pick it up at Croma, Lower Parel and Oberoi Mall, Goregaon. Its best feature, undoubtedly is the USB port, which allows you to plug in a keyboard, mouse or USB drive. However, the A500 is heavy, clunky and not as sleek at the new Apple iPad. The optional protective sleeve isn’t a patch on the iPad equivalent either.