Pros: Quick, Portable, All around Connectivity(WiFi,Bluetooth,GPS), Good Cameras
Cons: Charging Port not USB, Battery Life, Still 1024x600 (not 1024x768)
Acer Computer Company has been around since 1976 making Computers and other electronic devices which has been flooding the market with its name and devices. Acer also operates under its multi-brand approach as Gateway, Packard Bell, and eMachines brands in worldwide markets. Now Acer has be adding there technology to the Tablet world in computer again.
Acer first introduced itself in the Android Operation System Space with the Iconia A500 Series in the 10 inch category, they have now added the Iconia A100 series with 7 inch multi-touch unit. They are offering two capacities of the A100, 8GB and the 16GB. I picked up the 8GB unit from Wal-Mart with the price match offered during the Black Friday weekend sale that BestBuy was offering. The sale was for $189.99, versus the retail $328.99 at Wal-Mart. The A100 was to be released the second quarter of 2011, but was delayed due to Honeycomb 3.2 late release in July 2011 to accommodate the 7 inch tablets. The Honeycomb 3.0 (considered Beta release) and optimized Honeycomb 3.1 (released May 2011) are designed for bigger screen and higher resolution tablets, Android reconfigured Honeycomb 3.2 for the smaller foot print units. Soon to be released is Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0, to combine the platforms of Honeycomb (3.x) and Gingerbread (2.3.x).
The Acer Iconia A100 8GB (and 16GB), measures in 4.6 inches, 7.7 inches and 0.5 inches thick. The A100 comes with a 7 inch diagonal measured LCD screen with 1024 x 600 resolution. This Iconia, like the A500, comes with the NVIDIA Tegra II 1GHz ARM Cortex-A9 dual core processor. In addition, the Acer integrated 1GB of RAM for Honeycomb to utilize and 8GB of Storage. The A100 can be used in Portrait (vertical) or in Landscape (horizontal) orientation and has a lock switch to keep the display from switching when tilted. Acer added a 5MP with flash camera in the rear and a 2.0MP camera in the front, if ever used in a conference call or other Video Media. If held in Portrait, the A100 comes with a micro-USB plug to exchange content (files, media, etc.) with a Computer or Laptop and a HDMI for connecting to a monitor and/or TV. The HDMI is said to connect up to two monitors, though I had not attempted. Added to the bottom of the device, there are two speakers which defeats the purpose if held in Landscape, and a Power Charging port for a 12 volt plug. On the top, still in Portrait, are the power button and the Headphone jack. The Audio quality of the A100 is fair when using the built-in speakers, but is much nicer when jacked in with Headphones. The quality will depend on the manufactured Earpieces to use the Dolby Quality technology the A100 has to offer. On the right, starting from the top, is the Lock switch, volume, and the hidden door for the Micro SD card for added storage. One nice addition that Acer setup with the A100, when holding the unit in Landscape mode the volume up button turns into volume down.
Internally, other than packing a nice everyday and gaming processor, the Iconia A100 has 2.4GHz Wireless N, Bluetooth 2.1 EDR (Enhanced Data Rate), Accelerometer (G-Sensor), electronic compass, gyrometer, and GPS. With the N-Class Wireless, this allows for better throughput when transferring data (with a N-Router/AP) to a shared device and storage over the airwaves. The Bluetooth offers close data transfers and Audio streaming to Bluetooth devices, like headsets and car audio. The Accelerometer and the gyrometer is used mainly for the NVIDIA Gaming and downloaded games from the Android App Store. The GPS is a nice added feature when using Google Maps and Google Navigation, and if installed paid Navigation.
I picked up the Acer Iconia A100 when I had seen the price and features. I currently have a Dell Streak 7, which offer 7” display at 800x600 and 512MB RAM versus the Iconia A100’s 1024x600 and 1GB RAM. I wanted (and times needed) a clear display and realstate to do more with a portable device. The size of both devices are pretty much same is physical dimensions, though button layouts are different. The Dell Streak 7, was designed more for Android 2.2, while the Iconia A100 is set for Android 3.2. With the lack of the 3 (and 4 button for 2.x), the Iconia relies on the onscreen buttons to select.
The Iconia A100, runs very well with transitions between home screen and applications being smooth. The touch screen itself I sometimes have issues with. Though changing between windows are solid, touching the screen and having the screen to” identify” the touch is either nonexistent or delayed. I am not sure when holding the device a finger happened to touch another part of the screen engaging Multi-touch or I did not apply enough pressure to have the system electrically see the gesture.
The display itself is clear and bright and when the brightness is lowered, it is fairly dark. Compared to the Dell Streak 7, the unit is a tad brighter and darker. I experienced issues with the Auto-Brightness control not allows functioning. The Auto control will not Dim when bright or the reverse has been experienced too. The A100 suffers like the Streak 7 when holding the device in Portrait mode. When holding, if you tilt the device to the right, the LCD clarity and color is lost and reading paper documents the aspect ratio does not allow the document to be fully readable. Also, in comparing the devices, the Camera’s on the A100 are better overall against the Streak 7. The front camera on the A100, is a much notable strength on the it when used.
When using the Wireless on the A100, I have issues with the device dropping connection when in sleep (even when in none power saving mode) and connecting to some Access Points. The Dell Streak 7 I rarely ever had this issue, but the Dell suffers with a less sensitive chip against the A100. The GPS on the A100 is very good, when engaged, it pickups the satellites quickly and much faster than the Streak 7. The Bluetooth audio quality in the A100 also is very good. It has clarity and strength without have to turn up the audio on the device high to project to a Bluetooth Audio receiver. The Streak 7 quality was average and when turned high, became distorted.
Battery life on the A100 is not to bad on the device. With the Device being smaller, the battery storage is less when compared to the Bigger units. The A500 holds a 3260 mAh 2 cell batteries versus the A100s 2 cell 1530 mAh. Charging the unit takes up to 2 hours and on a daily use can last on average 10 hours. When playing games, I had ran down as quick as 4 hours. I have connected 5 emails, RSS feed updates, roughly 80% brightness (Auto), and browsing. I leave on the Bluetooth to connect for Audio and Streaming Music off WiFi.
The Biggest issue that I have with the Acer Iconia A100, is the way they designed it to charge. The input jack is a small coaxial plug serving up 12Volts 1.5A, totaling 18Watts of power. You are not able to charge the device through a USB port or Charger. This is a major issue when you have a vehicle setup for charging USB devices, like the Streak 7, Droid2, Droid Bionic, and Bluetooth Earpiece. The Streak 7 needs 5Volt and 2A to charge, using 10-10.5W of power. Also, if you forgot your plug charger, you out of luck maintaining power on the Iconia.
In conclusion, the A100 is a quick device that allows for Email, Navigation (w/Wireless connection), Gaming, Document reading, and Browsing, offers it a good price. Prices originally was on a high side at $329, have been lowered to $229-249. This reduction in price will make way for the Ice Sandwich units that maybe released sometime in 2012, as the A200 10inch model will replace the A500 series.
-Physical 195 x 117 x 13.1 mm
-Screen 9.2x15mm = 7” Diagonal : (1024 x 600) resolution, 16:10 aspect ratio Processor
-NVIDIA® Tegra™ 2 Dual Core Mobile Processor
- RAM 1GB DDR2 Memory
-Internal 8GB Internal Storage
-Optional MicroSD memory card slot up to 32GB
-802.11b/g/n Wireless (802.11n 2.4GHz only)
-Micro USB 2.0 Port
- Micro HDMI™ Out (with support for 1080p & Dual Displays)
-5MP Rear Facing Camera with Auto Focus and single LED flash
-2MP Front Facing Camera
-G-Sensor, E-Compass, L-Sensor, Gyrometer