Acer Iconia Tab A700 boasts a full high-definition display, but performance suffers

Discussion in 'Acer Iconia Tab A700 Forum' started by Spider, Aug 3, 2012.

  1. Spider

    Spider Administrator Staff Member

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    Review: Acer Iconia Tab A700 boasts a full high-definition display, but performance suffers

    But high resolution comes at a cost -- and not just the $449 price tag, either
    Columns | Portable Devices
    Tablets | Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) | Reviews | Android

    [​IMG] By K. T. Bradford, updated 4 days ago

    [​IMG]

    With great resolution comes great responsibility (on the hardware side, anyway), and unfortunately this Iconia has a weakness that could prove fatal.

    Design
    People familiar with the Iconia Tab A510 will note that the A700 doesn't look much different. It's pretty much the same tablet, just with a higher resolution display. In some ways this is good — the tablet's curved edges make it very comfortable to hold in portrait orientation, and I'm a fan of the microSD card slot (that takes cards up to 64GB) and micro HDMI port. Unfortunately, the tablet seems ill-equipped to handle the extra graphics power needed for a full HD display. I'll get to that later.

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    The Iconia Tab A700 weighs around 1.5 pounds, so it's not the lightest tablet. Those of you who mostly use your tablets at home probably won't find this a huge drawback. Though after a half an hour of racing games my arms did feel the burn.

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    This is also not a tablet trying to be the thinnest. Again, not a huge problem. The curved edges and slightly rubberized back make for a comfortable grip and keep the A700 from looking bulky.

    The star of the show is, of course, the 10.1-inch display and its 1920 x 1200 pixel resolution that makes for a very pixel-dense display. Not on the same level as the new iPad, but good enough that text is crisp, photos pop, and HD videos look great. This is the highest resolution you'll find on an Android tablet and, right now, only the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity matches it.

    Unfortunately, the screen itself is very reflective and hard to see when there's a moderate amount of sunlight or even bright overheads. Viewing angles aren't great because of the glare, though in darkened rooms you get a wider range. I also found that the screen gets dirtier much faster than tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 and the new iPad.

    Software and apps
    The Iconia Tab A700 comes with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), Google's first operating system (OS) made for both tablets and smartphones. Acer does add a few enhancements to the OS, but nothing as extensive as skins like Samsung's TouchWiz or HTC's Sense.

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    The most noticeable addition is the Acer Ring, which may be familiar if you've used one of the company's other touchscreen devices before. It activates when you touch the green dot on the lower toolbar and brings up shortcuts to apps or functions. This is customizable in the Settings but may seem redundant when getting to apps in Android is pretty quick. Still, it's nice that users have a way to switch right to their favorite apps.

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    Users can also quick launch apps from the lockscreen. Yes, this is customizable as well.

    Pre-loaded apps owners will appreciate include Acer Print for easy wireless printing, a Files app, and the full version of Polaris Office. Though the tablet has access to Google's Play Store for apps, it also has the Amazon App Store.

    Acer's clear.fi sharing for photos, video and music make it simple for users to send media from one device to another, as long as they're Acer products. Otherwise, they make for decent media sorting apps.

    Media
    The full HD display means that watching video and playing graphics-intense games is a particular treat as far as visuals go. Out of the box, owners get access to a growing number of HD movies and TV shows from the Google Play Store. Plus there's Netflix.

    And while you're watching and playing videos, games, and music, you get the extra bonus of great audio. The speakers on the back of the tablet aren't all that special, though they do pump good volume. Plug in headphones or a good set of external speakers and you'll experience great audio quality thanks to Dolby Mobile audio. In the Settings area there's even an equalizer with some customizations.

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    Pictures taken with the rear-facing 5-megapixel camera are decent, especially outdoors, though nothing to get excited about in low light. The front-facing camera is good enough for Google+ Hangouts and other video chat apps.

    Performance
    Here's where we get to the bad news portion of the review. Because, as impressive as the Iconia Tab A700's specs sound, in practice the performance isn't what it should be for a $449 tablet.

    Inside, the A700 runs on an Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core CPU and 1GB of RAM. Normally this is a good combo, but since the version of Tegra 3 in use isn't as fast as the one you'll find in other tablets (such as the Asus Transformer Infinity), you don't get as much mileage out of it. Plus, Acer went with a lower cost DDR2 RAM instead of a faster DDR3 RAM. These choices coupled with the high-resolution screen mean that the A700 stumbles when it should fly.

    I often encountered stuttery performance when playing games. Several times apps just shut down randomly with no error message to explain why. Apps and windows took a few seconds longer to open than they should, and switching between them isn't as smooth as I'm used to with ICS tablets. These problems weren't constant, but they were consistent.

    It's possible Acer could fix some of them in a future update since oftentimes the problem lies in tweaking the software to work better with the hardware. But considering the resource-hungry display, that might not be possible.

    The A700 is a wifi-only tablet. I was able to get about 12 hours of use from the battery with wifi on, although I was only connected about 75% of the time. It lasted this long with mixed use — I also played games, watched videos, listened to music, and read on the tablet.

    Overall recommendation
    Acer's Iconia Tab A700 gets props for being the first Android tablet to market with a full HD display. The great design and excellent audio are also big pluses. The performance problems are enough to hold back on a whole-hearted recommendation, though. If future updates improve this aspect of the tablet, it could be a contender.

    If you find the A700's features appealing, take a look at the Iconia Tab A510. If a high-resolution screen is what you're after, the Asus Transformer Infinity may be a better bet.

     
  2. Douvie

    Douvie Senior Member

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    Icebike was saying something to do with the TEGRA 3's cores. Apparently it is something to do with the way it runs in normal mode on a fifth core (?) and when it kicks in to start using the other 4 cores - it really picks up the tempo. I'm not sure I haven't got one yet.
     
  3. serilom

    serilom Member

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    So Asus and Acer have similar offerings. It'll be interesting to see which is less expensive and carries more perks.

    The pixel density isn't much different. It's like a 30 pixel difference isn't it? Most eyes won't be able to tell a diff anyway.

    $450 for a 32 gb tablet is still better than the iPad though. I mean if you prefer spending another 100-150 dollars for a few more pixels you can't see, be my guest. It does have some cons though as listed in Acer Iconia Tab A700 Review, Specs, and Price
     
  4. J515OP

    J515OP Super Moderator Staff Member

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    As an additional update to this I believe it has been discussed in this forum (Acer Iconia Tab A700 Forum) that the Acer ring might be responsible for the slow down. Be sure to read through some threads here as there are probably some good tips on how to get the speed up to where it should be.
     
  5. ericw33

    ericw33 Member

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    ".. $450 for a 32 gb tablet is still better than the iPad though..." <- I just bought one new for $379 in Toronto, Canada. Bestbuy.ca has it - and I got Futureshop.ca to match it as I bought it a few days earlier (they have a 30 day price match). Bestbuy and Futureshop are the same company.

    Performance on mine has been pretty good - much faster then my Gateway A60 (repackaged Acer A500). The screen is amazing but (as everyone knows) the right side does get quite warm. Have not noticed any missed key strokes or lags - probably due to the minor upgrades since it came out. With Jelly Bean 4.1 coming out in December I bet they will iron those things out.

    So far I really like it - if I didn't I was getting the Asus TF700. For $379 (Acer) versus $499 (Asus TF700) - and not including the 'docking station' price on the TF700 - the Acer is a real bargain! So far all my items work great on it - even my Coby MID1125/A500 case.



    EW
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2012

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