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Meet Acer's Iconia Tab A500

Acer Iconia Tab A500: A Tablet With Honeycomb 3.1

Click to view Picture GalleryClick to view Picture Gallery

Compared to the Xoom, the Iconia A500 is slightly heavier at 1.65 lbs. Both are nowhere as thin or light as the iPad 2. But remember that these are still first-generation Android tablets.

Thickness Compared to AA BatteryThickness Compared to AA Battery

iPad (3G)
iPad 2 (3G)
XoomIconia A500
Length 9.56"9.5"9.8"10.2"
Screen Size9.7"9.7"10.1"10.1"
Aspect Ratio4:34:316:1016:10
1.6 lb1.33 lb1.5 lb1.65 lb

As with the Xoom (and unlike Apple), Acer employs a wide-aspect (16:10) display. As a result, it's slightly narrow than what you'd see on an iPad. Consequently, you'd find yourself holding the Iconia Tab A500 mostly in landscape mode.

We discussed this in the Xoom review, but Apple is clearly taking a different approach, mimicking a pad of paper. That's why it uses a standard (4:3) aspect ratio. You can use the Iconia Tab in portrait mode, but it's a little awkward since you lose a lot of horizontal workspace.

Left SideLeft SideRight SideRight Side

Cable management is a bit of a mess on the Iconia A500 because its I/O ports are located on both sides. On the left, you have the HDMI Mini connector and headphone port. On the right side, you have the AC, Micro-B USB, and full-sized USB ports. This is more of an issue when you're trying to output video (more on that in a bit).

Top: Volume, Orientation Lock, miniSDTop: Volume, Orientation Lock, miniSD

Bottom: Docking ConnectorBottom: Docking Connector

Unfortunately, the button layout isn't configured well for landscape mode. If you're holding the tablet with two hands, you'll probably use your left hand to turn it on. However, in order to change volume, you have to hold the A500 at the corners with both hands.

Acer is going for a simpler aesthetic design than the Xoom. It's somewhat deceptive due to the texture, but the Iconia A500's case is made of blush aluminum, which has been polished down to feel nearly as smooth as ABS plastic. This is a plus for road warriors who might not always be super-careful about the way they set their gear down.

That's very different from what you get with an iPad. If you drag the Iconia A500 across a table, you don’t hear the noise of particles grinding against the surface. Better yet, a single scratch isn't visible after a full week of use.

CameraiPad 2
XoomIconia A500
0.3 MP (640x480)
2.0 MP (1600 x 1200)2.0 MP (1600 x 1200)
0.7 MP (960x720)
5.0 MP (2592 x 1944) 5.0 MP (2592 x 1944)

Like the Xoom, the Iconia A500 is equipped with a front-facing 2.0 MP camera and a rear-facing 5.0 MP camera. The main difference is that Acer only saw fit to equip its tablet with a single LED flash. In comparison, the Xoom sports a dual-LED flash. While the two tablets' cameras share similar specs, the output quality is slightly different between the two Android tablets.

The two stereo speakers on the rear of the tablet offer better audio performance than the iPad's mono speaker, but they're too weak to be of any practical use other than generic audio notifications. If you plan to watch a movie or listen to audio tracks, use the audio port on the left side to connect a pair of headphones instead.

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