Acer Iconia Tab A500: A Tablet With Honeycomb 3.1

USB Support: The Hidden Gem

USB Flash Drives And External Hard Drives

Iconia A500: USB thumbdrive

There are several caveats with using USB storage devices on the Iconia A500. Any mass storage device can be read, but it must have a FAT16 or FAT32 file system. Second, there is no native NTFS support (third-party support requires rooting). Third, there is no native file manager in Honeycomb 3.0 or in the 3.1 update.

Fortunately, there is a third-party file manager that fills this void. OI File Manager lets you browse the contents of your USB drive. It also facilitates copying between your storage device and tablet, which is a big win. Adao File Manager doesn't detect the USB drive and has a cropped smartphone-sized UI. Astro File Manager can read, but it can't copy from the USB drive.

USB Files Not Detected By Most Third-Party Apps

If you don't install this file manager, you'll have a difficult time reading files from the attached device, as most third-party apps don't know those files are even there. For example, my USB flash drive has MP3s, H.264 movies, pictures, and some Word documents. If I open mVideoPlayer, none of the media files are listed.

Images and Videos Detected In Gallery App

Video Files on USB Drive Passed to Third-Party Apps From Gallery

Music Files Are Automatically Detected

Some files can be detected natively on the USB drive. For example, I can use the Gallery app to find images and videos. From there, I can direct a program to play or open a file. Additionally, music files are automatically detected by the Music and DoubleTwist apps. There's no stuttering either, as the USB 2.0 port provides enough bandwidth to stream MP3s.

OI File Manager: Browsing USB Drive

OI File Manager: Opening Word Document

3.1 Update: Now Access Word Docs Direct From Documents To Go

Files that don't fall into the categories of music, videos, or pictures can be opened through OI File Manager. With Honeycomb 3.0, this was a lifesaver because Word documents couldn't be accessed directly from Documents To Go, but they could be edited through the OI File Manager menu. The 3.1 update provides more native access, as files can now be directly accessed from the USB drive in Documents To Go.

This isn't the case with most third-party applications though. Without IO File Manager, accessing files through the A500's USB port would effectively be a broken feature in Honeycomb. Acer needs to thank the developers (OpenIntents) for this saving grace.

  • joytech22
    I have this tablet and I absolutely love it.
    It's great fun, has a great battery life compared to my laptops and I just enjoy it.

    I take it to college (I do I.T Cert IV, Diploma next year) and it's very handy for drafting documentation when working with the computers and taking notes.
  • acku
    Good luck on the Cert!

    Andrew Ku
  • Malachi1975
    I picked up the A500 after doing a hell of a lot of shopping for an Android Tablet and I have yet to look back with regrets. In fact, I have recommended it to several others who have picked it up. Compared to some of the other leading tablets out there, I would still choose the A500 time and again.
  • The latest update for Motorola Xoom (3.2) has MicroSD support.
  • acku
    ThisIsKevinYoThe latest update for Motorola Xoom (3.2) has MicroSD support.Yeah I saw an email from Motorola. The OTA update is rolling out in stages, which is why my Xoom probably didn't get the update last week. I need to test it out to confirm that it works.
  • This summed it up for me: "The Iconia A500 isn't any different from other tablets; you're paying more than you would for a better-performing notebook."

    If I'm to pay a significant fee for a niche product, it had better be really good at a specific purpose. Better at it, in fact, than other, cheaper products. I got my kindle despite the fact that you can read ebooks on computers, smart phones, ipods, etc, because it damn well did a great job of being a book. It did it better than these other devices. The form factor combined with the great battery life and easy on the eyes screen made it worth it. Plus, you can read it in sunlight.

    What then, is the purpose of buying a tablet over, say, a netbook? The tablet is geared at media consumption, but it doesn't do a significantly better job of that than the netbook. In fact, it does a worse job of it, allowing me fewer media options, while simultaneously costing more and having less storage, with an OS that won't run proper, useful software.

    Maybe they'll get better, but right now, they're overpriced toys.
  • ubercake
    First, let me say I can't stand Apple and I wasn't too impressed with the Zune. Because of its hardware, there is a lot of potential with the A500. The games look impressive with the Tegra2 and the nice screen. The sound is great for a tablet. The cameras (front and rear) are better than those available on the iPad.This is why I looked only at the Android Tablets when I shopped for a tablet.

    I bought the A500 under the assumption Skype, Netflix, HBO2Go, and Xfinity were standard apps across the Android offering. Turns out Netflix and Skype will run on newer phones with earlier versions of Android, but not this one.

    Xfinity and HBO2Go are yet to be created for Android.

    I worked with the network admin at my job to get this running on the network there (we are currently evaluating handhelds in the workplace) and we found it doesn't work on all PEAP/Wep Wifi network combos. It won't even connect out of the box. I read up on 'Advanced Network tools' for Android and found that people on earlier versions of Android were able to connect to this type of network using these tools. By golly they didn't work on this version.

    Additionally, those on screen keypads are frustrating. The lag is apparent if you have any typing ability beyond the 40wpm mark. If you type too quickly, it won't even pick up your laters as I think it recognizes them as "mistake touches".

    I've owned my A500 for around 2 months now. I've picked it up to use it around 10 times since I've gotten it primarily only because someone else was on my favorite laptop and I wanted to browse the web. I keep waiting for the update to let me do all the things I still can't and it hasn't come.

    The finger swipe games are fun for people who are into that. I'm not. There are plenty available.

    Again, I can't stand Apple, but out of the box we got the iPad on our corporate network and it plays Netflix, HBO2go, Xfinity and does Skype. While the hardware seems extremely advanced with these Android tablets, it seems the newer OSs are taking steps back in time.

    As a result, I've found this device to be an over-sized mediocre gaming device (like a DS) with OK web browsing capabilities since not everything works in the browsers on Android. It has plenty of potential since the hardware is great, but these things aren't ready for prime time. Look for mine on Ebay come late November if they don't pick up on real software support for these things or if I still can't connect to my corporate network.

    I sum it up as such:

    Unrealized potential means nothing!
    "Oh he was always so smart, but he just didn't apply himself" - kind of like that.
  • obarthelemy
    "lack of apps"... Which apps exactly ? There ain't thousands of identical apps, but which apps are currently missing on Android ?
  • cknobman
    Ive played with the Iconia first hand in a Best Buy along side other Android tablets (Xoom, Toshiba, Asus) and I thought the Iconia felt cheap and unpolished.

    Out of every tablet I have played with so far(sorry havent seen a Galaxy yet) the Asus is a homerun and there is absolutely no chance I would buy the Iconia or any other Android tablet besides the Asus.
  • Kahless01
    Didnt seem to catch my last comment. I believe your price is wrong. They price dropped the A500 recently and added a 32gb model to the lineup. There is a 64gb model on the way and they are also adding 3g/4g. Ive had my A500 for 2 months and forced 3.1 on it because i got tired of waiting for the update. Not missing my laptop too much beyond storage space for all my movies.