Unlike many budget tablets, the Acer Iconia A1 has two cameras. There’s a 5-megapixel sensor on its rear, and a basic VGA sensor slap-bang in the middle of the screen surround.
Both cameras are – predictably – charitably described as basic. The main camera has no flash, and uses a fixed-focus lens. That means you have no control over the subject of your photo, and can’t take in-focus snaps of anything close-up.
Images are grainy and feature limited detail. These images are good for frivolous sharing over Twitter or Facebook, at a push.
Acer Iconia A1 – Battery life
Given this limited spec cred, its stamina is good. It will last for around eight hours of SD-quality video playback with a natively supported codec.
We wouldn’t recommend relying on the internal speaker for any movie-watching, though, as it’s a piddly mono job with little clout. Just like the Nexus 7, speaker quality isn’t something the Iconia A1 focuses on.
The Acer Iconia A1 is riddled with compromises. Its screen isn’t great, the internal speaker is mediocre, it’s a touch weighty and some of the most challenging games are a little too much for the MTK quad-core processor.
However, while they are too significant to forget with a wave of the hand, they don’t amount to a game-ending set of drawbacks. It’s well-made, its approach to software is just right and the 4:3 aspect ratio is great. It’s the screen shape that makes the Iconia A1 a solid alternative to the slightly more capable Asus Fonepad, as a 4:3 7.9-inch screen does seem a lot larger – and more comfortable on the eyes – than a 7-inch widescreen one. Although the Fonepad's built-in 3G is a tempting addition.
In reality, though, at this size and price you're choosing between the Nexus 7 and the Iconia A1. If you prefer the iPad-like screen aspect, the A1 is your best bet. It's a very capable tablet at a great price. But if that doesn't matter to you the Nexus 7 still edges it. It's the same price and has a higher capacity battery, two key things in its favour.
The Acer Iconia A1 has a bunch of minor problems. Its entry-level IPS screen is ageing badly, it doesn’t have as much power on tap as its ‘quad-core’ processor may suggest and it’s a bit heavy. But all this proves is that this £150 is not magic. There are compromises involved in a tablet this cheap, but weigh them up against the savings made and this fun, accessible little Acer makes a lot of sense.