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Acer Iconia A1 - Screen, Software Performance

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams



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Acer Iconia A1 – Screen

As with any tablet, video-playing is an obvious use of the Iconia A1, but its screen is mid-grade at best. It’s an IPS display, the same type used on most high-end tablets. However, it’s a good deal less advanced than the best out there.

When off, or displaying dark images, there’s a greyish quality to the A1’s blacks. Contrast is mediocre and in-use it’s pretty clear there’s a significant space between the top glass layer of the screen and the actual display later.

More expensive screens merge different layers of the screen to get rid of this 'recessed screen' effect. Acer Iconia A1 6

Colours too are not top-notch, either. They’re a little muted.

To complete the trio of compromises, the 1,024 x 768 pixel resolution is well below the ‘retina’ screens of expensive tablets, where pixel density is so high you can’t see any pixellation at all. Here, text in particular is clearly not pin-sharp.

Let’s take a step back, though, and remember that the Acer Iconia A1 costs just £150.

The IPS panel gives the tablet good viewing angles compared to previous budget tablet screens, which would become clouded in darkness when turned the wrong way. The Acer Iconia A1 may bring baseline image quality that won’t blow your socks off, but when you’re in the thick of playing a game or watching a video, the difference dims a little.

Its display also matches the most obvious top competitors at the price – the Asus Fonepad and Google Nexus 7.

Acer Iconia A1 1

Acer Iconia A1 – Software

It seems Acer has taken careful note of what the online tech enthusiast community is after in a budget tablet. The memory card slot, the iPad mini-style screen and video output are all things you’d see raved about on an Android enthusiast forum, and rightly so.

However, nowhere is Acer’s lack of egotism clearer than in the Iconia A1’s software. The tablet runs Android 4.2.2, a perfectly up-to-date version of the OS at the time of writing, and it’s virtually vanilla.

There’s no custom UI, and hardly any memory-clogging apps you’ll never use. There’s 11-12GB of storage left to install apps on once the Android OS has taken its share of the 16GB internal memory. AcerCloud gives you access to Acer cloud storage tied to an Acer account (free), there’s a file manager pre-installed, AccuWeather, a couple of games portals and Google’s standard apps.

There’s little there, and that’s exactly what we like to see. The Acer Iconia A1 has full access to the Google Play app store, and more-or-less leaves you free to make up your own mind about which apps to use.

This clean approach to the software matched with a quad-core MTK 1.2GHz processor makes day-to-day performance slick. That a tablet this cheap can be so free of lag in general operation is a delight to witness. The so-so screen may stop you from ever believing it’s a top-notch gadget, but it is snappy.

Acer Iconia A1 5

Acer Iconia A1 - Performance

Start to push the MTK processor and you’ll soon find its limits, though. Despite being a quad-core chip, it can’t handle top-end games like Real Racing 3 without chugging significantly. With a full complement of cars on-screen at once, the game was far from smooth.

This is as much down to the GPU part of the chipset as the CPU. The MediaTek 8125 engine within the Iconia A1 uses a PowerVR SGX 544 graphics chip. This is the same family used in seriously powerful mobile devices like the Samsung Galaxy S4, but a much less powerful version is seen here.

It is only the most challenging games that trip over, though, and other 3D titles such as Dead Trigger play perfectly.

We also encountered some compatibility problems thanks to the aspect ratio of the screen. A 1,024 x 768 pixel 4:3 screen is quite unusual among Android devices, and it tripped up a couple of games we tried – where the visuals didn’t spread the width of the screen, but the touchscreen play area did, meaning buttons’ touch zones became mis-aligned with their position on-screen.

We should stress, though, that the Iconia A1 played most games flawlessly. It’s a good gaming tablet, just not a perfect one.

George Dantzidis

May 4, 2013, 10:33 am

Can't wait till I get my hands on it.


May 4, 2013, 10:23 pm

So Apple release a smaller iPad following the success of the Nexus 7, despite saying they never would and they are an inspiration because one of the many many different tablets is the same size.

Total nonsense and just another attempt to shoehorn Apple into every article.


May 4, 2013, 10:31 pm

Really? It's the same size, and aspect ratio (4:3), as an iPad mini and it's the only Android tablet I know of to match it in this way. If that's not reasonable grounds to compare and contrast, I don't know what is. The only person with an agenda here is you.

Michael Kehm

May 7, 2013, 6:36 pm

1,024 x 768 is less than the Nexus 7, but with a bigger screen... there are higher 4:3 resolutions...


May 7, 2013, 7:18 pm

The "design inspiration of the moment" because one of the many many available Android tablets has the same screen size and ratio.

Gary Wood

May 7, 2013, 10:28 pm

*cough* Archos *cough*


May 8, 2013, 3:04 pm

Are you referring to the Archos 80 G9 tablet that came out months before iPad mini and had an 8", 4:3, 1024x768 screen?

TR reviewed it themselves I see, of course the review points out how its just like an iPad because of the ratio. I see a pattern emerging. I wonder if the iPad mini review mentions how Apple is using Archos for inspiration. http://www.trustedreviews.com/...

TR you should learn to take feedback and to leave Apple out of non Apple reviews.


May 8, 2013, 4:33 pm

Fair enough, you've found one, but I don't seriously believe Acer was sitting there going "let's make a tablet just like the Archos!".

I appreciate that Apple isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it's not reasonable, or sensible, to write about any tablet without reference to an iPad, just as it would make no sense to write about an iPhone without mentioning the numerous Android (and other) alternatives.


May 9, 2013, 10:49 pm

You can mention that it shares similarities in size and ratio to the iPad mini without fawning over Apple. That was my original point and that is what myself and many other people are fed up with.


June 23, 2013, 7:52 pm

stupid review the battery in the Acer Iconia A1 is 4960 mAh....


June 27, 2013, 1:53 pm

So would the Lenovo Ideatab A2109 be faster than this, even though it has 1GB less RAM (the Tegra 3 processor picking up the slack)?

Dave Ash

October 20, 2013, 5:04 pm

All these reviewers are biased to game playing, talking in milliseconds and clouding ones judgement due to new tablets on the market.. The unit feels big in the hand although far better viewing than any 7" with nice contrast and detail. Internet speed is as fast as the Asus Memo pad HD7, settings (wifi, gps etc) are also better accessed. The camera is not as good as the Asus Memo pad although I use a camera for photos and thats where the card slot is a plus. In my opinion you need to take these reviews with a pinch of salt and test yourself. Finally the new Nexus loses my vote as every retailer has the unit on demo so you cant test.


December 24, 2014, 8:56 pm

good value for the price!

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