Acer has produced a few iterations of the Iconia B1, its lowest-cost Android tablet. The latest is called the Acer Iconia B1-720, and it is slimmer and lighter than the previous versions, but keeps the 7-inch screen.
As with the last Iconia B1, there are obvious compromises that come with a £120 price, but let's see whether they're deal-breakers.
Acer Iconia B1-720: Design and Features
The Acer Iconia is a plastic tablet with a textured rear. Acer says it has given the tablet a new soft-touch back, but it remains a fairly hard, plastic finish. It's a little slimmer than the last model too, but again it is not going to blow you away with its super slim body.
This is a tablet made with a specific audience in mind. It's a tablet for people who want to be able to hand it to their young kids without risking heartbreak should it get injured.
There are some thoughtful design changes, though. The speaker is now on the front to give it better projection, and the bezel is slightly slimmer than before. However, it's nowhere near as good-looking as something like an iPad mini or Acer's own new Iconia A1.
As with almost all Android tablets, the Iconia B1-720 uses a microUSB socket as its main connection – used to charge the battery and transfer any data to the 16GB of internal memory. On one side there's also a microSD slot for easy and cheap memory expansion. It's a must in a cheaper, low-storage tablet – something many miss in the Nexus 7 2.
Continuing the trend for the cheap and cheerful, the Acer Iconia B1-720 has a very low-resolution 7-inch screen of 1,024 x 600 pixels. Unlike the vast majority of big-name Android tablets, though, this one has a TN display, rather than the IPS type.
TN screens have much poorer viewing angles than a typical IPS screen, meaning that the Iconia B1-720 display goes dark and cloudy – the effect of contrast shift – when turned the wrong way. By tablet standards, it's quite poor. The display is better than that of the last model, though, with improved contrast thanks to a slimming-down of the screen architecture.
In our time with the Iconia B1 we didn't notice and particularly bad performance issues with the tablet's basic navigation, but it does have a fairly low-end processor. It's a dual-core 1.3GHz chip from MTK – the manufacturer behind most of Acer's previous budget tablet chipsets.
It runs the Iconia B1's Android 4.2 software. This isn't the newest version of Android – 4.4 KitKat is. However, it's not ancient either. And for the average user the biggest difference is Android 4.4's cleaner, cuter look.
One other cutback is that the Acer Iconia B1 only has one camera, not two. It's a very basic sensor as well, a VGA-quality one. It'll do the job for video chat but you wouldn't want to save the pictures taken with it.
The Acer Iconia B1-720 is a basic tablet, and it doesn't pretend to be anything else. However, you can get a significantly better tablet if you spend just a little more – from the Asus MeMo Pad HD 7 or an old Nexus 7 – making this something of an also-ran.
Next, read our best tablets round-up