The Acer Iconia Tab 10 is the Taiwanese company’s 10.1-inch entertainment-focused tablet. It's in the same size bracket as the excellent iPad Air 2 and Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5, though it’s significantly cheaper at just £179.99.
“See the difference and feel the beat” is the Iconia’s tagline. We disagree, since both the screen and speakers have a few problems. It’s a perfectly functional tablet, with battery life and value being its biggest strengths. However, the funky-looking Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10 HD+, now available for £169.99, is better overall.
The Acer Iconia Tab 10 is a nice-looking tablet. It’s not a stunner by any means – the iPad Air 2 and Dell Venue 8 7000 stand out in that respect – but its design is clean and simple.
Its glossy white plastic fascia is attached to the tough aluminium rear via a white plastic frame. The curved corners and sides feel nice in the hands, though the frame itself isn’t quite uniform with the front face. It juts out a little, which is annoying because it digs into your thumbs when you’re holding it. The primary camera also sticks out of the rear side, which is unusual and unsightly.
You’ll struggle to hold it in one hand for long periods of time, but 520g is light for a 10-inch tablet at this price. The slightly larger Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 weighs significantly less, at 465g, but also costs over £200 more. Meanwhile, the Yoga Tablet 10 HD+ weighs a monstrous 626g.
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The Iconia Tab 10 is a friendly size too, at 256 x 171 x 8.9mm. However, in portrait mode it looks awkwardly tall and thin, but we’ll focus more on that later in the review.
The Iconia comes with 32GB of flash memory as standard, but you can expand this via the microSD card slot. There are ports for Micro USB and HDMI too, which is a generous offering overall. In landscape mode, all of these, as well as the power button and headphone jack, sit on the left edge. While this setup will please most left-handers, it also makes it tricky to hold the tablet when headphones are plugged in, since the jack sits exactly where your hand would usually be.
The volume buttons are on the top edge, towards the left-hand side, while the front-facing camera lies above the screen, just off-centre. It also runs Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi.
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The 10.1-inch, 1,280 x 800 Active Matrix TFT LCD screen isn’t pin sharp, but its sheer size means it’s still good for watching movies on. It’s lovely and bright too, which makes it easy to use outdoors. Viewing angles and black levels are good, though it struggles to differentiate between the brightest colours on screen.
The display is also really touch-responsive, making for smooth scrolling and fuss-free typing. We managed to compose emails and notes quickly and easily with very few errors. The anti-fingerprint coating definitely toned down the residue left behind by our greasy digits, but couldn’t cut out our smudges completely. Acer also says the screen is protected by the latest version of Corning Gorilla Glass, which should ensure it survives minor drops and collisions.
However, it’s odd to come across the 16:10 aspect ratio on tablets this large, and the Iconia Tab 10 does feel ungainly and imposing in portrait mode. We’re much more used to seeing the squarer 4:3 ratio on anything 10 inches and above, which isn’t the best shape for watching videos on, but is superior for pretty much everything else. The Iconia’s screen is similar in shape to that of the Nexus 7, though it’s slightly less elongated.
As expected, it’s not great for browsing web pages in portrait mode, with sites appearing squashed and text becoming too small to read as a result. If you want to use the Iconia for reading during the daily commute, you’ll have to use it in landscape mode. This position is best for watching videos too, with only thin black bars appearing at the top and bottom of the picture.
A pair of Dolby-certified speakers sits on the rear side, but they’re easy to block with your hands in landscape mode. Since the Iconia doesn’t come with a tablet stand in the box, we found ourselves sitting it flat on tables and beds, and sound quality suffered as a result, coming out muffled and quiet.
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Even if you hold the tablet in portrait mode or prop it up so as not to obstruct the speakers, they’re not particularly loud and are easily drowned out by background noise, such as construction work going on outside. We’d recommend investing in a good portable speaker or getting used to wearing your headphones quite regularly.