- Respectable performance
- Decent connectivity
- Expandable memory
- Mediocre battery life
- Dull screen
- Drab design
- Review Price: £249.99
- Tegra 3 quad-core 1.2GHz processor
- 1GB RAM
- 16GB internal memory
- microSD memory card slot
Lower-cost tablets are all the rage these days. Where most budget tablets were once borderline unusable, tabs like the Acer Iconia Tab A210 can now offer fast processors, decent-quality screens and almost all the capability of more expensive devices, all for well under £300.
It may not be desirable or all that slick, but the Acer Iconia Tab A210 does tick some of the right boxes for the tech-heads.
Acer Iconia Tab A210 Design
The Acer Iconia Tab A210 is a 10.1-inch tablet. It’s still the most common size among Android tablets, and while it sits happily among its 10-inch peers, it’s as much a reaction to the low-cost Google Nexus 7 as rival full-size models.
Acer’s plan here is to shave off all the thrills to provide about 85 percent of what the top models offer for around 60 percent of the price. For a 16GB Acer Iconia Tab A210, you’re looking at a cost of around £250. It sits half-way between the Google Nexus 7 and iPad 4.
One of the first casualties of going for an Acer tablet is style. Although the Acer Iconia Tab A210 uses a similar frame design to the higher-end models in the range, it’s not particularly attractive. The textured silver back is a single piece of curved, dotted plastic, but it bulges out conspicuously and lacks grace – a bit like the lid of a budget laptop.
The Acer Iconia Tab A210 isn’t slim or light, either. At 712g and 12.4mm thick, it’s a chunky beast that’ll give you forearms the size of thighs if you try and hold it one-handed daily.
This is a landscape orientation tablet that you’re meant to hold in two hands. However, its edges aren’t smoothly curved but relatively sharp on these sides. In-hand comfort is just ok, nothing more.
A lack of design panache robs the Acer Iconia Tab A210 of the desirability factor that’s a pretty important part of a tablet. And although valuing function over form is a strategy we can respect, the added weight factor means it encroaches into what the tablet is actually like to use too.
Acer Iconia Tab A210 Specs
There are some hardware benefits, though. The Acer Iconia Tab A210 offers above-average connectivity. All the connectors bar the power plug sit on the left edge, some out on show, others under a little plastic flap. Nakedly showing their wares are the headphone jack, microUSB socket and full-size USB. It’s the USB that’s a break from the norm, letting you plug in a keyboard or mouse easily. A thinner tablet simply couldn’t fit one in.
Under the plastic flap on this edge there’s a microSD memory card slot and a little recessed reset button. The flap isn’t exactly graceful and cements the Acer Iconia Tab A210 as vice president of the tablet world’s chess club, in aesthetic terms, but it helps to ensure that your hands don’t rest over any of the sockets.
The Acer Iconia Tab A210 isn’t a tablet most will be proud to hang out with, but there are a few thoughtful hardware tweaks like this.
There’s an autorotate lock on the top edge – which is extremely useful for extreme lounging – and there are stereo speakers on the rear, rather than just the mono you might expect in a low-ish-cost tablet. And while the back doesn’t look great, it is lightly textured to give a more pleasant surface for your digits to rest upon.
The Acer Iconia Tab A210 – it’s not cool, it’s not sleek and it’s not hugely desirable, but it doesn’t make any downright wrong hardware decisions either. Aside from the dated-feeling cylindrical power socket, that is – it’s so 2007.
Acer Iconia Tab A210 Screen
The aspect of budget tablets of old that suffered the most from cost-saving cuts was the screen. Rubbish TN panels would become a veiled mess as soon as you turned the tablet the wrong way, and thankfully the Acer Iconia Tab A210 is nothing like those old dogs.
There’s a loss of brightness when the Acer Iconia Tab A210 tablet is viewed from an angle, but you can still see fairly clearly what’s on screen – there’s no show-stopping contrast shift here. And at 10.1 inches across, you could just about squeeze a couple friends around the tablet to watch a film.
The Acer Iconia Tab A210’s screen resolution is on-par with leading Android tablets of 2011 like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 – 1,280 x 800 pixels. In these days of Retina displays and Full HD tablets, it’s not impressive, and is only on-par with the 7-inch, cheaper Google Nexus 7.
Much like its design, the Acer Iconia Tab A210 screen is functional but little more. Colours look washed out and the pixel structure is quite visible, making it look like there are tiny little lines etched into the display if you set your critical gaze to full beam.
Top brightness isn’t too hot either, which will be a problem if you intend to use the tablet outside, as its finish is highly reflective. The screen is best described as pedestrian.
Acer Iconia Tab A210 Interface
The Acer Iconia Tab A210 uses a modified version of Google’s Android OS, the Ice Cream Sandwich version. Acer’s custom user interface doesn’t fiddle with the system’s basics too much, and you still have the standard five home screens to fill with widgets, shortcuts and the like.
Thanks to the quad-core Tegra 3 1.2GHz processor, general performance is good but – like any Ice Cream Sandwich-based tablet – it could really do with an upgrade to Android Jelly Bean. This version is much faster, and while the Acer Iconia Tab A210 doesn’t suffer from major lag, there are occasional creaky transitions and pauses.
Changes made by Acer are mostly superficial, but there are a few noteworthy bits. The Acer Iconia Tab A210 has a custom “ring” lock screen that lets you launch into one of four pre-selected apps. An extra button has been added to the persistent nav bar at the bottom of the screen too, which accesses the Acer Ring overlay menu.
This again lets you launch a few favourite apps, as well as change volume, take a screenshot or access your web bookmarks. It’s a neat addition, but we wish it wasn’t announced on the nav bar with a bright green button. Like the hardware itself, it suggests the Acer design studio could do with an injection of taste serum.
The Android notifications pop-up menu and the nav bar icons have been re-designed in the Acer Iconia Tab A210 too, without any lime green issues. The notifications menu provides big buttons that let you turn off features like GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth quickly, which will help when you’re trying to conserve battery life.
What’s more useful, though, are the bespoke music and video apps, which we’ll get onto later.
Acer Iconia Tab A210 Browser
The Acer Iconia Tab A210 uses the stock Android browser rather than the snazzier Chrome, which became the standard for Android tablets following the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update. You can always download Chrome from Google Play if you fancy, though.
A 10.1in tablet like the Acer Iconia Tab A210 offers a great browsing experience. With a nippy-enough processor, responsive capacitive touchscreen and large-enough display, it’s a great device to lounge about on the sofa with, surfing idly. Android no longer supports Adobe Flash, which is a shame, but otherwise it’s a browsing star – like every half-decent tablet.
Acer Iconia Tab A210 Multimedia
While the browser is generic, Acer has put some real effort into upping the multimedia skills of the Acer Iconia Tab A210. There are non-standard video and music players pre-installed.
The most useful is the video player. This increases the native video skills of the tablet hugely. Without any extra tweaking, many Android Ice Cream Sandwich devices can only play basic video types like H264 and MP4, but the Acer Iconia Tab A210 can handle just about anything you’d care to throw at it.
Its quad-core Tegra 3 1.2GHz processor has no problems with most HD video content, only dropping the occasional frame. Video tends to highlight the limitations of the so-so screen, though, in particular the dull colours.
The music player app is good too, with an interface that’s been designed with the screen dimensions of the tablet in mind. It’s not outright beautiful, but lets you flick through a large music library quickly. Music file support is also worth a nod, with audiophile favourite FLAC supported alongside more commonly-used formats like MP3 and AAC.
The internal speakers sit on the bottom of the tablet’s rear, providing stereo sound. However, sound quality isn’t too hot. It’s a little harsh at top volume and there’s not a great deal of body to it.
Acer Iconia Tab A210 Apps
When you have the Google Play app store and its 700,000-odd app catalogue at your fingertips, non-exclusive pre-installed apps don’t matter a great deal in tablets like the Acer Iconia Tab A210. However, Acer does include Polaris Office, a Microsoft Office-style suite that you normally have to pay for.
The Acer Iconia Tab A210 also comes with integrated wireless printer software, but the rest of the pre-installed goodies can easily be found with a quick trip to Google Play. However, the solid multimedia apps and the Polaris Office suit amount to an usually good crop of extras – no annoying fluff and some worthwile additions.
Acer Iconia Tab A210 Camera
There’s just one camera on the Acer Iconia Tab A210, a user-facing sensor that’s there to provide video chat functionality. It’s a 2-megapixel sensor, which is quite high-resolution for a front snapper. You can take stills or record HD video, although it’s only really there to let you chat over Wi-Fi as captured images are low-quality. Skype doesn’t come pre-installed but it’s just a few taps away.
Acer Iconia Tab A210 Battery Life and Connectivity
The Acer Iconia Tab A210 has a 3,260mAh battery, which is very low-capacity for a tablet of this size. Compared to the 7000mAh unit of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 or the mammoth 11,666mAh unit of the iPad 4.
We left the Acer Iconia Tab A210 running a looped video with brightness set to 50 percent and it lasted for six hours. It’s enough to keep you entertained on non-transatlantic flights, but in the tablet world it’s a pretty poor performance. We expect to see at least eight hours of stamina from a tablet this size.
It doesn’t miss out on too many other features you can’t see, though. It has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, only missing out on NFC, which is a wireless standard used for mobile payments in places like the EAT café chain. There’s no 3G option available, so you’re stuck with Wi-Fi with the Acer Iconia Tab A210.
Acer Iconia Tab A210 Verdict
The Acer Iconia Tab A210 is a partly-successful attempt at a low-cost Android tablet. It avoids the most serious pitfalls of early lower-cost Android tablets, but its pricing isn’t aggressive enough to compete with the stars of the quickly developing budget market. The screen isn’t great, the design won’t get many excited and battery life is poor.
Score in detail
Screen Quality 6
Battery Life 5
|Camera (Megapixel)||2 Megapixel|
|Front Facing Camera (Megapixel)||Yes Megapixel|
|Resolution||1280 x 800|