Acer Iconia Tab A500 review

Price when reviewed

Acer’s Iconia Tab A500 is the third Android 3-based tablet in a week to reach the PC Pro office. It’s not as radical as the convertible Asus Eee Pad Transformer, but as a straightforward tablet it gives both Asus’ offering and the Motorola Xoom a run for their money.

The hardware cuts a familiar dash. As with the Xoom and the Transformer, there’s a 10.1in 1,280 x 800 resolution display, and the tablet is powered by the dual-core 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 processor. There’s 1GB of RAM and 32GB of integrated flash storage.

The A500 also sports a 5-megapixel camera on the rear and a 2-megapixel one up front, and around the edges are scattered a good selection of ports: a proprietary docking connector at the bottom, Micro HDMI on the left, micro-USB (plus an upstream USB-A port) on the right, and a microSD slot on top. For those who can’t live without 3G, the A501, including a cellular data modem, will be available from 24 May for £530. Both versions include GPS.

Acer Iconia Tab A500

Physically, the Iconia Tab A500 sits somewhere between the Xoom and the Transformer: it isn’t quite as attractive as the former, but its aluminium exterior, which wraps sensuously around the top and bottom edges of the tablet, makes it look and feel more expensive than the latter.

It’s a hefty slab, though, weighing in at 756g and measuring a broad 260mm across. That may sound close to the Xoom’s 729g, 249mm frame, but the extra ballast is instantly noticeable when you pick it up. Once you’ve been holding it a while, to play games or watch video, the corners jab uncomfortably into your palms.


The Iconia is pleasingly light on its feet. Android 3’s menus and animations whizz by more smoothly than on the Xoom, and rotating the tablet from portrait to landscape mode doesn’t produce quite the same lag. Generally it feels pretty responsive.

Our performance tests back up this impression, with the Android-centric Quadrant app producing a score of 1,887, the SunSpider JavaScript test completing in two seconds and the BBC homepage loading in an average time of four seconds. The games we tested played smoothly too, from sedate titles such as Angry Birds to much more intensive titles such as Need for Speed Shift, Gun Bros and the Tegra Zone game, Fruit Ninja HD.

When panning and zooming around complex web pages, however, the Iconia Tab A500 suffers from the same slight sluggishness as other Android 3 tablets. The problem’s exacerbated by the presence of Flash components, but you can mitigate that by delving into the browser’s settings and switching Enable plug-ins to On demand. Pages then load and scroll more smoothly until you activate their rich content.

Acer Iconia Tab A500

Battery life is middling. With a low-resolution podcast video on loop, and the screen set to medium brightness, the Iconia lasted 10hrs 1min in our test. That’s slightly longer than the tablet part of the Asus Eee Pad Transformer, but behind the 12hrs 47mins of the Motorola Xoom, and (as with all these Android 3 tablets) well behind the iPad or iPad 2.


Acer has chosen to leave the Android 3 user interface as is, with none of the tweaks we’re used to seeing on Android-based smartphones. It has, however, thrown in a few extra apps. First up is a rather pointless, landscape-only, launch app. This duplicates the Android desktop, but with less flexibility; we suggest you remove it to free up storage space.



Dimensions 260 x 13 x 176mm (WDH)
Weight 756g


Primary keyboard On-screen
Screen size 10.1in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,280
Resolution screen vertical 800
Display type Graphical LCD
Panel technology TFT

Core specifications

CPU frequency, MHz 1,000MHz
Integrated memory 32.0GB
RAM capacity 1,024MB


Camera megapixel rating 5.0mp
Focus type Autofocus
Video capture? yes


WiFi standard 802.11n
Bluetooth support yes
Integrated GPS yes
Upstream USB ports 1
HDMI output? yes


Mobile operating system Android 3

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