Acer Iconia A100 Android Honeycomb tablet review

Summary of my Acer Iconia A100 tablet review: The Iconia A100 is probably the best tablet available for Android Honeycomb developers at the time of this writing (mid-March, 2012), but I don't recommend it for consumers.

Iconia A100 -The "pros"

Overall, I'd give the Iconia A100 a 7 out of 10 on my scoring scale (I reduced this from an "8" after living with it for a week), so even if I don't write everything I like, there is a lot to like about it:

  • Except for web browsing, the Iconia is plenty fast.
  • I really like the Android Honeycomb operating system.
  • The battery lifetime seems "okay", but I've been watching Netflix and listening to Pandora on it a lot, so as a result it hasn't lasted a full day on a single charge.
  • Despite its thickness, it's not too heavy.
  • For just a little more money than a Kindle Fire or B&N Nook it has many more features, including the Android Honeycomb OS, GPS, SD card, USB port, cameras, HDMI out, external volume controls, and whatever else I can't remember at the moment.
  • At prices between $217 and $280 currently, I think it's a better value than the Kindle Fire or Nook -- if you're a Honeycomb programmer.

The cons

There are also a handful of things I don't like about the Iconia A100:

  • The A100 is a little on the thick side. An iPad or Galaxy Tab is significantly thinner.
  • It gets warm, though it has never gotten too warm or hot.
  • The case is plastic. Since I'm buying this so I can use it as a developer/test system that doesn't matter, but I wouldn't like it if I were buying it for recreational use.
  • I wish it had a physical home button I could press to turn it on. It does have a Home button, but it's not a physical button you can press, it's an electronic button that works by sense of touch.
  • The "auto brightness" control doesn't work very well. I don't know if this is a Honeycomb problem, or an Acer problem, but when I use that control the screen is always too dark. As a result I have to adjust that several times per day.
  • Updating this a few weeks later, the brightness issue would drive me insane and burn out my retinas if I had to use this device every day as a consumer. My iPhone and iPad are a pleasure to look at, while this screen is always either too bright or too dim.
  • Web browsing can be painfully slow. As a result I currently have four or five different browsers installed (Firefox, Opera, Dolpin, etc.), trying to find a browser that is consistently fast.
  • The documentation says there's only 1GB of RAM available to running apps, even though the system has 8GB RAM overall. I bought the A100 so I could write and test my apps for the Android platform, so this low memory is actually good for me (as a developer), but it's worth mentioning. More expensive Android tablets seem to give you more available RAM.

The quirks

I don't like the 7" form factor, it's a little too small for my eyes. This has nothing to do with the Iconia though; I'd have the same problem with any 7" tablet, so I've listed this complaint here separately. From a size perspective I'd much rather use the iPad 2 for extended periods.

After using the Iconia A100 for about a week now, one of its weirdest quirks is how it handles power, specifically being plugged in, and unplugged. If you plug it in, the login/welcome screen is displayed ... and then it never goes off. I first noticed this one night after charging it, and found it still on the next morning. It also turns itself on if you unplug it, either from a power supply or USB cable. I don't like this behavior, but again, I'm just using this as a dev system, so I can live with it.

Acer Iconia A100 tablet review - Summary

As mentioned, despite listing all those "cons" there, I give the Iconia A100 a 7 out of 10 on my scoring system. In school that would be a low "C" grade, and I think that's where it fits. For my needs as an Android developer, with prices ranging from $217 to $270, it's currently the best Honeycomb tablet around for a development platform, but I wouldn't want it to be my only tablet if I were a regular consumer. 

Here's a link to the Iconia A100 on