Acer Iconia A1-810 8 inch Tablet Review

Today we are going to take a look at the Acer Iconia A1-810 tablet which is designed for those users who are looking to enjoy the benefits of a tablet without spending a fortune.  In fact, this particular model is available from around £160, which sounds like an exciting proposition if it can deliver a good experience.
Over the past couple of years we have seen most large PC and mobile manufacturers release a tablet of some form or another.  So it’s no surprise that Acer have designed their own range of tablets.  The Iconia A1-810 isn’t their cheapest model, but is still part of their value range. It seeks to differentiate itself from the competition by boasting a larger-than-average 7.9″ screen, akin to that of the iPad Mini.
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Features

  • 7.9 inch IPS display that still fits in one hand.
  • The display with IPS technology supports wide viewing angles.
  • Quad-core processing power for smooth performance with any media.
  • Acer Touch WakeApp – Touch the display with a 5-finger or 2-thumb gesture to wake up the device. Access your favourite app straight from sleep mode.
  • 4:3 aspect ratio provides larger viewing area.
  • Gyroscope enhances immersive gameplay.
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The Iconia A1 is supplied in an attractively decorated box which features a wood-effect design. There is a large image of the tablet on the front of the box which gives you an idea of the design of the tablet before opening.
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Turning the box over reveals some detailed information about the features and specification of the tablet. The box feels very substantial and should do a good job of protecting the tablet during transit.
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Inside the box, we find a couple of items bundled with the tablet. Our sample was supplied with a European adaptor only, however retail versions in the UK will feature a UK plug. Aside from this adapter and the USB cable, the only items we find inside the box are a couple of user guides.
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As with most tablets, the front of the Iconia A1 is simply an expanse of glass which covers the screen and a wide border around it. This isn’t Gorilla Glass, though, so may be more prone to breakages than more expensive models.
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Acer has tried to differentiate the Iconia A1 a little from the competition by using a 7.9” screen instead of a more common 7” unit. Most of the extra screen real estate has been gained in the width of the screen as it has a 4:3 aspect ratio. In fact, the A1 has exactly the same screen dimensions and resolution as the iPad Mini.
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While the screen size is exactly the same as the iPad Mini, the quality isn’t. The screen is a bit grainy and lacks in both brightness and vibrance of colours. Viewing angles are fairly good thanks to the IPS panel, but the 1024 x 768 (XGA) resolution won’t let you play 720P video natively. The latter is also a flaw of the iPad Mini however and, if we factor in the £100 price difference between the two devices, the less than perfect screen can be forgiven.
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The tiny front facing camera is the only clue to which way round you should actually hold the tablet from the front, so we often found ourselves picking it up upside down. The front facing camera features a 0.3 Megapixel fixed-focus sensor which is just about adequate for video chatting on Skype. We wouldn’t recommend it for taking ‘selfies’, though, as the quality just isn’t up to scratch.
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Acer has chosen to use plastic for the back panel which is exactly what we would expect at the price point. Our sample is finished in matte-white but it’s also available in black. It feels good quality and marks much less readily than gloss plastic. If you’re worried about keeping the device in pristine condition we would lean towards black as a colour choice as the white finish can get dirty.
There is a small inbuilt speaker built into the rear casing which is fairly punchy and is adequate for watching a movie on the go.  We would recommend using headphones instead, though, as the sound quality isn’t great.
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The power button is located on the top of the tablet, with the volume rocker and micro SD slot on the right hand side of the device.  The camera is located in the same corner on the reverse of the tablet.  The camera is a 5 megapixel fixed focus module so we aren’t expecting great results in our camera quality tests.
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The only other connectors on the tablet are the micro-USB slot in the bottom, the mini-HDMI in the right hand side and the 3.5mm headphone jack in the top of the tablet.
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The Iconia A1 is supplied with a fairly vanilla version of Android which only has a few customization here and there.  It boasts Jelly Bean 4.2.2 which is the most up-to-date version.
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One of the most interesting customization is called ‘Touch WakeApp’ which can be accessed through the settings panel.  This lets you instantly unlock the tablet and launch specified applications, either by swiping five fingers down the screen or by using a finger on either side.
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Acer also include an app called ‘Acer Cloud’ which provides some free online storage space for you provided you sign up to an Acer account.  This can then be accessed through all of your other devices.
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Our sample of the A1 is a 16 GB version and had just over 11 GB of free space available when we received it.  So we imagine the 8 GB version would have around 3 GB to 4 GB of free space.  By the time we had customised it and put some content on there, we only had around 9.5 GB of space remaining.  If this isn’t enough, an additional 16 GB can be added through the microSD card slot, although this will cost extra.
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The Iconia A1 is supplied with both Chrome and Android’s stock browser installed.  We found the standard Browser offered a better user experience as pinch to zoom and scrolling were executed much more smoothly than Chrome.  Perhaps this is down to the limited performance of the processor.
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The on-screen keyboard is a standard Android affair which is fairly easy to use.  There are other keyboards available through the Google Play store should you want something more sophisticated, though.
Multimedia
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We tested the multimedia performance of the Iconia A1 with a number of file types.  The built in media player was able to cope with most video formats without issue, however it wasn’t able to decode the audio track on our MKV test video.  For this, we had to download MX Player which features the correct codecs.
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The Iconia A1 was also able to handle flash video playback on YouTube through the inbuilt browser without issue.  The video playback was extremely smooth indeed and we didn’t notice any hiccups throughout our tests.
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We also tested the tablet with BBC iPlayer which worked flawlessly.  The 8 GB model won’t be ideal for iPlayer going forward, though, as there won’t be much space to store programs when they become available for download in the near future.
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The inbuilt music player is the standard version of Google Play that is bundled with Android. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though as it’s easy to navigate and makes it simple to sort music into playlists.  It also features a music store for those who want to purchase and download content directly onto the tablet.
There isn’t anything particularly impressive about the quality of sound produced by this tablet, however we don’t have any complaints.  It will certainly suffice when watching movies and for casually listening to music.
Hardware Performance
Acer have chosen to use a MediaTek Quad-Core processor in the Iconia A1 which runs at 1.2 GHz.  This is value model based on ARM architecture.  Gaming performance is fairly good, however it struggles a little with more demanding titles.

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These results show that the Acer Iconia A1 is fairly capable performance-wise for a value tablet.
Camera Application
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The camera application is very basic and features a large capture button on the right hand side.  There are only two buttons flanking the capture button; one which lets you switch between video and panorama mode and another which brings up a few options which let you switch to the front camera, choose a white balance preset or configure the quality settings of the camera.
Camera Samples
Rear facing camera:
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Front facing camera:
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As you can see from the samples above, neither camera is going to win any awards for photo quality but they will suffice for most tablet users.
After testing the Iconia A1 for a couple of weeks, we have been very impressed with the battery life that it has to offer as it has never let us down.  In fact, the 4960 mAH battery in this tablet is larger than most of its competitors.
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In our battery life test we ran a 30 minute MKV video clip with the display at full brightness and Wi-Fi (and notifications) switched on.  We recorded the decrease in battery capacity over this 30 minutes (6% decrease) and then calculated the time it would take to completely discharge the battery from this.
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Despite the Iconia A1 being a budget model, it’s clear that Acer haven’t compromised on the battery.
Overall we are pretty impressed with what the Acer Iconia A1-810 has to offer.  Let’s be clear, this tablet is designed to offer great value for money and isn’t comparable to a lot of tablets on the market such as the iPad Mini in terms of specification because it’s around £100 cheaper.
One of the key differentiating factors of this tablet is the 7.9″ screen which is larger than most of the competition.  It’s not quite as cut and dry as being larger in size, though, as it features a different aspect ratio to most tablets.  The 4:3 aspect ratio of the Iconia A1 means that it isn’t actually any better for playing video than a 7″ tablet because all of the gained size is in width (with the tablet orientated vertically).  The extra space does come in useful in other applications, though.
We were impressed with the performance of the Iconia A1 considering the low-end specification as it was able to handle a number of fairly demanding games like Temple Runner 2 without issue.  Unsurprisingly, it does struggle a little in more demanding titles.
From a software point of view, there isn’t really much to talk about as the Iconia A1 runs as close to a vanilla version of Android you’re likely to find on a tablet these days.  The only notable additions are ‘Touch WakeApp’ which lets you bypass the lock screen and launch applications with different screen gestures and ‘Acer Cloud’ which gives you access to free cloud storage for your files provided you sign up to an Acer account.
The main selling point of the Acer Iconia A1-810 is it’s price.  At around £160 from Pixmania for the 16 GB version, we feel it offers excellent value for money as there isn’t much competition at this price point without compromising with 8 GB of capacity or a dated version of Android (or both).  The RRP of the 8 GB version of the tablet is £150, but we couldn’t find it available for sale at the time of writing.  At this price, we would be inclined to opt for the 16 GB anyway as a £10 premium for double the memory capacity is great value.
Pros
  • Great value.
  • Larger screen than competition.
  • Latest version of Android.
  • Decent battery life.
  • Pre-installed apps are very useful.
  • 16 GB of inbuilt memory.
Cons
  • the screen isn’t impressive.
Puppy says: The Iconia A1 is a great option for those people looking for a competitively priced low-end tablet and we’re willing to forgive the less than perfect screen considering the price point!
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