Selasa, 19 April 2011

Acer’s New Wi-Fi Android Tablet Unveiled (Iconia Tab A500)

The Acer Iconia Tab A500 is one of the first Android Honeycomb tablets we've seen to compete against the Xoom, and ultimately, the Apple iPad 2. Its promise, essentially, is all of the features of the Wi-Fi Motorola Xoom, priced nearly $150 less at $450.
Is there a catch? In the few hours we've had to play with the Iconia Tab, there's nothing obvious that jumps out as a "gotcha." It's a little heavier than the already-heavy Xoom, weighing 1.66 lbs.
The design feels a little more plastic around the edges where the tablet meets your hand. The photo and video quality don't seem to match up to that of the Xoom (and we weren't big fans of the Xoom's image quality to begin with). Acer's instinct to populate the home screen with its own app choices and bury Google's prime products in the app drawer seems like a needless makeover, but it's a move that's easily undone.
With the debut of the Iconia Tab A500, Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Acer is the latest to throw its hat into the tablet ring.
As of Friday morning, the 10.1-inch, Android 3.0-powered A500 is up for pre-order on Best Buy’s website for $450. It will be ready for purchase in Best Buy retail stores beginning April 24.
The price is less than the cheapest iPad 2, which costs $500 for a Wi-Fi only, 16-GB model. The Iconia A500 also has 16 GB of storage.
Most comparable tablets have had difficulty matching the iPad’s price. For instance, Motorola’s Xoom (the only other Honeycomb tablet currently available) costs $600, although that gets you a full 32 GB of internal storage, among other things.
Acer’s tablet will run Android version 3.0 (Honeycomb) on its NVidia Tegra 250 1-GHz dual-core processor, supported by a gig of RAM.
The Iconia A500 will be available in a Wi-Fi version first, and a 4G version will eventually make its way to AT&T’s network.
The A500’s 10.1-inch display boasts a 1280×800 resolution ratio (equal to that of the Xoom, and better than the iPad 2). You can watch HD 720p video on the screen, or use the HDMI output to view stored media on external screens. A 5-megapixel rear-facing camera comes for shooting photos and video, while the 2-megapixel front-facing camera allows for video chat.
Like the other Android tablets to debut in 2011, the A500 will trail Google’s flagship Honeycomb device, Motorola’s Xoom, to market. Samsung’s currently available version of its seven-inch Galaxy Tab runs Android version 2.2 — not until the 10.1-inch version will we see Honeycomb on a Samsung device (although delays have pushed back the larger version’s release).
The A500 will support Flash eventually, but won’t ship with it. Motorola’s Xoom, which debuted six weeks ago, also launched without Flash, though a beta release is currently available for Honeycomb in the Android Market.
With the BlackBerry Playbook set to debut on April 19 and a number of offerings to follow, Acer’s will be entering the tablet market just as it heats up with some serious competition.

The big question is whether the Honeycomb experience itself is any different on the Acer Iconia Tab than on the pricier Motorola Xoom. From our perspective, the differences are too minor to notice. The touch screen is seemingly just as responsive, and sports the same 10.1-inch screen and 1,280x800-pixel resolution of the Xoom. All of Google's core apps, including Marketplace, are installed out of the box. You do have to take an extra step to download a free version of Adobe Flash 10.2, but it takes only a minute and a shortcut link for the download is included within the app menu.
Other specs include an Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core processor, 1,024MB of DDR3 dual-channel memory, 16GB of built-in storage (4GB of which is taken up by the OS), HDMI output, microSD memory expansion, and a full-size USB host port.
The only obvious drawback to the Acer Iconia Tab A500 is that it's no lighter or slimmer than the Xoom. With the razor-thin iPad 2 out there shaping people's tablet expectations, the Iconia Tab is beefy by comparison (see our photo gallery for comparison shots). Still, we're happy to see some competition for the Xoom and we're elated that the price of Honeycomb tablets is racing toward affordability.

So the hardware is right, and the gaming capability is right, and so is the price. But does the Iconia really have a chance of competing against Apple's iPad juggernaut? As we noted this week, noted Deutsche Bank analyst Chris Whitmore recently changed his prediction for overall 2011 tablets sales to 45 million units – up from an original estimate of 40 million. Of that 45 million, Whitmore says, 35 million units will be Apple iPads.
"[W]e remain skeptical whether the likes of HP, Dell, Motorola, Samsung, and RIM etc can close the competitive gap on iPad 2," he said. Meanwhile, a new survey from investment firm Piper Jaffray shows Apple remains one of the most coveted brands on the market. According to Piper Jaffray, 22 percent of the polled students had a tablet computer in their house; another 20 percent expected to soon buy one. And that tablet will probably be an iPad 2.
The Iconia may be pretty cool, but it's going to need a lot of buzz to zip past the reigning king of the tablet market.


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