I’m a bit late in sharing the receipt of my new Android tablet, but I’ve been a bit incapacitated with a bad back for nearly a week, so doing a review on it wasn’t exactly on the top of my “to do” list. Even though I still don’t feel much like writing a whole lot about it, I did bring it to work today so that I could have a little time to show it off today.
I received mine from Geeks.com as a refurb deal for $189.00 + S&H (some change beyond $200 even). I thought it to be a pretty decent grab for a tablet with a 10.1″ screen. I realize most people don’t want something that large unless it’s an iPad, but this isn’t something I’m going to be lugging around everywhere I go. I wanted it for quick Internet access around the house since I lost my office a few months ago and don’t have a dedicated PC to just sit at whenever I want. I do have an Acer Anyway, here’s some of the technical stuff on my tablet:
- Titanium Gray color
- Slate form factor
- Google Android OS 3.2 (Honeycomb) Mine came with 4.0 already installed
- Can be upgraded to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
- 2-Cell Lithium polymer battery
- NVIDIA Tegra 2 (Tegra 250) 1.0 GHz dual-core processor
- 1 GB DDR2 RAM
- 16 GB internal flash memory
- Integrated IEEE 802.11b/g/n Wireless LAN
- Integrated Bluetooth 2.1 wireless technology
- microSD card slot (supports up to 32 GB)
- USB Micro B interface
- Front facing webcam
- G-sensor for orientation sensing
- Built-in dual speakers
- 10.1-inch WXGA TFT LCD multi-touchscreen display
- 16:10 aspect ratio
- 1280 x 800 display resolution
- Supports add-ons from Android App Market
Some of the fanfare that came along with this tablet when it was released earlier in the year, was that it was going to be upgradeable to Android OS 4.0, codenamed Ice Cream Sandwich. Well, mine came with 4.0 already loaded and there was only an update that needed to be applied after initially getting the network configured and bringing it online for the first time.
As you can see from the photo (hopefully), the screen is nice and shiny…I can see myself! The case you see I got from Amazon. It’s a pretty nice leather bound flip case not unlike most any other. I’m too lazy to take the tablet out, so you’ll have to live with my review with it being in that case. Plus, it’s just too hard to take out considering the A200 has a nicely textured rubber backing. At the top is a front-facing 2MP camera supporting up to 1600×1200 resolution. There is no rear-facing camera. I was a little disappointed in this, but then I really thought about it. I won’t be taking any photos or videos with a tablet this size and even though the front-facing camera is only a crappy 2MP, it’s intention is for doing video calling and stuff. For that purpose, I suppose it’s enough and I’ll live with it. I can use my real camera or even my phone for pics and vids.
Here you see the left-hand side ports and buttons. There is a power button, headphone jack, miniUSB port, and a full-size USB port. Unfortunately, this tablet doesn’t support charging by USB, but having a full-size port may provide useful just the same.
The one thing I realized that was missing after posting that photo was the miniSD card and reset button panel. So, I did have to take the tablet out of the case afterall…it covers that door. I had a 16GB card to put in mine from my wife’s broken Samsung Galaxy S 4G – score!
Since I have it out of the case after all, here’s a snap of the textured backside and dual stereo speakers at the bottom. They don’t sound too bad, but if you’re picky about sound, a good set of headphones or ear buds would probably be the way to go.
The right-hand side of the tablet has a single port for the included 12V DC 1.5A charging cable. I didn’t bring it to show off here, but it’s got a bit more bulk to it than I would have liked, but what’s a guy to do? The good thing about it is the battery life of the Acer Iconia A200 is excellent. It has an estimated 8 hours of constant use and I believe it. I’ve watched videos, played some zombie FPS games, and browsed on and off for several hours without coming close to depleting the battery I even connected it to a 4K monitor, I found this article helpful for get the cheapest monitors just for this. I was very surprised considering the 10.1″ screen and overall size. Also, if you look closely, you may be able to see that there is some tablet-specific info imprinted on this same side of the tablet…model and whatnot. Whatever, I know.
The top of the tablet has the volume and lock screen buttons. The volume is self-explanatory and the lock screen pretty much is too, I guess. If you lock it, the screen will hold its orientation instead of auto-rotating as you move the tablet around. I’ve found it useful a couple of times.
Below is the signature Acer “Ring” that gives a cool ring menu to access volume controls, bookmarks, search, photo gallery, and the settings menus. You can add other stuff too, but I haven’t found myself using it all that much. It looks pretty cool though.
I was also able to make use of my Samsung Galaxy S 4G recent root access as I added the Wifi Tethering for rooter users application. Now I can access the Internet from anywhere my phone has a decent enough data connection. The Iconia A200 has no integrated data capabilities of its own outside of wifi and Bluetooth, so I believe this will come in handy while on the road and other places I can’t find a free hotspot.
Now that all that’s out of the way, I guess I should talk about how it performs a little. So far, with my usage, it has been a pleasure to use. Very little lag where I would expect it (graphically intensive games), moving around between screens has been very responsive, and the Internet has been quite snappy – although I do believe the reception could be a little better since I only have a good connection rating when located within a room or two away from my wireless router. It’s still a reliable connection, nonetheless. The stock keyboard doesn’t do much for me either as I’ve become used to the Swype-enabled keyboard on my Samsung phone. That was fixed easily enough after grabbing the free TouchPal Keyboard app from the Play Store. It’s close enough for me.
The included applications and layout of the Android OS are all new to me, for the most part, so I can’t really compare it to much else. You get four desktops with this tablet and it’s been enough for me. Everything is pretty easy to get to..it’s all right at your fingertips! Boo, I know.
I guess the biggest negative for a tablet of this size is just that – the size. While I do love the large screen and wouldn’t want anything smaller, it’s quite heavy. The A200 comes in at a hefty 1.54lbs. For comparison’s sake, the iPad2 comes in at 1.35lbs. After blowing away zombies for a while with this thing, my forearms started to ache a bit. I just have to remind myself that I did not get this tablet for that…I’m just enjoying the “newness” of having one and playing games will soon be something I no longer have interest in doing with it. Hopefully I can continue to convince myself of that. I’m still not what made this thing a refurb unless someone bought it and it did not have Android OS 4.0 on it and returned it. I did not get the original box or documentation with mine, but all the hardware was included and the tablet is in pristine condition. It does not appear to have ever been used. Who knows?
I’m very happy with this being my new tablet, and for the cost, could definitely recommend it to anyone else that shared my intended uses for it. I’m quite certain I will find many more ways to enjoy it and I’ve already found that Netflix’s streaming service was made for this thing. I’m also tempted to spring a few bucks for the Plex Android client so I can test out some of the transcoding the server does for this. There’s also been the announced XBMC for Android client, so that’s on the horizon. I’m sure I’ll play around with some of the webservice apps available for metabrowser and MediaBrowser as well.
Anyway, hopefully this tablet will bring me some more cool stuff to write about. My wife is probably getting an iPad (not sure what kind) next month, so I’ll write a little about it also, once I sneak it away for some quality time…