The Iconia Tab A200 is a weighty beast, but it looks smart and feels solid
Ice Cream Sandwich is a highly customisable OS, with tons of great widgets. The Acer Ring is a bit pointless though
Acer has trimmed features such as a rear-facing camera to save costs, but you get a strong budget screen and plenty of ports
The dual-core processor ably handles your apps and media
You'll get six hours of general use from a single charge, about what we'd expect from a modern tablet this size
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,5/30/2012 2:37:31 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Dual-core performance, great screen for the price, Ice Cream Sandwich OS, under £300
Screen could be brighter, hefty body
Acer's Iconia Tab A200 isn't trying to compete with the new iPad, or any other flashy tablet out there. Instead, it targets the family that does things together, whether it's kicking back with a movie, surfing the web or messing around with apps. By eliminating some of the more frivolous features, Acer has crafted a great value tablet - for just £299 you get a device that entertains the whole family.
The Iconia Tab A200 has a serious heft to it, weighing in at a mighty 720g - that's around 150g heavier than the likes of the new iPad and the Asus Transformer Prime - only the chunky Asus Eee Pad Slider is more cumbersome. It'll ache your biceps if you grasp it one-handed, and we couldn't imagine kids handling it for more than a few minutes before complaining, but mum or dad can comfortably clutch it while the family enjoys a show.
If you'd prefer a more dinky tablet, there's always the seven-inch Acer Iconia Tab A100 instead.
From the front, the Iconia Tab A200 looks like any other 10.1-inch tablet. The screen is surrounded by a narrow black bezel, which gives you just enough space to comfortably grip it without bulking out the body too much. It's a reasonably slender tablet at just under 13mm, and the mottled rear has a soft, pleasing touch.
That textured back, combined with the hefty weight, means the Iconia Tab A200 won't go spinning off your desk if you (or your offspring) happen to bump it. A smart burgundy finish adds a much-needed splash of colour.
Android Ice Cream Sandwich comes pre-installed and gives you five desktops to populate with all the widget goodness you desire. You get To Do lists, real-time inbox updates, the SocialJogger widget that streams your Twitter and Facebook feeds, and plenty more to keep you connected. If you're more of an app fan, you can log onto Google Play – the new version of the Android Market – which has a massive and ever-expanding selection.
The unfortunately-titled Acer Ring makes another appearance here. For strangers to Acer's tablets, this is a virtual wheel that provides quick access to four apps of your choosing, as well as volume controls and recently viewed websites. It's a nice idea but we found we rarely used it, as you can quickly access apps and favourite websites via desktop shortcuts, and the Iconia Tab A200 has physical volume controls on the top edge. We'd have preferred something like a bookmarking facility for your movies, ebooks and podcasts.
Here's Acer's Ring in all its glory
A dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, backed up by 1GB RAM, keeps everything ticking over nicely. Even when we abused the Iconia Tab A200 by opening tons of apps, we saw no hint of slowdown. In fact, the only issue we had was with the screensaver, which kept playing every 15 seconds even when we changed it in the settings. This little quirk stopped after a few hours of use, which was just as well, as the sickly sweet family campfire scene had us feeling distinctly queasy.
We managed just over six hours of battery life from a single charge, while watching video, playing with apps and browsing the web. That's about what we'd expect from a dual-core tablet this size.
Movies are a great way to show off the Iconia Tab A200's 10.1-inch screen, which produces pleasingly sharp, lifelike images. It may lack the superb clarity of Apple's new iPad's Retina display, and could do with being a little brighter, but pause an HD movie on a close-up of someone's face and you can enjoy every wrinkle, pore and zit in intimate detail. At this price that's all you can ask for. Viewing angles are also excellent, a relief if two kids are battling to watch at the same time.
Transferring your media onto the Iconia Tab A200 is a doddle. Simply connect to your PC via a Micro USB cable, and you can drag and drop your files ready to play. Sadly the Iconia Tab A200 doesn't charge via USB – you'll need to plug it in via the mains to power it up.
You get 8GB of storage according to Acer, although the tablet only reported 5GB was usable. You can expand this via the very well-concealed microSD memory card slot (we broke a nail trying to prise off the covering, owwww!) and the Tab also has a full-sized USB port, so you can plug in memory sticks.
One feature you won't find is 3G, and for a good reason. Acer has eliminated what it considers excessive bolt-ons, including data roaming – and considering the high cost of data contracts, it's a wise decision. A rear-facing camera has also been omitted, although you still get a front-facing lens for video chats. By removing these features, the price of the Iconia Tab A200 has been kept right down.
If you're after a well-priced tablet for the whole family to enjoy, the Acer Iconia Tab A200 is a worthy choice. It may be hefty and cut out some standard features, but the compromise is well worth it and the end result is a great app/movie/web machine. Acer is also doing a deal with Carphone Warehouse for the Iconia Tab A200 – more news to follow...