A stolid, chunky design makes for a sturdy tablet at least, with the Tab A210 cheerfully resisting scratches, scuffs and our attempts at bending it.
Android Ice Cream Sandwich is always intuitive to use and set up, while Acer’s light custom interface adds a few tweaks that can be handy but are not essential.
The Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core chip powers the Iconia Tab A210, with 1GB of RAM and 16GB of on-board storage for your media and multitasking needs. Unusually, there’s a full-sized USB port to access other hard drive memory, as well as the standard microSD slot.
Multitasking and HD media all ran smoothly, though the mid-resolution 10.1-inch display only supports 262K colours – as a result, many screens look grainy and HD media isn’t displayed to its full glory.
The giant 3260mAh battery easily lasted overnight even with moderate media and internet use.
Quad-core tablets just aren’t what they used to be. Nope, they’re better and they’re cheaper. The sub-£250 Acer Iconia Tab A210 is an Android Ice Cream Sandwich slate that joins our first-ever five star tablet, the Nexus 7, in being roughly the price of a really good dinner date. Though Acer hasn’t exactly lit a rocket under the tablet world’s unmentionables, the A210 is the latest in a series of stolid, capable slates – and this one comes packing the Nvidia Tegra 3 chip.
Sexy it isn’t, with a chunky, rectangular form sporting a substantial weight that means you’ll really want to hold it two-handed. The build is sturdy though – certainly not fragile nor prone to scratches and the tactile back cover feels good in the hand.
Speakers sit on the rear at the base, which actually helps the audio when you lay it down – bouncing off a solid surface helps sound travel better.
The 10.1-inch screen sports a 1280 x 800 resolution and a decent level of brightness that can be adjusted to save battery. However, stack it up to the same resolution in the smaller seven-inch screen of the Nexus 7 and there’s a marked loss in clarity. With only 262,000 colours supported, imagery isn’t as vibrant.
Like the Nexus 7, the Iconia cleverly eschews a rear camera for a 1.9-megapixel front-facer to save on costs. This lens is more than good enough for making video calls, though the colours it produces are very faded and cold. It can also be turned to video capture, which has the same issues.
Charging is via a round proprietary port, while file transfer is done via microUSB. Interestingly, it has a full USB port as well, which you can use to plug in hard drives for extra memory.
Android Ice Cream Sandwich powers proceedings with a light Acer skin that adds a few useful widgets and apps. As with other ICS devices, hard buttons have been dispensed with and all action buttons are on the virtual screen.
The middle of all toolbars sports some Acer customisation – an interesting circular dashboard with four of your most used shortcuts arranged in a circle, along with a few browser windows fanning out. You can also adjust the volume here using a cool little virtual slider that curves around the circle.
There are plenty of preloads as well, including the useful Polaris Office for documents, spreadsheets and note
s, and Files, a folder manager that looks just like what you’d find on a Windows PC. As with Ice Cream Sandwich phones, you can set up Face Unlock to secure the tablet simply by pointing your smiling mug at it.
Under the hood, the Iconia Tab A210 comes with a surprising checklist of horsepower, with a 1.2GHz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, 1GB of RAM and 16GB on-board storage plus a microSD slot for up to 32GB more.
The Nvidia Tegra Zone portal is also preloaded, so you can download games built for this powerful line of processors. We tried out several high-definition games and performance was smooth with the touch-screen beautifully responsive.
A screen from The Dark Knight Rises looked sharp and bright
HD movies looked good though full HD isn’t supported. If you’re watching cinematic ratio films in 16:9, you’ll get the black bars across the top and bottom – though they’re not too obtrusive.
When watching movies or playing games, speakers were a bit tinny and the highest volume isn’t actually that loud. However you can plug in your own pair of headphones for better sound.
Acer may have assumed a quad-core tablet for less is the way to go, in these times of £400-and-up tablets – and even pricier phones. But the Iconia Tab A210 has already been undercut by the Nexus 7 and the incoming Amazon Kindle Fire, so it’s hard to see the niche for a slightly more expensive tablet that’s ostensibly been built for games and movies yet sports such a mediocre display. The A210 is perfectly fine to use but it lacks that extra sparkle of design – or maybe simply a proper screen.