Look and feel
Acer sticks with its standard tablet design for the Iconia Tab A700. It’s a chunky beast that’s as heavy as the new iPad, but the rubberised corners and rear help to protect it and give it good grip.
Ease of Use
The 10.1-inch touchscreen gives you plenty of space to mess around with apps and navigate through menus, and it’s responsive enough to give you total control when browsing the web or playing games. Android Ice Cream Sandwich has been tweaked with a couple of cool features and a mostly pointless one (Acer Ring).
If you’re serious about taking photos with a tablet, the Iconia Tab A700’s 5MP camera will do the job. It’s not a particularly strong lens, but our photos came out sharp and the front-facing 1MP camera can be used for video chats. 32GB of built-in storage gives you massive amounts of space for movies and apps.
Despite the quad-core processor, we noticed some slowdown and stuttering when using the Iconia Tab A700. Games generally ran fine, but opening and closing apps such as the web browser occasionally resulted in bizarrely long pauses.
The Iconia Tab A700 won’t die on you as fast as most other tablets. You’ll get seven to eight hours of movies or a full day of web browsing on just one charge.
On paper, the Acer Iconia Tab A700 is a gold medal winner. Quad-core processor, Android Ice Cream Sandwich and an ultra-sharp Full HD screen sounds like a great combo, but will that crisp new display make this a must-have media tablet?
The Iconia Tab A700 follows Acer’s usual tablet design, with a typically glossy black-bordered front giving way to a plastic and rubber rim. The corners are coated in rubber, which helps to protect them against bumps, while the ports are spread out across the four edges. In addition to a concealed microSD card slot, you get a Micro USB port for hooking up to your PC and charging, plus a Mini HDMI port (cable sold separately) for sharing your movies and photos with a TV.
If you push on the centre of the back panel, it bends inwards a tiny bit – but aside from that, the A700 is solidly built. The bevelled rear is pleasantly soft to the touch and offers a good grip even when you're holding the device one-handed, plus the A700 won’t go skidding off your desk if you knock it by accident. At 665g it’s as weighty as the Apple iPad, but less cumbersome than the Iconia Tab A510 and Iconia Tab A200. Considering the A700’s chunky build, the weight isn’t much of a surprise. Some will find it a little hefty (in which case we recommend the slimline Toshiba AT300 or a seven-incher like the Nexus 7 by Asus instead), but we had no trouble handling this tablet on the commute.
The main upgrade over previous Acer tablets is that Full HD 1080p display. Movies and photos look marvellously crisp and vibrant, and with 32GB of built-in storage you get plenty of space to carry around your favourite films. Unfortunately the maximum brightness is still a little dim, so you stand no chance with sunlight reflecting off the glossy surface. This is a tablet best used indoors.
Thankfully the touch-screen is typically responsive, which is particularly important when playing games and indulging in our favourite pastime – dossing around on the internet. Websites load quickly and you can skim through them with a dainty flick of your finger. They also update with very little lag when you zoom in and out of the page with a pinch of your fingers.
Android Ice Cream Sandwich is present and correct with just a few little Acer-inspired tweaks. The five desktops give you plenty of space for apps and widgets, and the A700 comes with heaps of both pre-installed. You can rotate the tablet and the screen will switch between landscape and portrait modes automatically thanks to the built-in accelerometer, although the rotation takes a little longer than we’d hoped. The accelerometer can be deactivated using a switch on the side of the A700.
Android’s notifications bar has been bolstered with handy shortcuts to toggle Wi-Fi, GPS and other power-sapping features, to keep your battery from draining too fast. Acer’s infamous Ring makes another appearance, effectively acting as a desktop shortcuts tool for loading your favourite apps or websites, but as you can simply add these shortcuts to your desktop it seems rather redundant. One worthy new addition is the ability to take a screenshot, which is handy if you want to save a funny cat picture you stumbled across online. Far more useful is the ring that appears on the unlock screen, which allows you to launch straight into four customisable apps without unlocking the device first.
Need for speed
Gamers and app fans will be pleased to hear about the quad-core processor, which helps the Iconia Tab A700 to run the latest games and breeze through complex tasks. However, we did still notice the occasional stutter, while opening or closing apps for example. Considering the Nexus 7 by Asus had flawless performance at a fraction of the A700’s price, it’s a real shame.
Still, we’re pleased with the A700’s long battery life. You’ll get a full day of use if you’re simply browsing the web, or around seven to eight hours if you’re watching movies and playing with apps. This is well above average for a 10.1-inch tablet, especially considering the high resolution.
A five-megapixel camera can be used to take random shots on your travels, if you don’t mind wielding a tablet out in the open. The auto-focus generally locks onto subjects in under a second, making it good for action shots. Our daylight photos came out crisp, but the camera struggles in low light without a flash, while interior whites had a pinkish tinge to them. You can shoot video and capture panoramas, as well as share your most recent photo over your favourite social networks.
If you want to keep in touch with friends and family for free, the front-facing one-megapixel camera can be used for Skype chat – providing you have a Wi-Fi connection of course. It’s a surprisingly sharp camera, and we didn’t suffer any kind of lag.
Acer’s Iconia Tab A700 boasts a sharp Full HD 10.1-inch screen, which makes movies look fantastic. It may be a chunky, weighty tablet, and there’s the occasional bout of slowdown despite the powerful quad-core processor, but if you want to play games or check out movies on the go, the Iconia Tab A700 is a worthy option.