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Acer Iconia A510 Review

It seems like every few months there is a new Android tablet coming out with a little bit better specs than the tablet before it. It may seem like that because it’s true, which makes it very difficult for people to decide when to jump into the Android tablet game and at what price. While they may not be one of the big names in Android like Samsung or ASUS, Acer’s Iconia Tab A510 is looking to be your high-end Android tablet at the low-end price. The question is, does it deliver?

The Good:

  • Speed: With every tablet or phone that we have tested that features NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 quad-core chipset, this has been at the top of our list. Acer has crammed that beast of a CPU into this tablet and boy does it fly. We have gone into the Tegra 3 in-depth many times before though so I will keep this brief, but on the A510 it made me comment to Tim while I was reviewing it: “This is how Android should run.” That being said, under heavy use like streaming video or gaming, the Tegra 3 lets you know exactly where it sits by heating up the underside of the tablet, but still runs smoothly.
  • Battery: Every tablet should have a battery as big, or last as long as the A510 does. Acer didn’t pack a 9,800mAh battery in this thing for nothing. When I first unboxed the tablet, it had 65% of a charge. It lasted a full two days (pictured below) with heavy use before I decided that I should plug it back in. The weight of the tablet suffers slightly from this power pack but even then, it still only weighs in at 1.9lbs, only .6lbs more than the Transformer Pad TF300. Seeing this kind of longevity from a quad-core device is surprising and refreshing.

  • Build: Buyers who obsess with the thinnest and lightest devices need not apply to the A510, but Acer has made a tablet that packs a lot of battery and still is easy on the hands. The backside of the device is covered in a soft plastic covered in dots for added grip to guard against unwanted drops. The top and bottom of the tablet have soft curves to them and make sure that you don’t get the dreaded “tablet hand” during use. The only complaint here is the right and left sides of the tablet are fairly cornered off in comparison to everything else. Overall the tablet feels very sturdy and comfortable in-hand. Oh, and you get the Olympic symbol slapped on the back as well. Do you need it? Not necessarily. Does it take anything away from the tablet? Not at all.

  • Specs: For $450 you are getting a tablet packed with specs that can rival anything on the market today. First off we have the aforementioned Tegra 3 quad-core processor, and that is backed up with 1GB of RAM on-board. 32GB of storage is already included and Acer went with a 5MP camera on the back for good measure. There is a microSD card slot on the side and a micro HDMI port as well, great for playing games on your big-screen TV. The A510 has all the specs to do whatever you need it to.
  • Ice Cream Sandwich: What else can we say about Android 4.0 that we already haven’t said before? 4.0.3 comes pre-loaded on this tablet as compared to the other Iconia Tabs who had to wait for an update. The marriage of ICS and Tegra 3 is just something you have to feel to see.
  • Custom Android Skin: I know what you’re thinking, because I felt the same way when I heard that Acer had a skin on top of ICS, but bear with me here; it isn’t terrible. To call it a skin in the first place is a bit of a misnomer, as far as skins like TouchWiz go Acer’s modifications are extremely light and for the most part: useful. The star of the show is Acer’s uninstallable ring that hangs out in ICS’s action bar that when clicked allows you shortcuts to apps and websites that you can choose. Other than that it’s almost stock ICS.

  • Screen: The A510 is rocking a 1280 x 800 TFT LCD screen on the front of the device. While it may not be anything ground breaking on the display front, the display looks good overall. You have to really search for an angle where the color is affected. Colors are bright and vibrant and the display seems to work well with the Tegra 3 being the powerhouse behind it.

The Not-so-Good:

  • Camera: You would have to expect this one, tablet cameras are just generally pretty bad and the A510 is no better. It has the same 5MP camera that was featured on the earlier A200 models and the pictures do the camera no favors. The tablet is capable of shooting 1080p video but video quality seems less than stellar. Let’s just say you won’t be buying the A510 for the camera, but then again who is buying tablets for the camera?

  • Weight: This is a very small gripe, but at this point I am nitpicking to try and find things wrong with this tablet. In the days of “thinner is better” this tablet packs on a little more weight than it’s brethren. It makes holding it for extended periods of time noticeable but as mentioned before, the extra weight is justified in the battery.
  • Proprietary Charger: One thing I noticed was that the charger for this tablet was a special cable, longer than a microUSB. The interesting part is that the tablet works with microUSB to connect to a computer. Why not just use the microUSB as a charger?

Gallery:

The Verdict:

Coming from the grandfather of all Android tablets, the Motorola XOOM, I was skeptical whether or not I would enjoy my time with the Acer Iconia Tab A510. Long story short: I really did. Sure it may not be the flashiest name or brand in the game right now, but if you are looking for an Android tablet that will do what you want it to, and do it for a long time the A510 is definitely something to look to.

Because of their similar specs and pricing, the A510 and the Transformer Pad TF300 are going to be compared. The Tegra 3 is a fantastic piece of hardware that makes both of these tablets really sing. For the specs that the A510 has and the price point of only $450, Acer seems to have hit a sweet spot for performance and affordability. Anyone looking to get their first Android tablet would do well to choose the Acer Iconia A510.

  • nijikon

    I’m still waiting for the A510 to arrive in the UK, I heared it was going to be arriving in April but no sign of it yet. I wonder if it’s being delayed because of the problems and returns I’m reading about in the amazon.com reviews? Asus TF300 might have been an alternative for me but if they’re so flimsy that pressing on the back affects the screen that scares me off. Can’t afford a prime so I guess I’ll just wait for the A510 and hope they’ve taken the extra time to sort out the bugs.

  • Himmat Singh

    I’ve sold off my 9-month Tab 10.1, and I’m most probably going to get this. It’s silly that in Malaysia, Asus is selling the TF300T together with the keyboard. No standalone buy. And after conversion, it costs USD630. This on the other hand converts back to roughly a little over USD450.

    Also love the fact it has a soft back with enhanced grip. One reason I got a casing for my Tab was because the plastic was slippery after prolonged usage. Just wondering, will this thing be less susceptible to damage if it is dropped compared to the iPad for example due to its soft back?

    Regarding heat, does turning off virusscan really make the heat go away? If anything, this is the sole factor that may cause me not to buy this tablet. I am going to use it for extensive gaming, so if heat is an issue, things don’t look too good. How bad is it…? Possible for you to quantify it?

    Thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/JDeBowles_MS Justen

    let me get ready for some down votes, but When did ASUS become one of the big names in android? They’ve never released a phone for real. Though the transformer tablets were pretty good and the docking station was a good (but costly) addition, other tablets had better offerings out of the box like a full sized USB port, better camera, HDMI out, larger battery. All other specs were the same. Seems like tablet vs tablet, without any docking station add-ons, a few manufacturers made better tablets. I suspect bandwagon syndrome happens with ASUS tabs also.

  • OMGLX

    I wonder if someone from XDA can yank out that uninstallable disc/ring so I can install it to try on my Xoom.

  • http://www.tedpavlic.com/ Ted Pavlic

    So… somebody explain to me why it’s worth an extra $50 (or more) to buy this tablet over a TF300T (?).

    • Josh Groff

      Moar Battery life. That’s all I noticed. And if you care, the Olympic logo.

  • droidify

    “only .6 lbs heavier” I thought that comment had sarcasm implied but I guess not. This thing is a sled. I agree that being super thin isn’t that important but weighing 1/3 pound more than a xoom is unacceptable IMO. My prime gets heavy on my wrists after a half hour so I can’t imagine how uncomfortable this sled is. Also, one small quibble with the review. It is .6 lbs heavier than the prime, and .5lbs heavier than the TF300.

    • Josh Groff

      .6 = 3/5

  • http://twitter.com/JohnnyACE562 GRAND MASTER SEN$Ei {{-_-}}™

    Android needs more tablets with USB ports. {{-_-}}

    • http://twitter.com/JDeBowles_MS Justen

      Correct good sir!

  • Greg Holtz

    There seems to be a lot of defective units with this device (according to reviews on Amazon). I had one and returned it due to a non-functional camera and constant freezing. I ended up getting a Toshiba Excite 10 instead, which is right on par with the a510 and the pad 300. So far I love it and i’m glad I sent the a510 back and went with the Excite. The things that give the Excite an advantage over the other two are the Gorilla Glass and the Full Sized SD slot, imho. I hope droid life is able to do a review on the Excite 10 as well. I’m curious to see what they think.

    • RGold

      Same story here. I got the 510 with non-functional back camera returned and now I have the Toshibe Excite 305A. I really like it.

  • Mike

    Will this still be a bettter option when the Transformer Prime t700 comes out?

    • Matthew Merrick

      no.

  • Android1997

    Im loving my Acer A500, My dad even said its better then his OG Transformer

  • http://www.DavidPat.com David Pat

    I can’t see any reason to buy anything but the Asus tablets right now.

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  • Chris Wilkey

    These are $399 if you are lucky enough to have a Microcenter nearby…I was debating between this, the new Toshiba a the same price point, and the OG Transformer at $299… Being that I’m going to be running CM9 and needed to get something as cheaply as possible I went with the Transformer but this is what I would have gotten if I had the extra $100 to spare. I’ve heard if you disable the built in McAfee scanner it cools this thing down immensly as that is the main culprit of the constant heat being generated by it.

    • EricRees

      Yeah, there was a few bloatware apps that were pre-installed that I went in and disabled, the MacAfee being one of them. It still gets hot from time to time but nothing crazy.

  • Jerry Turba

    I have heard reports of the right back side of the tablet getting VERY hot during prolonged use and charging.
    I have also hears that there is a visible “grid” effect on the screen. Like looking through a screen door.
    Have you noticed either of those?

    • EricRees

      The heating spots i have experienced, I could tell you exactly where the CPU is sitting from how hot it gets, but it cools very quickly as well.

      The “grid” effect I have not seen. It’s not the best screen in the world but it’s easy on the eyes!

  • kixofmyg0t

    I just convinced a coworker(who is a i*hone die hard) to get a Asus TF300 for his wife. They both love it and ICS surprised them. $50 more for a huge battery in this thing seems like a good deal.

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  • New_Guy

    I love the fact that they used the word “Tab” instead of “Pad”…I hate seeing Pad on things not made by that other company.

  • Armando

    I have had the A-500 for long time an is an excellent tablet with all necessary ports/SD slots on board and just received the ICS, the only problems is being the wieight but I guess this new A510 is lighter and thinner so that problem is gone! in my opnioin is equal or better than the Asus

  • http://twitter.com/JDeBowles_MS Justen

    This is a damn good upgrade to the A500. Better specs and an amazing battery. The price is pretty high, but people don’t seem to mind the Transformer Prime price point, and this pretty much stands above that (similar specs but A510 has a better battery). I wonder does it have the full-size usb port like the A500 had? if so i’ll sell mine and grab one of these on day 1.

    • EricRees

      No, it doesn’t have a full sized USB port. However, it did come with an adapter from microUSB to full size. They figured that people would still want to use it like on the A500 ;)

  • tech247

    A lot of tablets do not charge through USB as the computer port does not supply enough power.

  • http://www.thinkgeeks4u.com Hiral Patel

    $450 is still not cutting it.

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

    It actually can charge with a standard microUSB charger, but only with the screen off. Even then, it’s very, very slow without an adapter that doesn’t put out at least 2A. I also didn’t find this out until after I had written my review.

    • DaveTea

      What is the output of the supplied charger? With a ‘charge only’ cable you can get a decent charge rate out of some newer PC’s USB ports. I think some of them can do 1.5mA and perhaps 2mA.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

        It’s 1.5A.

        • DaveTea

          Hmm, surprised its not 2A or larger.

          • Jay

            It’s 1.5A at 12V not the standard 5V.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Adam-Hokin/100000334220036 Adam Hokin

    They couldn’t charge through micro-usb because the voltage of micro USB is too little.