Acer Iconia B1 Hands-on: Android Jelly Bean Tablet For Under $150

Looking for a new tablet on the cheap? Acer might have you covered with its new 7-inch Iconia B1-A71, which will start at less than $150. Packing a 1.2-GHz dual-core Mediatek processor and 512MB of RAM, Acer is marketing the Android Jelly Bean-powered B1 toward new tablet owners or those looking to purchase a second tablet for their kids.

Here at CES 2013 we spent some hands-on time with the B1 and had the opportunity to chat with Acer President Jim Wong about its potential. While the B1 will likely be tweaked before it’s released stateside, it’s clear that Acer isn’t shy about undercutting the Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire HD. 

The Iconia B1 has the build quality of a value-priced tablet, with a grooved, glossy, black plastic design that felt a bit on the hollow side. The thick bezel also screams bargain slate, as does the relatively low resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels. However, we like the blue band that wraps around the device, which adds a bit of flair.

You also get a 0.3-megapixel front-facing camera, 8GB of internal storage and a 32GB microSD Card slot. The Nook HD doesn’t have a camera, and neither the Fire HD nor the Nexus 7 have expandable memory.

We’re glad that we didn’t experience lag as we opened and closed multiple applications and swiped through widget options. Acer choose the Mediatek CPU because the company believes it offers the best balance of performance and battery life for such an aggressive price.

It’s not as if Acer has the sub-$150 tablet market all to its lonesome. Here at CES Coby launched the MID7065, a 7-inch Android slate with similar specs. However, that device runs Android Ice Cream Sandwich, while the Iconia B1 has Jelly Bean goodies like Google Now. 

For Acer, a device like the Ionia B1 is tricky. At a time when the company is going upscale with sleek Ultrabooks like the Aspire S7, the B1 seems more like a return to Acer’s race-to-the-bottom netbook roots. Nevertheless, Wong is confident that consumers will be impressed with the B1’s value proposition, especially since it works with AcerCloud for accessing your PC’s files and media remotely. 

Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
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