Want an 8-inch tablet for a cheap price? The Acer Iconia A1 starts at just $169 for the 8GB version and offers a 1.2-GHz quad-core processor. You also get a unique Touch WakeApp gesture that let you launch right into your favorite apps and a microSD Card slot, which the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD lack.
We took the A1 for a spin at Acer’s launch event in New York. Can this slate really hang with the $199 competition?
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Weighing .9 pounds and measuring .44 inches thick, the Iconia A1 is made of plastic, and it definitely feels low end. The white back resists fingerprints but is on the chintzy side. The IPS display is a mixed bag, offering wide viewing angles but a relatively low 1024 x 768-pixel resolution.
Under the hood is a quad-core 1.2-GHz MediaTek processor that proved fairly swift during our brief hands-on time. Flipping through home screens and opening apps was fairly smooth. The 5-MP camera on the back captured bright but somewhat fuzzy images. Acer says to expect up to 7 hours of battery life.
The most unique feature of the Iconia A1 is the Touch WakeApp gesturing. Using either five fingers on the screen at once or two thumbs, you can have the tablet wake to an app of your choice. We pressed and held with five fingers to open the calendar app and used our thumbs to unlock the camera.
However, we noticed lag in unlocking to apps, and the A1 had to switch from the previously opened app to our desired choice, too, which took additional time. Unless Acer is able to speed up these shortcuts, we’d much prefer using a slate that uses swipe shortcuts on the lock screen. (See the upcoming Galaxy Note 3.)
On the plus side, the A1 offers both a microHDMI port and a micoSD Card slot, which means you can expand the 8GB or 16GB of internal memory with an additional 32GB of storage. The 8GB model will start at $169, while the $199 version will sell for $199 when the A1 goes on sale in June.
Overall, the Iconia A1 has an aggressive price and a bigger screen than the 7-inch competition, but the build quality gives us pause.