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The Acer Iconia A1-830 tablet is the designer handbag knock-off of tablets. It looks like a high-end purchase, but it simply -- and fashionably -- fulfills basic needs at a reasonable price. The 7.9-inch slate resembles an Apple iPad Mini at first glance, with its sleek white-and-silver design, but upon closer inspection, it's nothing special-- unless you consider a chic and functional $179 tablet exceptionally noteworthy.
Though the A1-830's slick look is a significant improvement over its chunky predecessor, the Acer Iconia A1-810, its performance shows only a slight upgrade, and its specs don't hold a candle to those of its competition, such as the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX or the Google Nexus 7, which start at the relatively low price of $229.
If you must stick to a sub-$200 price range, a bevy of other budget tablets offer similar options -- unless you're an aesthetic hound. Still, if your needs are basic (no bells and whistles) and you equally appreciate both fashion and function, then the Acer Iconia A1-830 is a stylishly simple bargain buy.
The lightweight Acer Iconia A1-830 has a modernly slim profile with white and silver color scheme. Its smooth finish and rounded corners and edges provide a comfortable melt-in-your-hands experience, though there isn't any grip support to the design. The white plastic front has a tactiliy flimsy feel, but the A1-830's sturdy aluminum back distracts from any signs of cheap construction.
Acer Iconia A1-830
Dell Venue 8
Google Nexus 7 (2013)
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7
Weight in pounds
Width in inches (landscape)
Height in inches
Depth in inches
Side bezel width in inches (landscape)
With a 7.9-inch display and 4:3 aspect ratio, it opts for the typical on-screen Android navigation bar instead of physical buttons, and it features an Acer logo in the center of the bottom bezel, with the front-facing camera in the middle of the top bezel. When in landscape orientation, the side bezels easily accommodate thumbs, and when in portrait mode, holding it in one hand isn't a stretch -- even for my small hands.
The top edge of the tablet houses a microphone pinhole, a Micro-USB port, and a headphone jack. On the right edge, the prominently protruding power and volume buttons sit on top, while the microSD card slot -- expandable up to 32GB -- is located a few inches below. The back of the tablet is appropriately simple, with dual-speakers on the bottom half and the rear-facing camera on the top right corner. The Iconia A1-810, the model before the A1-830, offered a Micro-HDMI port, but it appears Acer sacrificed it on the new model to meet its low-price and/or the trendy thin-is-in tablet standard.
For a sub-$200 tablet, the Iconia A1-830 sports a surprisingly fetching design, which might have some discerning tablet aficionados comparing the Acer tablet to the Apple iPad Mini. Aside from aesthetics and a 4:3 aspect ratio, the Iconia A1-830 and the Apple tablet are barely comparable. The Dell Venue 8 serves as a better comparison, with matching $179 starting prices and similar mid range specs.
The Acer Iconia A1-830 ships with an almost pure version of Android 4.2.2 and lacks any exciting bells or whistles. However, it does include a healthy variety of preloaded apps. Most included apps will appease the less technologically-inclined -- or the download-lazy (like myself).
In addition to Amazon's suit of apps as well as Evernote, a barcode scanner, and the ASTRO file manager, Acer includes a few software goodies of its own. The Iconia A1-830 slate offers Acer's Life Image app, a user-friendly scrapbook-type of software for collecting and arranging photos; and Acer Cloud, which syncs and backs up data across multiple devices.
The included apps make the device more approachable for first-time Android tablet owners or technologically uninclined users. Many popular or standard apps are included -- which can be helpful or overwhelming, depending on the individual -- but I didn't mind the nearly pure Android experience and the considerable amount of preloaded apps geared toward bookworms.
Acer offers a proprietary case for the A1-830 that doesn't cramp your style and works as an equally functional and fashionable cover. It can fold into different positions for comfortable viewing or typing, and it looks similar to Amazon's Origami cases for the Kindle Fire HDX lineup, except Acer adds a pop of color for a fun look.
Unlike high-end cases for slates like the Microsoft Surface 2, the Acer Iconia A1-830's cover doesn't wake the device or put it to sleep when it opens or closes, and positioning the case properly requires a small learning curve. For an budget slate, the Acer Crunch cover is an affordable way to protect your inexpensive investment without adding too much bulk.