Acer Iconia Tab A200 review: Acer Iconia Tab A200

Settings: With settings you'll notice right off the bat that things are subtly different, with no real huge changes, just a few useful refinements. Options have now been split into four sections: Wireless and networks, Device, Personal, and System. Some features that were crammed in with others in Honeycomb now have their own sections.

The Data usage section details the amount of overall and per-app data you've downloaded over a specific time. Battery now has its own section showing more detailed power usage information than we're used to in Honeycomb and even tracking battery capacity over a set duration.

Now as soon as you create a new Google account it gives you options as to which specific Google services you want synced. The Developer options give access to things like CPU usage data, pointer location, and, my personal favorite, the ability to kill apps as soon as you leave them.

In terms of performance, we didn't notice much difference between ICS and Honeycomb.

The built-in photo-editing tool is probably the most significant new feature. Options include crop, resize, and red-eye correction, as well plenty of color and tint controls. Additionally, recent apps can now be closed with just a quick side swipe, allowing you to more easily find and kill memory hogs.

Overall, ICS feels like a small but significant step up from Honeycomb. You can check out our video of ICS on the Transformer Prime to see it in action.

Hardware features
The A200 houses the usual Android tablet hardware, including Nvidia's dual-core Tegra 2 CPU and 1GB of RAM, and comes in 16GB and 8GB varieties. Also, it has 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi support, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, a gyroscope, and GPS.

The speakers, located on the back in the bottom corners of the right and left sides, deliver high-volume sound even with the tablet placed on a flat surface. Still, don't expect to use the A200 as a dedicated music player. At high volume, the sound is quite shrill at times and doesn't deliver that deep bass you'd want in such a device.

Performance
The A200's 10.1-inch capacitive touch screen sports a fairly high luminance with low black levels, but doesn't have the high-contrast, glossy look of the Transformer Prime's display. As a result, colors just don't pop as well as they do on the Prime and look somewhat bland in comparison.

Tested spec Acer Iconia Tab A200 Acer Iconia Tab A501 Asus Transformer Prime Samsung Galaxy 10.1
Maximum brightness IPS mode (Super IPS) 318 cd/m2 322 cd/m2 358 cd/m2 (570 cd/m2) 336 cd/m2
Default brightness 120 cd/m2 62.7 cd/m2 183 cd/m2 336 cd/m2
Maximum black level, IPS mode (Super IPS) 0.18 cd/m2 0.2 cd/m2 0.27 cd/m2 (0.45 cd/m2) 0.3 cd/m2
Default black level 0.08 cd/m2 0.04 cd/m2 0.15 cd/m2 0.3 cd/m2
Default contrast ratio 1,500:1 1,568:1 1,220:1 1,120:1
Maximum contrast ratio, IPS mode (Super IPS) 1,766:1 1,610:1 1,325:1 1,120:1


The A200's screen gets the job done, but I prefer glossy screens on my tablets, thank you very much.

Web speeds matched most other Android tablets when within 5 feet of our test router. However, when running in Honeycomb, performance dropped dramatically the farther away we got from the router, more so than on other tablets like the Motorola Xyboard, which retains much of its speed even at long distances.

Indoor GPS performance was sound, capturing up to 8 satellites in our tests and increasing in performance the closer we got to a window. When outside, the A200 found up to 11 satellites and saw stronger satellite connections.


I'm including this seemingly random shot of the volume rocker in the Performance section for two reasons. One, it's a well-composed shot that shows off the rocker in great detail. And two, it really makes this feel more exciting and interesting, doesn't it? Cheap? Yes, but also effective.

While the Acer Ring is integrated seamlessly into the OS, its performance lacks the immediacy necessary to make it worth using most of the time. The carousel sometimes takes up to 2 seconds to appear after you tap the ring. This interval may sound small, but the value of this shortcut is diminished when I can launch an app through conventional means in about the same time as it takes using a shortcut.

Thanks to its hardware scalability, I used Riptide GP as a games performance benchmark. Depending on the speed of the CPU, Riptide GP will deliver a noticeable increase or decrease in frame rate. The A200 offered performance typical of a Tegra 2-based tablet by delivering a consistent, playable frame rate that unfortunately can't match the Prime's silky-smooth 60-frames-per-second Tegra 3-induced fluidity.

As I mentioned previously, the A200 has a single, front-facing 2-megapixel camera. Images and video recorded with the camera looked washed-out and lacked detail. The A200 likely won't be your first camera choice when a picture opportunity presents itself.

Playback of 1080p and 720p video from external sources ran smoothly and looked sharp on the A200's 1,280x800-pixel-resolution screen. However, color depth and contrast just aren't as accurate as on the Transformer Prime, and video on the A200 looks drab and washed-out in comparison.

Here are our official CNET Labs-tested battery life results. More tablet testing results can be found here.

Video battery life (in hours)
Acer Iconia A200 7.7

Conclusion
If the A200 were one of the guys in "The Expendables," it would definitely be the Randy Couture character...eh, I can't even remember his name, and chances are you don't even remember him from the movie anyway. The point is, it's dull, boring, with no real "special" features.

Still, at its current price of $330 for 8GB and $350 for 16GB, it's the cheapest way to get ICS on a tablet, and while that's expected to change over the next few months, if you can live without a few missing features like a rear camera and an HDMI option, the A200 could be for you.

Editors' note: This review was updated with CNET Labs battery test results.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Wireless Connectivity IEEE 802.11n
    IEEE 802.11g
    IEEE 802.11b
    Bluetooth 2.1
  • Weight 1.5 lbs
  • Type Android 3.2 Honeycomb
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