The first quad-core tablet, the Asus Transformer Prime, launched in December 2011, but the adoption rate of quad-core on tablets since then has been disappointingly slow. The new Acer Iconia Tab A510 marks only the third tablet to use a full quad-core CPU and is actually the first made by a company other than Asus.
But with the Transformer Pad TF300 currently priced $50 cheaper than the Acer, is there any reason to even consider the A510?
The Acer Iconia Tab A510 looks and feels a lot like the A200 before it. The left and right edges are adorned with silver plating; the back feels like a mixture of rubber and leather (in a good way), making the tablet easy to grip; the corners are well-rounded, and the tablet just feels comfortable to hold. In fact it's one of the most comfortable tablets I've ever had the pleasure of holding, with the leathery back (available in either silver or black) reducing the likelihood it'll accidentally slip from my hands. The A510 is thicker and slightly heavier than the Asus Transformer Pad TF300, and feels stronger and sturdier. However, from a purely aesthetic standpoint, the A510 looks dull and sort of boxy, compared with more stylish tablets.
|Acer Iconia Tab A510||Asus Transformer Pad TF300||Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF201||Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1|
|Weight in pounds||1.48||1.4||1.32||1.24|
|Width in inches (landscape)||10.3||10.4||10.4||10.1|
|Height in inches||6.9||7.1||7.1||6.9|
|Depth in inches||0.40||0.38||0.32||0.34|
|Side bezel width in inches (landscape)||0.8||0.8||0.8||0.8|
On the left edge sits the power/lock button and a headphone jack. On the opposite edge is a Micro-HDMI port and a door covering a 32GB-capacity microSD slot. In the middle of the bottom edge is a Micro-USB port next to a reset pinhole, with speakers on the far right and left sides. On the top edge, from left to right, lies a volume rocker, a rotation lock switch, and a microphone pinhole. A 1-megapixel camera sits in the middle of the top bezel with an ambient light sensor to its left. Directly on the back sits a 5-megapixel rear camera.
The A510 comes preinstalled with Android 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich). Check out the Ice Cream Sandwich section of the Iconia Tab A200 review for detailed info on the improvements Ice Cream Sandwich makes over Honeycomb.
With the A510, Acer includes a number of custom software features that those familiar with previous Acer tablets should recognize. Chief among them is Acer Ring. Ring is an app shortcut and carousel-like bookmark hub that appears after you tap the green ring symbol at the bottom of the screen. Each bookmark or app is completely customizable, allowing you to include up to four apps and seemingly as many bookmarks as you like.
While this would seem useful, accessing apps the normal way is already so quick and easy that adding an extra step like tapping the ring puts you that much farther from your goal. To be fair, we're talking about mere seconds here, but it does affect the overall experience. Acer Ring's interface is a bit faster than it was on the A200, but I feel its usefulness is limited. Thankfully, a quick trip to the settings gives you the option to disable the feature.
Acer Print is a built-in setting that allows you to add printers either through your network or by bar code scan, and then print directly from the tablet.
The A510 is Acer's first tablet to house Nvidia's quad-core processor, the Tegra 3. It includes a 1.3GHz version of the processor, compared with the 1.2GHz version found in the TF300. The tablet also includes 1GB of DDR2 RAM -- as opposed to the faster DDR3 RAM also used in the TF300. It has 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi support, Bluetooth 2.1, a gyroscope, an accelerometer, and GPS. Only one 32GB-capacity configuration is currently available.
Acer includes two accessory cables to help fill out the A510 feature set: a Micro-USB-to-USB cable and a Micro-USB-to-female-USB dongle. The latter takes the place of an actual full USB port, which I guess is better than no port at all, but the idea of carrying around a extra dongle with your tablet just seems kind of silly.
Most newer tablets use IPS panels to power their screens. IPS panels tend to have wider viewing angles and better color performance than normal LCD screens. With the A510 Acer went with a normal LCD screen and as such, puts the A510 at a performance disadvantage. While the TF300 retains much of its color when viewed from off angles, the A510's screen immediately begins to wash color out when your perspective shifts. Even when viewed straight-on the A510's LCD screen's color accuracy and saturation can't match the TF300's.
|Tested spec||Acer Iconia Tab A510||Asus Transformer Pad TF300||Asus Transformer Prime TF201||Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1|
|Maximum brightness (Super IPS)||353 cd/m2||331 cd/m2||358 cd/m2 (570 cd/m2)||336 cd/m2|
|Default brightness||118 cd/m2||135 cd/m2||183 cd/m2||336 cd/m2|
|Maximum black level (Super IPS)||0.22 cd/m2||0.22 cd/m2||0.27 cd/m2 (0.45 cd/m2)||0.30 cd/m2|
|Default black level||0.08 cd/m2||0.09 cd/m2||0.15 cd/m2||0.30 cd/m2|
|Default contrast ratio||1,475:1||1,504:1||1,220:1||1,120:1|
|Maximum contrast ratio (Super IPS)||1,604:1||1,500:1||1,325:1 (1,266:1)||1,120:1|
The A510's capacitive touch screen is responsive, but isn't as sensitive to the touch as the TF300's. Even delicate touches on the TF300 yield responses, but the A510 requires a bit more deliberate interaction. Apps load quickly -- about a hair faster than the TF300 -- and we still get that great, smooth Tegra 3-induced, 60 frames per second screen transition effect when closing apps or swiping through apps and widgets.