Acer Iconia Tab A700 review: Acer Iconia Tab A700

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CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars Good
  • Overall: 6.5
  • Design: 7.0
  • Features: 6.0
  • Performance: 7.0

Average User Rating

3.5 stars 2 user reviews
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The Acer Iconia Tab A700's high-res screen sharpens text and graphics to near-iPad Retina levels. Also, it's comfortable to hold and includes both Micro-HDMI and microSD.

The Bad The base version of the Tegra 3 can't keep up with the high-res display, resulting in frequent hangs and stutters while navigating. The cameras are unimpressive.

The Bottom Line The Acer Iconia Tab A700 overreaches with its high-res screen and is ultimately outclassed by tablets that offer better experiences for the money.

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With the A700, Acer essentially took its Iconia Tab A510, slapped in a 1,920x1,200-pixel resolution screen and gave it a new name. Unfortunately, Acer failed to compensate for the extra bandwidth a high-res screen requires. The result? Stuttery performance that periodically hangs or (in one case) freezes completely.

Acer made a good decision to go with a high-res display. It's sharp and the benefits to text are unmistakable. It's just too bad it seemingly only goes halfway in its efforts to implement it well.

Design
The A700's 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 much like the Nexus 7, it 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.

From a purely aesthetic standpoint, however, the A700 looks dull and sort of boxy compared with more elegantly made tablets like the Transformer Infinity.

The microSD slot (supporting up to 64GB cards) and micro HDMI are welcome inclusions. Josh Miller/CNET

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 64GB-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 front camera sits in the middle of the top bezel with an ambient light sensor to its left. Directly opposite the front camera, on the back, sits a 5-megapixel rear camera.

You may not be able to tell just by looking at it, but the A700 is ever so slightly thicker than the A510. Josh Miller/CNET

Software features
The A700 comes preinstalled with Android 4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich). Check out the Ice Cream Sandwich section of the Iconia Tab A200 review for detailed info on the improvements Android 4.0 makes over Honeycomb (Android 3.0). The A700 is the first tablet to ship with version 4.0.4 and while Google purportedly included improvements to screen rotation speed and smoothed out Web page zooming, I didn't notice any difference compared with other tablets running 4.0.3.

With the A700, 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 that appears 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. Though overall, I feel its usefulness is limited, it can come in handy if you're already in an app and want to quickly switch to another already in the carousel. If Ring holds no interest for you, a quick trip to the settings gives you the option to disable the feature.

The ability to directly access a tablet's file system is never frowned upon. Eric Franklin/CNET

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. Even more useful is Acer Files, which gives you direct access to the tablet's file system through a simple and well-designed interface.

Clear.fi has been split into separate Photo, Video, and Music apps, but all still work to aggregate media on your network and stream media to and from the A700. The A700 also comes with a free Polaris Office app that fairly successfully approximates Microsoft Office, allowing users to create PowerPoint, Word, and Excel docs.

Hardware features
The A700 is Acer's second tablet, after the A510, to house Nvidia's quad-core processor, the Tegra 3. It includes a 1.3GHz version of the processor, compared to the 1.2GHz version found in the Asus Transformer TF300 and the 1.6GHz version found in the Transformer Infinity. For memory, the A700 includes 1GB of DDR2 RAM -- as opposed to the faster DDR3 RAM the Infinity uses. The A700 also 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.

One of the few unique (or now, maybe not so unique, thanks to the Nexus 7) features of the A700 is its grippy back texture. Josh Miller/CNET

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Wireless Connectivity Bluetooth 2.1 EDR
    Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n
  • Type Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • RAM 1 GB - DDR2 SDRAM
  • Weight 23.5 oz
  • Storage 32 GB