Acer Iconia Tab A700 review: Acer Iconia Tab A700

Performance
The Acer Iconia Tab A700 is the first Android tablet to sport an 1,920x1,200 resolution screen. The Transformer Infinity's screen has the same resolution, but that tablet doesn't go on sale until mid-July. The A700 is available now. While the tablets share the same resolution, there is a disparity in the quality of each screen. The Infinity's screen has a higher brightness (even without IPS+ mode enabled), wider viewing angles, more accurate and vibrant color, and the contrast just feels more dramatic and "poppy."

Also, unlike the A700, the Infinity compensates for the extra bandwidth demands a higher resolution screen puts on a processor by adding a 1.6GHz CPU and DDR3 RAM. The A700 keeps the same 1.3GHz Tegra 3 processor and DDR2 RAM found in the A510, resulting in periodic performance hiccups when swiping through screens or navigating menus. The tablet also froze on me, requiring complete power down and restart. This only happened once, however.

Tested spec Acer Iconia Tab A700 Asus Transformer Pad Infinity iPad (2012) Acer A510
Maximum brightness (Super IPS+) 325 cd/m2 422 cd/m2 (644 cd/m2) 455 cd/m2 322 cd/m2
Default brightness 102 cd/m2 112 cd/m2 160 cd/m2 62.7 cd/m2
Maximum black level (Super IPS+) 0.30 cd/m2 0.34 cd/m2 (0.53 cd/m2) 0.49 cd/m2 0.20 cd/m2
Default Black level 0.10 cd/m2 0.10 cd/m2 0.17 cd/m2 0.04 cd/m2
Default contrast ratio 1,020:1 933:1 941:1 1,568:1
Contrast ratio (max brightness) 1,083:1 1,241:1 (1,215:1) 928:1 1,610:1

The 5-megapixel back camera likely won't inspire you to take pictures with your A700. Not the worst thing in the world especially given the inherent douchebaggery of being seen committing such an act. Josh Miller/CNET

That said, purely from a perspective of sharpness and clarity, the A700's screen matches the TF700 and yes, even rivals the new iPad. Text is noticeably (once you get close enough) sharper than 1,280x800-pixel tablets, especially on the Web and in e-books.

Riptide GP looks sharper at its highest resolution compared to tablets with 1,280x800-pixel screens; however, its frame rate is somewhat disappointing next to the Transformer Infinity, which is smooth even with the game's resolution cranked. Not all games seem to benefit from the extra pixels, however. Games like Max Payne Mobile look identical, from a sharpness perspective, to the game running on a 1,280x800-pixel tablet, even with the resolution set at maximum.

I like the idea of these powerful, quad-core (or more) processors in tablets and feel there's an opportunity here to make some incredible-looking games that take full advantage of the Tegra 3's 12 GPU core architecture. Six months into Tegra 3's life, though, and I'm disappointed by what we've seen. There just isn't enough native game development going on by studios willing to put in the time and effort to do this right. Ports from iOS with extra effects are nice, but they'll never look as good as games built for Tegra 3 from the ground up. Not that I can put much blame at the feet of game studios alone: the money is definitely in iOS right now. Hopefully with cheaper Tegra 3 tablets like the Nexus 7 hitting the market (and assuming people buy them in droves), this will change soon. Tegra 3 needs a few showcase killer apps. I just hope they don't come too late in its life.

One of the two speakers located along the A700's bottom edge. Ironically, employing dual speakers didn't make the sound any less muffled. Josh Miller/CNET

1080p and 720p movies from outside sources ran smoothly on Dice Player, and I noticed no big advantage (other than sharper subtitles) to running these movies on a higher-resolution screen.

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 Tab A700 10

The 1-megapixel front camera and 5-megapixel, non-LED-supported back camera don't perform beyond typical Android tablet cameras. Even with ample light, pics and video taken with the back camera produce grainy backgrounds and foreground assets look murky compared with the same assets shot with the Transformer Infinity's exceptional back camera. With much better cameras available on newer phones and the inherent douchebaggery of taking photos with your tablet, I have to wonder: if you're not going to implement your camera on a tablet at least as well as Asus does, why do it at all?

App download speeds were identical to the Infinity, downloading a 218MB version of Deer Hunter Reloaded in 122 seconds. This score was averaged over three iterations with the closed network router about 5 feet away from the tablets.

Acer placed dual speakers along the A700's bottom edge. Unfortunately, however employing dual speakers does nothing to clear up the muffled sound, especially when held in your hands. Sound improves when laying the tablet down on a flat surface, but even then, it's not as full-sounding as the Transformer Infinity's single speaker.

Conclusion
The Acer Iconia Tab A700 isn't in the same league as the Transformer Infinity. Asus smartly used an upgraded version of the Tegra 3 to compensate for the bandwidth demands of a high-resolution screen. Acer seemed to have simply swapped in a 1,920x1,200 screen into the A510 without much thought as to how that would affect usability. From a pure performance perspective, even the cheaper TF300 and A510 offer faster, smoother performance for less.

That's not to say A700 isn't capable of meeting plenty of tablet needs. The screen looks great and Micro-HDMI and microSD are welcome inclusions; however, there are other tablet choices out there that are worth more for the money. If a high-res Android tablet is on your wishlist, go with Transformer Infinity. If something lower-priced, but still powerful is what you long for, seek out the Transformer TF300.

What you'll pay

Pricing is currently unavailable.

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Where to Buy

Acer Iconia Tab A700

Part Number: A700-10k32u

MSRP: $449.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

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
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