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Christmas Gift Guide

A is for Acer. A is for Android. And A is for the Acer Iconia Tab A500, a 10-inch Android tablet challenging the Apple iPad with its dual-core processor and lengthy list of features. Click through our pictures above to see the A500 in loving soft-focus.

Unlike its 10-inch rival the iPad, the A500 plays Flash video and animation for a complete Web-browsing experience. Inside the brushed aluminium casing there's a dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor and Nvidia GeForce graphics chip. The 1,024x600-pixel, 16:9 screen looks clear and bright playing video, with rich colours and no sign of lag, and audio should sound great thanks to Dolby Mobile software.

There are a number of options for connecting the A500 to the wider world. An HDMI socket connects the tablet to your TV so it can output high-definition video, and there's Wi-Fi, 3G and Bluetooth 2.1 as well. It also sports both a mini-USB and full-sized USB port, and not one but two cameras: a front-facing 2-megapixel webcam for video chat and giggles, and a rear-facing 5-megapixel camera with auto-focus for taking proper pictures.

The A100 will run Google's Android 3.0 Honeycomb software when it launches, but unfortunately the version we saw was stuck with the current Gingerbread version. Honeycomb is specifically designed for tablets, making the most of the extra space on screen with apps that have a clearer apps, and fancy 3D effects.

It's also designed for devices without the usual four home buttons, of which the A500 has none -- leading to the comical spectacle of two highly trained expert technology journalists proving unable to figure out how to get the thing to work, thanks to Gingerbread's reliance on buttons.

If 10 inches is too much for you, Acer makes a very similar tablet in smaller, 7-inch form -- the A100. It won't slide into a pair of skinny jeans, but it can be stowed in a jacket or handbag. We tried it out for five minutes and broke it straight away, so we sidled away whistling.

A is for April, too -- the A500 and A100 will be available in April this year. Prices are yet to be confirmed.

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