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Acer Iconia A1-810 review: An affordable, forgettable 8-inch tablet

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MSRP: $199.99

The Good The Acer Iconia A1-810 has a low price, runs the latest version of Android 4.2, and includes an expandable storage option and a Micro-HDMI port.

The Bad The tablet is thicker and heavier than other small tablets and uncomfortable to hold in one hand. Its screen could be brighter, and the front-facing camera takes washed-out, blurry photos.

The Bottom Line The Acer Iconia A1-810 goes low on price, but the Google Nexus 7 costs about the same and is still the tablet to get with its sharper screen and more comfortable build.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

6.3 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 6
  • Performance 7

Review Sections

If you were thinking the Acer Iconia A1-810 is an iPad Mini replacement for Android fans, you'd be wrong. Sure, on the surface, the A1-810 aims to replicate the iPad Mini's appeal, but in reality, it barks like a budget Android tablet.

The tablets share the same 7.9-inch screen size, 4:3 aspect ratio, and subpar resolution (by today's standards), but that's kind of where the similarities end. The A1-810 is noticeably thicker than the iPad Mini and aesthetically, while it's not homely, it probably won't be winning any design awards.

And while Android has seen massive improvements to its app ecosystem, it's still no iOS in that department. So a more apt comparison would be Google's Nexus 7. Both tablets run the latest version of Android (4.2.2), but the A1-810 has a Micro-HDMI port and its storage can be expanded using a microSD card.

However, Google's 7-incher sports a more comfortable build and a sharper screen, and since it's made by the people who built the operating system it's running on, it will get updates a lot quicker.

The Iconia A1-810 isn't a bad tablet, just one that fails to stand out in any meaningful way. However, its -- low, as 8-inch tablets go -- street price ($200 for 16GB of storage) makes some of its shortcomings easier to swallow.

For a small tablet, the Iconia A1-810 is chunky, and it feels hollow despite its weight and girth. Taking a cue from the Nexus 7's design rather than the iPad Mini's, the top and bottom bezels are thicker than the left and right ones, adding to its overall robust build. The tablet would look sleeker with thinner bezels, but it is apparent that thin is not in with this model. Although the tablet aspires to be an Android version of the iPad Mini, its design is an unexciting and bloated knockoff. Even if the tablet were half its thickness, it still wouldn't look as high-end as the iPad Mini.

Tested spec Acer Iconia A1-810 Apple iPad Mini Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Google Nexus 7
Weight in pounds 0.9 0.68 0.76 0.74
Width in inches (landscape) 8.2 7.8 8.2 7.8
Height in inches 5.7 5.3 5.3 4.7
Depth in inches 0.44 0.28 0.31 0.4
Side bezel width in inches (landscape) 1 0.8 0.7 0.8

For me, the Iconia A1-810 didn't fit comfortably in one hand. Even if it did, holding it that way could cause some wrist fatigue and wouldn't feel that secure due to the tablet's smooth back, which does little to help you keep your grip. The white plastic back may actually feel toylike or cheap to some, but I like the way the smooth finish feels, despite its inherent slipperiness. I found myself having to resist the urge to rub my face on it like a cool, fresh pillow. Thankfully, it's great at resisting smudges.

OK -- I lied. I rubbed my face on the back, but only to test its smudge-proof design. Josh Miller/CNET

The power button on the top edge and volume rocker on the right edge protrude slightly and are easy to find on the tablet without looking. The microSD card slot and microphone are directly beneath the volume rocker, with a shutdown pinhole and Micro-HDMI port sitting shortly below them. The bottom edge of the tablet is home to the Micro-USB port and headphone jack. The inclusion of a microSD slot and Micro-HDMI port gives the Iconia A1-810 a leg up on the port-challenged iPad Mini and Nexus 7.

The Acer Iconia A1-810 is a bit more, let's say, full-figured than comparable tablets. Josh Miller/CNET

With no ambient light sensor, the screen's brightness has to be adjusted manually. However, thanks to the inclusion of Android 4.2.2, the brightness setting -- accessed via a quick swipe down from the top-right corner of the screen -- is only a few steps away. Due to the screen's relatively dim maximum brightness setting, I ended up running it on full blast the majority of the time anyway, making an automatic brightness adjustment seem less necessary.

Medium-rare Android
The Iconia A1-810 runs an almost pure version of Android but its low build quality fails to take advantage of some of Jelly Bean 4.2.2's fun features. Acer's Touch WakeApp feature is meant to provide easy access to your locked device via different gestures made on the screen. Placing five fingers on top of the display unlocks the device and tapping two thumbs on the locked screen launches the camera or a user-designated app. I'm personally a fan of apps that make the most mundane tasks appear like works of magic, but it was as if I needed to actually cast a spell to get the feature to function correctly. The time it took continually tapping the device to unlock the screen or activate the camera far surpassed the few swipes of a finger that would traditionally cue the same result.

Not to say it didn't work-- the function was successful when I didn't need it. Before I eventually gave up on the app (you can easily disable it in the settings), I unknowingly launched the camera various times while it was in my bag and sometimes while I was simply carrying it around. The Touch WakeApp on the Iconia A1-810 falls flat due to its inability to make already easy tasks even easier.

Hardware features
The tablet houses the Media Tek MT8125 chipset using a 1.2GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 CPU and a PowerVR SGX544 GPU, and 1GB of RAM. It comes with 8GB or 16GB of internal storage and runs the latest Android 4.2.2 OS. It also has 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi support, Bluetooth 4.0, and GPS.

The rear camera was impressive in low-light environments, even without a flash. Josh Miller/CNET

The Iconia A1-810 has a 5-megapixel rear camera with no flash and a 0.3-megapixel front camera. The rear camera's photo quality is impressive for a budget tablet, even though a very steady hand is needed to get an in-focus photo. Color saturation is vividly lifelike and photos in low light came out surprisingly bright and clear, but not without some graininess. At 5 megapixels the photos aren't the sharpest but they look good when viewed on the tablet.

Colors in the photos were a nice balance between bright and saturated. Josh Miller/CNET

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