Acer Iconia A1-830 review: A simple and stylish affordable tablet

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MSRP: $179.99

The Good The $179 Acer Iconia A1-830 is stylishly thin and performs consistently smoothly during casual use. With a smooth aluminum back, it feels solid yet comfortable to hold, and it has a microSD card expansion slot.

The Bad It runs an older version of Android; performance lags if multiple apps are open or if multitasking; the screen resolution is low for today's standards; it no longer offers a micro-HDMI port.

The Bottom Line The Acer Iconia A1-830 is a sleek and simple tablet for basic use, but you need only spend $50 more to upgrade to a slate with faster performance and better features.

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6.3 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 6
  • Performance 6

The Acer Iconia A1-830 tablet is the designer handbag knock-off of tablets. It looks like a high-end purchase, but it simply -- and fashionably -- fulfills basic needs at a reasonable price. The 7.9-inch slate resembles an Apple iPad Mini at first glance, with its sleek white-and-silver design, but upon closer inspection, it's nothing special-- unless you consider a chic and functional $179 tablet exceptionally noteworthy.

Though the A1-830's slick look is a significant improvement over its chunky predecessor, the Acer Iconia A1-810, its performance shows only a slight upgrade, and its specs don't hold a candle to those of its competition, such as the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX or the Google Nexus 7 , which start at the relatively low price of $229.

If you must stick to a sub-$200 price range, a bevy of other budget tablets offer similar options -- unless you're an aesthetic hound. Still, if your needs are basic (no bells and whistles) and you equally appreciate both fashion and function, then the Acer Iconia A1-830 is a stylishly simple bargain buy.


The lightweight Acer Iconia A1-830 has a modernly slim profile with white and silver color scheme. Its smooth finish and rounded corners and edges provide a comfortable melt-in-your-hands experience, though there isn't any grip support to the design. The white plastic front has a tactiliy flimsy feel, but the A1-830's sturdy aluminum back distracts from any signs of cheap construction.


Acer Iconia A1-830 Dell Venue 8 Google Nexus 7 (2013) Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7
Weight in pounds 0.83 0.64 0.66 0.66
Width in inches (landscape) 8 8.3 7.8 7.3
Height in inches 5.4 5.1 4.5 5
Depth in inches 0.32 0.38 0.34 0.35
Side bezel width in inches (landscape) 0.8 0.7 1 0.6

With a 7.9-inch display and 4:3 aspect ratio, it opts for the typical on-screen Android navigation bar instead of physical buttons, and it features an Acer logo in the center of the bottom bezel, with the front-facing camera in the middle of the top bezel. When in landscape orientation, the side bezels easily accommodate thumbs, and when in portrait mode, holding it in one hand isn't a stretch -- even for my small hands.

The top edge of the tablet houses a microphone pinhole, a Micro-USB port, and a headphone jack. On the right edge, the prominently protruding power and volume buttons sit on top, while the microSD card slot -- expandable up to 32GB -- is located a few inches below. The back of the tablet is appropriately simple, with dual-speakers on the bottom half and the rear-facing camera on the top right corner. The Iconia A1-810, the model before the A1-830, offered a Micro-HDMI port, but it appears Acer sacrificed it on the new model to meet its low-price and/or the trendy thin-is-in tablet standard.

The A1-830 is one of the thinnest tablets, but not one of the lightest. CNET/Xiomara Blanco

For a sub-$200 tablet, the Iconia A1-830 sports a surprisingly fetching design, which might have some discerning tablet aficionados comparing the Acer tablet to the Apple iPad Mini. Aside from aesthetics and a 4:3 aspect ratio, the Iconia A1-830 and the Apple tablet are barely comparable. The Dell Venue 8 serves as a better comparison, with matching $179 starting prices and similar mid range specs.


The Acer Iconia A1-830 ships with an almost pure version of Android 4.2.2 and lacks any exciting bells or whistles. However, it does include a healthy variety of preloaded apps. Most included apps will appease the less technologically-inclined -- or the download-lazy (like myself).

In addition to Amazon's suit of apps as well as Evernote, a barcode scanner, and the ASTRO file manager, Acer includes a few software goodies of its own. The Iconia A1-830 slate offers Acer's Life Image app, a user-friendly scrapbook-type of software for collecting and arranging photos; and Acer Cloud, which syncs and backs up data across multiple devices.

The included apps make the device more approachable for first-time Android tablet owners or technologically uninclined users. Many popular or standard apps are included -- which can be helpful or overwhelming, depending on the individual -- but I didn't mind the nearly pure Android experience and the considerable amount of preloaded apps geared toward bookworms.

The Acer Crunch cover complements the cool and sleek look of the A1-830. Xiomara Blanco/CNET

Acer offers a proprietary case for the A1-830 that doesn't cramp your style and works as an equally functional and fashionable cover. It can fold into different positions for comfortable viewing or typing, and it looks similar to Amazon's Origami cases for the Kindle Fire HDX lineup, except Acer adds a pop of color for a fun look.

Unlike high-end cases for slates like the Microsoft Surface 2 , the Acer Iconia A1-830's cover doesn't wake the device or put it to sleep when it opens or closes, and positioning the case properly requires a small learning curve. For an budget slate, the Acer Crunch cover is an affordable way to protect your inexpensive investment without adding too much bulk.

Viewing angles are great, but the screen resolution is so-so. Xiomara Blanco/CNET


The Acer Iconia A1-830 houses a 1.6GHz Intel Atom dual-core Z2560 processor, dual-core PowerVR SGX 544MP2 GPU, 1GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal memory. It also features a G-Sensor, a gyroscope, GPS, and Bluetooth 3.0.


The latest tablet trends include sleek, thin design, and supersharp HD screens, and though the Acer Iconia A1-830 looks the high-end part, its low 1,024x768-pixel resolution screen doesn't hold up its end. HD video is watchable, and the wide 178-degree viewing angles are great in glare-less environments, but in comparison with the ultra HD screens of the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX or Google Nexus 7 , video quality is noticeably pixelated. To its credit, the A1-830 has a decently wide range of color and good contrast -- for a budget tablet.

Acer Iconia A1-830 Dell Venue 8 Google Nexus 7 (2013) Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7
Maximum brightness 362 cd/m2 356 cd/m2 570 cd/m2 430 cd/m2
Maximum black level 0.35 cd/m2 .43 cd/m2 0.44 cd/m2 .37 cd/m2
Maximum contrast ratio 1,034:1 828:1 1,295:1 1,162:1

Unfortunately for bookworms, small text tends to look pixelated. After long periods of reading, my eyes tired quickly -- in comparison to using the Kindle Fire HDX -- and I consistently found myself mulling Audible's free 14-day trial to avoid eyestrain, since the app was so kindly included...but I didn't.

The two speakers on the bottom of the tablet are small and don't play very loudly. The low volume didn't bother me during gaming, but I often found myself wishing they were louder when listening to music or watching video. The volume rocker functionality rotates according to which orientation the tablet is in, and the headphone jack location successfully keeps wires out of your way.

HD video often looked pixelated, especially if streaming. Screenshot: Xiomara Blanco/CNET

As long as too many apps aren't open in the background, performance is swift, and surfing the Web is consistently smooth. Lagging and slow performance is common if attempting to multitask, or if many apps are running. This consequently affects touch screen's accuracy, which frustratingly lags when the A1-830 is running slow, but, otherwise is consistently responsive and accurate.

Simple mobile games run without a hitch. However, large games and apps take their sweet time to load, which is understandable considering the A1-830's specs. After they loaded, performance was smooth, but exiting previously opened apps was crucial to a seamless experience.

Thin bezels make the 4:3 aspect ratio display bearable for movie watching. Xiomara Blanco/CNET

With a steady hand and good lighting, the Acer Iconia A1-830's 5-megapixel rear camera is impressively sharp. Unfortunately, like most budget tablets, the photo quality is grainy when seen at full resolution and colors often appear washed out. The 2-megapixel front-facing camera is a slight disappointment for selfie-fans; it overexposes photos in bright environments, and the face detection feature is critical for decent focus.

Anecdotally, the tablet lasted around seven hours on a full charge with casual use. Check back for battery life results when we're done testing in the CNET labs.

Photos look decently sharp, yet a bit grainy and washed out. CNET/Xiomara Blanco


A budget tablet in a stylish package is a rare sight, and the Acer Iconia A1-830's simple specs, attractive design, and low starting price make it a great Android option for the budget-minded with expensive taste, or for the aesthetically-inclined bargain shopper. However, depending on your needs, the A1-830's basic-at-best performance may overshadow its cool look.

Google's Nexus 7 and Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX offer better performance, but if their $229 starting price is more than you'd like to spend, the $179 Acer is an attractively sleek and affordable package for basic, everyday use. If you're a penny-pincher that doesn't want a tablet that looks like it was picked out of a bargain bin, the Acer Iconia A1-830 fits the unique niche of inexpensive, yet chic, slates.

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