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Acer Iconia One 7 review: A cheap and meek 7-inch slate

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The Good The Acer Iconia One 7 starts at $130 and has a micro-SD card expansion slot.

The Bad The thick design is outdated, its plastic build feels filmsy, and the screen's range of color is underwhelming.

The Bottom Line If you're on tightest of budgets, the Acer Iconia One 7 will meet your needs for very casual use, but don't expect more than that.

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5.7 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 5
  • Performance 6

Review Sections

Simple and forgettable is the story of Acer's Iconia One 7. In fact, it's almost as if Acer took it out of a time capsule from 2012.

Indeed, the unremarkable plastic design, simple specs and subpar screen evoke an earlier era of 7-inch tablets, but Acer somewhat salvages the One 7 with an on-trend budget starting price of $129 (available in the UK for £110; Australian availability has not yet been announced). That why even with its shortcomings, those on a tight budget should take note. If your needs are basic, like checking email and Web browsing, it's a steal.

Acer also offers the budget-friendly Iconia A1-830 , which brandishes a sleeker look and can be found online for around the same price as the Iconia One 7; but if you desire a tablet for activities like gaming and watching HD video, you'll have to pony up $100 more for a slate with better performance and build.

Design

The plastic body of the Acer Iconia One 7 feels flimsy. It has a fragile quality to its build, the same way a wooden pencil or crayon can break in your hand if you hold it the wrong way. The plus side is that it's lightweight, and sitting at 7 inches, it's very compact and portable.

The top edge has a microphone pinhole, Micro-USB port, and headphone jack. The power button, volume rocker, and microSD card slot are on the right edge; speakers are at the bottom of the back.

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The microSD card slot is the Iconia One 7's saving grace. Xiomara Blanco/CNET

Acer offers the Iconia One 7 in a few different colors, depending on your region. My review unit was black, causing the wavy, weaved texture on the back to remind me of smooth, balding tires. It feels comfortable, in your hands, but I didn't like the slippery feel of the finish. Aesthetically, I found the semi-psychedelic weave pattern very pleasing.

Thick bezels frame the screen like a gaudy plastic picture frame and help date the design of the tablet, along with its thick girth. The Iconia One 7 stands in the shadows of the sleeker Acer Iconia A1-830 , which can be found online for about the same price.

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The speakers on the bottom are easily blocked when holding in landscape mode. Xiomara Blanco/CNET

Features

The Acer Iconia One 7 ships with Android 4.2 and is upgradable to Android 4.4. There isn't much modification to the interface and I enjoyed the almost pure Android experience.

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HD video is sharp, but colors look dull. Xiomara Blanco/CNET

The pre-loaded apps on the Iconia One 7 err more on the side of bloatware. Frequent travelers might appreciate the pre-loaded hotel booking app, and Google Play-averse individuals might find what they're looking for in the included app store alternative (an app that sells apps), but I found the bloatware to be extraneous. Also, you cannot uninstall them only disable them, which sounds like a cheesy line in a post-Internet sci-fi movie.

Performance

For a budget tablet, the Iconia One 7 performs just fine. It can do all the basic tasks without a hitch, but doing anything other than simple activities is a test of patience.

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The screen isn't very bright, but it is very reflective. Xiomara Blanco/CNET

Large games take minutes to load and even longer to download. During game play, graphics were sometimes choppy and lag was frequent. Simple mobile games fared better, but graphics suffered from pixelation.

The 1,280x800-pixel resolution screen is average for a budget tablet -- any lower and it wouldn't be worth a second glance. HD video looks fine, but I found images to lack a vibrant pop. The narrow range of colors is evident when watching rich, animated videos, but less so with live-action films and shows.

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Light, but girthy. Xiomara Blanco/CNET

The display has good viewing angles, however the screen is very glare-prone and makes visibility difficult in bright environments, even with the tablet's brightness cranked all the way up.

Conclusion

If you're on a shoestring budget, it's hard to argue against the Acer Iconia One 7's bargain basement starting price. At $129, it's $100 less than the top 7-inch tablets like the Google Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 , and if you just want a slate for basic tasks like checking email, browsing the Web, and rewatching "Breaking Bad," it's a steal. However, anyone who wants to do more on their slate should keep saving for an upgrade. It will be worth the wait and the extra cash.

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