Budget tablets are known for their modest features and bargain prices, not their au courant designs. The Acer Iconia Tab 8 bucks the trend as a snazzy and slim slate with a starting retail price of $199. Availability outside of North America hasn't been announced, but international prices come out to £127 or about AU$227 converted.
Remarkably, the fashionable 8-inch tablet houses a Micro-HDMI port -- a rare find on a tablet today -- and a sharp 1,920x1,200-pixel-resolution display -- higher than most budget buys. It also has an expandable storage option for loading your media onto it, making it a less cloud-centric option. Unfortunately, its HD connection and a la mode design don't overshadow its moderate performance.
To be fair, mediocre performance plagues most bargain tablets, and the Iconia Tab 8's limitations should be expected. Though it's competitively priced, it's not cheap enough for you to pass on considering other better performing models. If you don't mind spending a little extra, you can find a tablet with a sharper screen, faster performance, and better gaming capabilities. The Dell Venue 8 is a comparable tablet in both price and performance, while the Nexus 7 is a nice upgrade in specs that can currently be found online in the same price range.
The Iconia Tab 8 continues Acer's tradition of chic cheap tablets. The 8-incher dons an aluminum back panel that curves to the white bezels on the front of the tablet. The smooth texture feels nice against my fingertips and its rounded corners are comfortable when sitting in my palms.
|Acer Iconia Tab 8||Dell Venue 8||Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 8.0||Asus MeMo Pad 8|
|Weight||0.79 pound (360g)||0.74 pound (336g)||0.70 pound (317g)||0.72 pound (326g)|
|Width (landscape)||8.5 inches (216mm)||8.5 inches (216mm)||8.3 inches (211mm)||8.3 inches (211mm)|
|Height||5.5 inches (140mm)||5.1 inches (130mm)||4.5 inches (114mm)||4.9 inches (124mm)|
|Depth||0.33 inch (8.5mm)||0.35 inch (8.9mm)||0.31 inch (7.9mm)||0.33 inch (8.5mm)|
|Side bezel width (landscape)||0.8 inch (20mm)||0.8 inch (20mm)||0.5 inch (13mm)||0.7 inch (18mm)|
The rounded edges are also comfortable when grasping it in one hand -- an easy task for small and large hands. Though it's slightly heavier than comparable tablets, it's not tiring to hold for long periods of time. Its design is sleek, but its construction lacks the solid feel premium tablets have.
Standing at its native portrait orientation, the top edge is home to the headphone jack, micro-USB port, and Micro-HDMI port. The HD connection is a rare sight on a tablet, and one of the few features that help the Iconia Tab 8 stand out in the crowd. On the left edge you'll find a flap-less microSD card slot, expandable up to 32GB, and located on the right is the power and volume buttons.
The Acer Iconia Tab 8 runs a mostly pure version of Android 4.2.2 and comes preloaded with some software. Acer adds its own apps, including its cloud service, as well as the WildTangent Games app store and Zinio.
Though a novice might appreciate the long list of preloaded apps, those who prefer more internal storage over bloatware will be disappointed. You can't uninstall these apps and have to settle for disabling them. An upgrade to Lollipop 5.0 has yet to be announced.
The closest thing to a high-end feature on the Iconia Tab 8 is the Touch WakeApp function. The feature allows you to awaken and unlock the tablet by either placing five fingers or two thumbs on the screen. It usually worked well, but if updates were downloading, the response usually lagged.
For a budget tablet, the Iconia Tab 8's 1,920x1,200-pixel-resolution display is a bonus treat. Most make due with a 1,280x800-pixel resolution, so the 8-inch Acer's higher resolution helps it stand out in the crowd.
HD content looks sharp and colors look true to to life. The Dell Venue 8 slightly edges out the Iconia Tab 8 in color range, but the difference isn't noticeable unless doing a careful side-by-side comparison. The screen isn't incredibly bright and it lacks an ambient light sensor for automatic adjustments, but indoor viewing was never a problem. It's not an outstanding display, but it's pretty good for its low-end rank.