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Acer Iconia A500 Review and Guide

I had been looking for a while at the Acer Iconia 10.1 inch tablet.  I found it on sale at Wally World for $300 so I decided to pick one up.  I am impressed with this tablet.  It has Android 3.1 with quit a few apps that are nice.  One  I think is cool is the video creator.  Any how here are the specs for the tablet.

Display
* Display Type 10.1 in TFT active matrix – LED backlight – Yes
* Display Resolution 1280 x 800

Memory
* Flash Memory 16 GB Integrated
* RAM 1 GB,
DDR2 SDRAM
* Supported Flash Memory Cards microSD,
microSDHC
* Max Supported Capacity 32 GB

Processor
* Processor 1 GHz,
NVIDIA Tegra 250
* Multi-Core Technology Dual-Core

Communications
* Wireless Connectivity 802.11b/g/n,
Bluetooth 2.1 EDR

Digital Camera
* Rear-facing Camera Yes
* Sensor Resolution 5 megapixels
* Focus Adjustment Automatic
* Camera Light Source LED light
* Front-facing Camera 2 Megapixel

Multimedia Functionality
* Audio Stereo microphone , speaker(s) – Stereo

GPS System
* GPS Navigation GPS receiver

Battery
* Installed Qty (Max Supported) 2
* Technology / Form Factor Lithium polymer
* Capacity 3260 mAh
* Run Time (Up To) 10 hour(s)
* Run Time Details Web browsing over Wi-Fi – up to 10 hour(s),
Video playback – up to 8 hour(s)

Expansion / Connectivity
* Expansion Slot(s) 1 x microSDHC
* Interfaces 1 x Audio / video – HDMI – 19 pin micro HDMI Type D,
1 x Hi-Speed USB – 4 pin USB Type A,
1 x Hi-Speed USB – 5 pin Micro-USB Type B,
1 x Audio – Line-out/microphone – Mini-phone 3.5 mm,
1 x Docking / port replicator
* USB Host Yes

Miscellaneous
* Sensors Proximity sensor,
Accelerometer,
Ambient light sensor,
Three-axis gyro sensor,
Digital compass

Operating System / Software

* OS Provided Android 3.1 Honeycomb

The games on this tablet are really nice.  I play Need For Speed, Lets Golf, Dungeon Defenders, and of course Angry Birds.  The graphics and performance is nice.  I heard that they were not so good but I think they are really good for a hand held device.  There are quit a few games but that isn’t really what I would use a tablet for.  It is nice to pass the time though.

I like the flash on the camera and the picture it takes are not bad.  But I don’t think I will use it to take that many pictures however it it is what you have with you it will get the job done even in the dark.  I do like the Movie Studio.  You can do some editing to videos or you can make a slide show from several pictures.  That would give you a reason to take pics with your tablet.

The email apps are a little bit nicer but still just email.  It does have a GPS and navigation but without a data source it really isn’t very good for it.  It is good for watching videos and movies.  One of the updates I got even installed a video app that is used for renting videos from Google Market.  I really wont use it but some people may.  There is also a media server installed to allow you to share your pics, videos, and music.  This is pretty cool as well.  A lot of these features are the same no matter what tablet you have as long as you have the same version of Android.  Plus Google Market is installed in the stock rom.

A few of the things I find annoying  are the notifications that keep popping up at the lower right corner, but you can turn that off.  The tablet is a little heavy but not too far off from most other 10.1 inch tablets at 1.5 lbs.  The battery life isn’t quit as good as I would like but it still will last 6 hours or so.  There is also an app out there that is suppose to increase the battery life, but it costs $.99.  It stops some of the 3G features that are in the Android software.

You can still root the tablet though.  It is really simple, you can download and install Gingerbreak from xda developers.  You can download it from this link. HERE

Here are the instructions:

1. Goto Settings->Applications and enable “Unkown sources”
2. Download the attached APK file
3. Copy the file to your Iconia
4. Install the APK & start the tool
5. Click “root”
Once the tablet is rooted you can install Acer Recovery from Google Market.  This app will install ClockWorkMod for recovery and backups without using nvflash.

You will need a few apps to make this device fully functional.  One is Rockplayer, this tablet has the same problem my G Tablet has.  It does not play ac3 audio format.  This will allow you to play pretty much every movie you have.  You will also need a file browser of some kind, I like ES File Explorer.  You may want to have an app killers such as Advanced Task Killer, this will auto kill apps depending on how you configure it.  This will help keep memory usage down and increase performance.  Another app you may want a battery monitor, I use Battery Booster.  It will turn off the WiFi when the screen blanks, warn you when the battery is low and turn off WiFi/Bluetooth, and has a little widget that can be to control some of the features.  Finally I like having File Expert installed.  This app turns you tablet into a web server so you can download and upload files to a computer on a network by logging into the tablets website.

This tablet truly shows the direction that Android is going.  As long as Acer doesn’t pull an HP and stop supporting the tablet right after it is launched, this device should be supported for a long time.  I have had two updates already in the 3 weeks I have owned it.  Go to a store that sales then and play with one of them for a little while, I am sure you will see some of the potential it has.  Check it out.

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