With today's introduction of the Acer Iconia Tab A100, the 7-inch Honeycomb tablet era begins. Vivek and Jarred looked at the new entrant's big brother, the 10.1" A500, and were left . . . well, a little underwhelmed. Some of their complaints are endemic of everything Honeycomb, so far: occasionally sluggish performance, potentially awkward form factor, bugginess. Some of their complaints, though, were fixed on Acer’s 10.1” tablet itself: questionable build quality, uncompetitive pricing, less than stellar viewing angles. So what does Acer’s diminutive tablet offer up?

If you put the spec sheets for the A500 and the A100 next to each other, it might take you a few minutes to see the difference. In truth, the A100 shares the same SoC, memory, and connectivity with the larger tablet (Tegra 2, 1GB RAM, 802.11 b/g/n). The A100 will also launch with Android 3.2; the A500 recently received the 3.1 update, but 3.2 isn't here quite yet (though it's coming). Where the two models differ is in screen size, ports, and software. The 7” capacitive display is driven by a 1024x600 TFT LCD panel, not inspiring on paper, but if it’s related to the shipping panel in the A500 it can still impress with its visuals, even if the viewing angles aren’t spectacular. The full size USB port of the A500 is omitted, and the HDMI port takes on a mini configuration. By the pictures, the A100’s design looks similar to the A500, but with a decorative rear panel that will be available in multiple colors in the future.

Battery life is quoted at 4.5 hours of video playback, about half of what we saw in the A500, which isn’t surprising given it carries a half-sized battery. Pricing, which has gotten more and more competitive for the A500 is coming in a little higher than expected. Originally rumored to be the first sub-$300 Honeycomb tablet, the 8GB A100 will come in at $329, while a 16GB SKU will retail for $349. (Hooray for 8GB upgrades no longer costing an extra $50+, though!)

Like Samsung, Acer has prepared some tablet optimized software to extend Honeycomb's utility a little further. Social Jogger is their riff on a social media aggregator; it’s currently configured for Facebook and Twitter, hopefully with more services to be added soon. LumiRead is Acer’s e-reader software, complete with book store, and there's also Day Planner. Much of the PR for this device focuses on its utility for families and “modern moms,” in particular. Day Planner is a potentially valuable scheduling app that does more than display your calendar and agenda; it also integrates your e-mail, news, weather, contacts, note taking and, even, mapping services. The use case for this kind of software could be huge, and we will be interested in how good the software turns out.

We’ll update more when we have a sample in-house. Until then peep the gallery and judge the tweaked Iconia design for yourself.

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  • melgross - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    There seems to be a problem with this Rez screen and Honeycomb. Google has stated that a higher Rez is required for a device to be called a tablet. 1280x800? I don't remember for certain.

    But another site had done a hands on with this "tablet", and found that the Kindle app, and one other, worked, but weren't usable. Apparently, the apps use a fixed Rez, and the screen controls, which are at the edges of the screen, weren't visible, making the apps unusable.

    If this holds true for a fair number of apps, this screen Rez is doomed. I'm hoping to see some reviews soon, because if this is true, then the question of how a manufacturer could be so stupid is one that will have to be asked.
  • JasonInofuentes - Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - link

    So, Google has been fighting this fight for a while. I'm no programmer but I get what they're trying to get across. The easy way to design an app is to make it for one device and program it to that devices specifications (iPhone 2G/3G/3GS, for example). But when new devices are added with differing specs there needs to be a framework to blow it up. Apple did this before launch for the iPad and iPhone 4. Google is doing this with the 3.2 update. But that's an end around solution. What GOOG really wants developers to do is build their apps with no specific resolution in mind. Instead they want targeted densities. They have the framework intact, but it's still a hassle for developers, especially knowing that Ice Cream Sandwich will change that framework again. If Google rolls out ICS and the next generation of tablets follow suit shortly there after then we might see the rush of app development that the market needs for this to be successful.
    So, is this Rez doomed? No, but until app developers start to use the tools available to them we'll all pay the price.

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