With the Iconia A110, Acer has managed to put together a fairly solid tablet offering. The only problem is that the competition has as well. As seems to be the case with most recent Acer products, the A110 is a battle of pros versus cons. Unfortunately, despite a number of convenient touches, the balance of power may be tilted toward the latter for this particular seven-inch Android tablet.
While the design isn’t particularly offensive, it’s bit bland and uninspired. It measures in at 7.6 by 5.0 by 0.4 inches and weighs 13.44 ounces, but the boxy form makes it seem unnecessarily large and clunky as compared to the smoothly rounded edges that appear on the competition. The cheap-feeling plastic doesn’t do the device any favors either, and the whole package just feels like a budget solution despite the price tag.
Along with a standard 3.5-millimeter headphone jack, the top of the Acer Iconia A110 features a much-ballyhooed microSD slot which allows for a range of expanded storage options. A micro-HDMI and micro-USB port adorn the left edge of the device. The bottom is left vacant, and the right edge features a power button and volume rocker. There is no rear-facing camera, though a 2.0-megapixel front-facing camera is included. The layout of the various ports and buttons is well-done, though the uncovered microSD slot does create the appearance of a gaping hole at the top of the device.
Resolving the Details
Though the exterior appearance and overall feel of the Iconia A110 tablet is a bit disappointing, the biggest letdown is the display panel. The 1,024-by-600-pixel resolution isn’t terrible, although the resulting density of 170 pixels per inch can certainly make for some issues when dealing with small text or other fine details. It falls short of the competition to be sure, but it’s at least tolerable. Instead, the most significant issue with the TFT LCD display is poor contrast and viewing angels.
Under the Hood
Despite the frankly dreadful display, as the saying goes, sometimes it’s what’s on the inside that counts. In this case, the A110 features a 1.2-gigahertz quad-core Tegra 3 processor from Nvidia and a gigabyte of RAM. The specs aren’t quite up to par with competitors such as the Nexus 7, but the lack of pixels on the Acer’s display allows for similar performance overall. Another plus for the Iconia is the shiny new Android 4.1 “Jelly Bean” operating system, which thankfully comes with no sign of the pre-installed junk that populates many other tablets. Even with the lesser specs and display, however, battery life is poor.
The Tablet Roundup
Given the form factor and price range, the Iconia A110’s natural competitors are the Google Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD. In terms of real-world performance, all three tablets are fairly comparable. They begin to separate themselves when it comes to the display. While the Iconia’s display is barely acceptable, both the Nexus 7 and Fire HD offer vibrant, sharp, vastly superior panels. Battery life is also markedly better on both devices. Where the A110 gains ground is in its range of microSD storage options and its HDMI-out ability. For those who don’t need such versatility, there aren’t many reasons to recommend the Acer.
The poor display of the Acer Iconia A110 is a frequent complaint. The faded color and contrast make watching movies and playing games a less satisfying experience, and the lacking resolution makes reading text and manipulating small objects a chore. The performance has generally received positive reviews, and the clean-slate installation of Android’s Jelly Bean is a popular selling point. It’s a fine tablet for an entry-level user, but consumers may find that the negatives outweigh the positives.