Hands-On With Acer Iconia Tab A700 Tablet With Android 4.0

We get our first look at Acer's interesting A700, the first 10.1-inch tablet with 1920- by 1200-pixel resolution.

Introducing the Acer Iconia Tab A700

Hot on the heels of the pre-CES announcement of the Acer Iconia Tab A200 comes the big unveil of an even hotter offering, the 10.1-inch Acer Iconia Tab A700. The A700 represents a whole new look for Acer when it's compared with the very first Iconia Tab, the A500, and it's the first tablet announced but surely not the last) with a 1920 by 1200 resolution. By comparison, the Asus Transformer Prime only has 1280 by 800 resolution. Like that recent release from Asus, the Iconia Tab A700 runs a quad-core 1.3-GHz Nvidia Tegra 3, on 1GB of memory.

Clean Home Screen

Note here the sharp-looking text and graphics of the home screen widget. Note, too, the lack of overbearing glare. I'm not going to say I found this tablet to be glare-free, but it features a new design with a minimal air gap between the display and the glass, and that helped mitigate the glare tremendously. The display also has an anti-glare coating, and it uses technology similar to that of an IPS display.

Sharp Text

This view of a magazine page gives an idea of how sharp the text and images, viewed in Zinio's app, can look with the 1920 by 1200 resolution. That resolution translates to 224 pixels per inch--not quite a "retina" pixel density (the iPhone 4s screen comes in at 326 pixels per inch), but still quite good.

Solid Build, Slimmer Design

The A700 shown today felt good in hand, but it's a bit heavier than I'd like to hold single-handed while reading. It weighs 1.43 pounds, which is less than the A500, but 0.1 to 0.2 more than models like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the Apple iPad 2. The A700, at least, has a reasonably slim profile; it measures 10.24 by 6.85 by 0.39 inches.

Charge Over Micro-USB

Props to Acer for foregoing a proprietary docking port and instead using a standard micro-USB port for both charging and data transfers.

A700: Ports, Storage, and Connectivity

Gone is the full-size USB port that was a boon to the original Iconia Tab A500. Under this easy-to-remove flap, though, are a microSDHC card slot and SIM card slot (yes, a 3G version of the A700 is on the roadmap, but the company made no mention of 4G today). Outside the flap: a micro-HDMI 1.4 port. The tablet supports 802.11 Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, as well as Wi-Fi Direct. Inside, it comes with 32GB or 64GB of storage.

Android 4.01 On-Board

The A700 demoed today had Android 4.01 on-board, but since it won't ship until the second quarter of this year, it may ship with an even newer version of Android 4.x Ice Cream Sandwich. This screen shows the recently accessed apps view, which, sadly, remains unchanged in Android 4.0 from Android 3.x. This was my first look at Android 4.0 on a tablet, and I was hoping Google had done more to improve upon the OS from 3.x. For example, some tablet vendors have built a small "X" button into those recent app thumbnails, so users can close out of them from this screen. Oh well.

Android 4.0, The Settings Menu

The settings menu looks a bit cleaner than it did before, but it isn't significantly redesigned from what we saw in Android 3.x (aka Honeycomb). Again, this is a missed opportunity for Google, which could have learned from some of the custom tweaks that tablet manufacturers made to the OS to improve upon it.

Apps Menu—Minor Changes

Google did tweak the Apps Menu slightly in Ice Cream Sandwich to make Widgets more accessible via a tab at top. The Widgets and home screen customization menu looks different than it did in Honeycomb, but it works the same as it did before.

Apps Menu

The Apps menu looks a bit cleaner than it did in earlier versions of Android, with cleaned-up language at top.

Curvy Trends

Like other recent tablets, like the Motorola Droid XyBoard tablets, the Acer A700 has a slightly angled curve at its edges.

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