An Acer tablet – somehow we have trouble connecting those words in our heads. Intellectually we’re well aware that Acer makes tablet hardware but we tend to think of their notebook range in South Africa. Tablets are things that come from Samsung and Apple.
Still, Acer have taken a decent crack at the tablet market with this 8-inch Android slate, which packs in some interesting hardware to further our confusion about this device. As unexpected as the Iconia Tab 8 (the A1-840 model, if you’re interested) is, it’s also a lot of fun to use and, by the feel of it, pretty durable. But that doesn’t mean we were flinging it around the office. Again.
Not Metal Enough?
The Iconia Tab 8’s construction surprised us, in that we weren’t expecting quite so much metal from an Acer-made tablet. All plastic, along the lines of Samsung’s range, sure but a wide band of aluminium protecting the rear was not what we’d have thought we’d find. But it’s not really enough, we could have done with the whole rear being covered in tougher material – this in-between stuff just isn’t on.
The glass front is backed by the metal band but the upper and lower sections of the tablet’s rear side are covered in plastic, at least on the unit we had that was clearly marked ‘Sample’. It’s plastic that looks almost identical to the silvered back but it remains plastic. Still, the build quality we found here is better than we were expecting and that’s always a plus.
There’s a slot of a microSD car on the upper left side of the tablet, while the power button and volume rocker on the right-hand edge. The rear is slightly raised by the camera lens, which is bordered by its own metal ring. Though the design is plain and mostly conventional, it works.
Display: 8-inch IPS LCD (1,200 x 1,920), 283ppi
Chipset/CPU: Intel Atom Z3745/1.86GHz quad-core (2GB RAM)
Storage: 16GB/32GB, up to 32GB external
Camera: 5MP (2,592 х 1,944)/2MP (front)
Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0
Battery: 4,600mAh Li-Ion
Operating System: Android 4.4.2
SIM Card: None
Dimensions: 215mm x 130 x 8.5
No Qualcomm Allowed
Inside is an Intel chip, an Atom Z3745 quad-core system-on-chip (SoC), which we were not expecting to find running an Android 4.4.2 operating system. It gets the job done more effectively than you’d think from an Acer-made tablet. This isn’t a slight against the company but, like we said, we generally think of Acer as a notebook maker here in SA.
So the performances is a pleasant surprise. Take it for a stroll along gaming avenue and you’ll not that it handles most anything that you can lob in its direction without complaining or lagging. You can take this as an indication of its app performance across the board – if you can run a game, ordering something from Kalahari or checking Twitter isn’t going to bend the processor’s capabilities at all.
Elsewhere, we’ve got a rather standard Android interface to play with. Acer haven’t done anything special with the Iconia Tab 8 so, while the default background is very much in keeping with the company’s design, there are no surprises to be had. There are a couple of Acer-specific apps to be had, though if you’re anything like us you’ll pass over those in favour of the things you know and love. That’s always been the beauty (and frustration) of Android and it’s no different here.
The 5MP/2MP camera setup is adequate. And by ‘adequate’ we mean that you’ve probably got a better option in your smartphone, assuming you’ve got anything over 8MP. Or an HTC One M8. The Iconia Tab 8 will take pictures but it’s up to you to decide whether you want to. Quality isn’t great at all so we’d suggest avoiding that particular function.
But there’s nothing to argue about with the huge, for an 8-inch tab, 4,600mAh batter that ships with this device. It’ll give you six hours or more when in constant use, which is more than we can say for, say, the Galaxy Tab 4 7-inch which bombs after four or five hours of constant streaming, which is what we typically use tablets for. If you’re a more casual user, then the Tab 8 should go for most of the day on a charge.
Whatever you may thing of Acer’s notebooks, the Acer Iconia Tab 8 might just get you to shift your expectations of the company a bit. It’s sturdy, long-lived and easy to use as long as you’re familiar with Android and Acer have used some pretty premium materials here. But it’s not remarkable enough to stand out from the crowd – get it if you’re looking for something tougher than plastic without any other frills.