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Acer's Latest Iconia Tablet May Run Out of Gas

Acer's Latest Iconia Tablet May Run Out of Gas

Acer's latest editions in its Iconia tablet computer line are two A100 tablets -- one with 8 GB of storage, one with 16. They run on Android Honeycomb and ring up for more than $100 less than a new iPad 2. However, the seven-inch tablets' batteries only run for about five hours, falling far short of many of their tablet rivals.

By Richard Adhikari TechNewsWorld ECT News Network
08/12/11 12:07 PM PT

Acer on Friday announced the first seven-inch tablets in its Iconia line -- the Iconia Tab A100 series.

These devices run Android 3.2, a.k.a. "Honeycomb," and are available now in North America.

There are two models in the Iconia Tab A100 family, with 8 GB and 16 GB of memory. They are priced at US$330 and $350, respectively.

These devices weigh less than a pound.

"Women are the ideal target because they have purses to carry the devices in and are more likely to be hooked on casual games than men are," Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, told TechNewsWorld.

However, the A100s still have a few rough edges, one being a relatively short battery life of about five hours.

"The short battery life is a huge issue," said Azita Arvani, principal at the Arvani Group.

"You should be able to use a tablet all day or even for a couple of days between charges," she told TechNewsWorld.

Acer did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

Tech Specs for the A100

The A100 series of tablets is based on Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core processors with 1GB of RAM. These integrate the Ultra Low-Power GeForce graphics processing unit (GPU).

The Tab A100 series devices weigh less than one pound, have seven-inch multitouch TFT WSVGA screen displays with resolution of 1024 by 600, and feature a 16:10 aspect ratio and a 75-degree viewing angle.

WSVGA is the wide version of Super VGA and is often used on ultramobile PCs, netbooks and tablets.

Acer A100 tablets have the by-now standard two cameras. Preinstalled applications include Adobe Flash Player 10.3, Google Movies and Music apps, the Acer LumiRead and Google Books e-reading apps, Aupeo for online radio and NemoPlayer for videos, photos and music. The Tab A100s use Dolby Mobile Technology.

The Tab A100s have six-axis motion-sensing gyrometers. They also have the Social Jogger feature, which aggregates social media sites in one location. They come with a trial version of the Docs to Go app for work use.

Connectivity is provided through 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth.

Tab A100 devices have a microSD card reader, a microUSB port, HDMI ports and dual display support, and can be used as game controllers.

They run Android 3.2 and their batteries are rated for five hours' use.

Cavils and Complaints

Perhaps the issue that will impact the Tab A100 series the most is the question of battery life.

"The floor on battery life for tablets has been set by Apple at 10 hours, and unless someone can reset this expectation, it will be a critical weakness for any tablet regardless of size," Enderle said. "I think it's a design mistake for Acer to miss it."

Also, the A100 series "suffers from an identity crisis," Arvani remarked. "It's hard to see who the target audience is and what use cases it's best suited for."

Marketing Against the iMonster

Like other Android tablets, the Acer Tab A100 series may find it difficult to compete with the iPad.

"To compete with the iPad, you need a killer differentiator, and this is where the A100 falls short," Arvani said.

The A100 will likely be a low-volume seller because "Apple sets the expectations for what a tablet should be and this misses out on a lot of fronts," Enderle said.

That means a greater need for marketing, but "Acer isn't known for its strong marketing, so the potential for this product probably won't be realized," Enderle added.


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