I was recently sent an Acer Iconia A200 Tablet to review. I’ll tell you a bit about the specifications before I tell you my thoughts. (I’ll just put in the important bits – you can view full info on the Acer Website)

RRP: £279.99
Operating System: Android Ice Cream Sandwich
Battery Life: Up to 8 hours
Screen Size: 10.1 inch
Memory: 8GB on board, accepts Micro SD card up to 32GB
Touch Screen: Yes
Wifi: Yes
3G: No
Camera: 2 MP – Front
Size: 260 x 175 x 12.4 mm
Weight: 720g

I received a Red Acer A200, and the first thing that struck me was the feel of it. The back has a Red, rubber coating which makes it non slip. If you’re half as clumsy as I am, this will be a huge plus. The A200 feels heavy to hold compared to an iPad, but it definitely feels more robust, too. I would definitely feel more confident giving the A200 to a child to use, thanks to this.

The Acer A200 comes with some fab features. The main things it has which iPads don’t are: Micro SD slot – this allows you to add a memory card to bulk up your memory! I am forever having to clear stuff off my iPad, so the Micro SD card is a huge plus in my book. A 32GB Micro SD card will set you back around £20, you pay an extra £80 for a 32GB iPad.

The A200 also has a USB port which allows you to plug in keyboards or USB storage devices – again, something apple don’t feature (You can only use wireless keyboards with iPads). For me, the ability to attach a normal keyboard is fab. It means I can type as easily on my tablet as I can on my laptop. Well done Acer!

I also love the vibrate feature. You feel the A200 vibrate with each key press – I know this isn’t necessarily for everyone, but it’s a big deal for me! The 2MP camera is front facing – making it ideal for Skype and such like, but not great for photography. The battery life says up to 8 hours – I got around 5 hours use browsing the internet, email, apps and the play store (Android’s version of the app store).

The Acer A200 has flash player too – another thing iPads lack. I’ll be honest – I don’t usually miss this on my iPad. The A200 has it, but it is a bit slow to load. If you use flash based sites, it’s a definite improvement on apple! The browser works well, and loads at about the same speed as my iPad 1 for the most part – but it is a touch slower if the page is large.

LumiRead (the Android equivalent of iBooks) works well. If you have used an iPad, the A200 isn’t quite as smooth when it comes to page turning, but it does the job. The A200 is a bit heavy though, so while I would happily use this for a bit of quick reading, I’m not sure I’d be able to hold it up for a good few hours’ reading. The A200 weighs 720g so is about on par with the average hard back. I am used to holding the iPad now though so this seemed heavy in comparison.

If you are a blogger, or like to keep up with social networking while on the go, the A200 is fine – as long as you have a wifi connection. I managed to read and comment on wordpress, blogger and self hosted blogs without any issues. The Twitter website loads as the mobile version, which is a tad annoying. The twitter app does work better than the browser version – definitely worth downloading if you’re a twitter addict too! Facebook from the browser worked perfectly – no issues here. There is an app as well; but in my opinion, the browser version is better.

Android’s play store allows you to buy apps, books and movies. The prices are clearly displayed and you pay via google wallet with your credit or debit card. There are plenty of free downloads, and you’ll find lots of popular apps including angry birds and draw something. You can use the 3.5mm headphone jack if you want to play or read without disturbing anybody else.

I set up my email account on the A200, and that worked fine as well. It was really easy to set up my account too. I just put in my username and password for my google, yahoo and hotmail accounts and they were all set up instantly. The sound quality is good, and the video quality is fine for general watching in my opinion. It is worth noting the A200 doesn’t have HDMI, though. Youtube works well both in the browser, and via the app.

I have a few niggles about the A200 which I feel I should mention too. The first thing is the ease of use. It took me a good few hours to get used to the layout and navigation style. I picked up the iPad and could use it without much thought. It took me ages to find the menu on the A200, and I had to use google to find out how to mute it.

While you can start using the Acer A200 without connecting it to a computer, you will need to connect to
download any updates. For this reason, you’ll need to have access to a computer to get the most from your tablet.

Android seem to have missed off one critical factor – the ability to purchase music on the device. You can transfer files from your computer via USB, but you can’t buy it via play store. They’ve missed a huge opportunity here, in my opinion.

I personally wouldn’t use the A200 as my main internet access, but it is the ideal bit of kit for a child’s first tablet, or for someone who just wants to be able to browse the net from their sofa. The lack of 3G probably make it a bit less desirable for professionals as you can only connect to the internet via wifi.

Overall, whilst on the heavy side, the
A200 feels robust and well built. The Android Operating System it runs isn’t as fluid or easy to use as Apple’s iOS, and the navigation is at times frustrating. However, Android is still in its infancy and will no doubt improve with time – the A200 should benefit from free upgrades as they are released.

I give the Acer A200 4 out of 5 as a starter tablet. However from a professional point of view, it gets 3 out of 5 from me. I’d definitely buy it for a child or relative who just wants to do a bit of browsing or use skype, but for heavy use, it’s just not mobile enough in my opinion.

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