On Thursday 24th May 2013, I was invited to attend an exclusive event in London for bloggers to help launch the new Acer Iconia A1. It's the first time that I have been invited to an event like this through my website, and I was quite chuffed to bits that I was asked, as it means that Daves Travel Pages is starting to get to the next level. At the time of the invite, all that I knew was that it was to launch a new Acer product, but I didn't know which one. I had half hoped it would be their “top secret” Windows tablet, but it wasn't to be!
The event was held in the Wyld bar in the W Hotel just off Leicester Square. I have to say, that the place is a bit posh, and I am sure they appreciated a shaven headed thug-like creature such as myself traipsing through their high class bar areas! On arrival in the function room off to the side, I was given the new, as yet un-launched Acer Iconia A1 in its box, and made my way to find a seat.
Inside the box were the usual bits a pieces you would come to expect, but one of the first things that stood out to me, was what they called an “international travelers warranty passport”. Ok, I didn't appreciate the American spelling of it (obviously!), but coming at it from a travel perspective, it seemed like a great idea. If people were considering buying one to take on a trip around the world, and it went wrong on them, they could at least use the warranty in the country they were– Interesting idea!
As I got to the business of taking the tablet out of its packaging and turning it on, it was quite interesting to see the different sorts of people at the event. There were bloggers from different fields, as well as lifestyle websites and probably more that I never found out about. It seemed a good idea from both a promotional and a feedback point of view.
Once out of its packaging, things didn't get off to a flying start when it entered into a “death loop” on starting up. It connected to the wi-fi ok, and then it asked for my Google details. I typed these in wrongly to see what would happen, and well, a death loop happened! The first rule of tech support is switch it off and on again, so whilst I did that, I got a beer from the bar.
Back to my seat, and the Acer Iconia A1 switched on without problems on the second attempt, and so it was time to have a play with it. My first impression was that it was a direct competitor to the Apple iPad Mini as its screen specs are very similar –
1024 x 768,
4:3 Color TFT-LCD with LED Backlight.
Viewing angle: 85 / 85 /85 /85,
with IPS* technology
Its 5MP camera is also the same, although this is perhaps now the standard on tablets at the moment.
Playing around with it, I found it to be fast and responsive making the best use of the latest version of Android. In the first half hour, I noted its good points were that the on/off button was at the top and in a different place to the volume control (I HATE that about my Samsung Galaxy Tab!). The on screen keyboard is one of the best that I have used, and I was not getting as many wrong letters pressed as I do on my phone and Galaxy Tab – In fact it was so good that I could almost see myself working on it, although I am really of the opinion that tablet computers are for consuming data rather than creating it. Its other good points were that it was pretty light, and the 8 hour battery life (untested by me yet) is suitable for my needs. It also boasts a micro HDMI port which could be useful for linking to monitors or even a TV – Again I haven't tried this yet.
Bad points were that I am not convinced by the screen size – I prefer my Samsung Galaxy Tab for that. Probably for me though, I can see that it is has been made as a more economic and direct competitor to the Apple iPad Mini, and I really think that tech companies should innovate not replicate.
As its not released yet, the price is yet to be confirmed, although there were suggestions that the 8GB version would be £149 and the 16GB version £169. This puts it at about a hundred pounds cheaper than the Apple iPad Mini, and would certainly get people asking the question why they would pay more for the Apple.
Personally, I think this would offer terrific value if it was priced at £129, and I can see Acer selling shed loads of these Iconia A1 tablet computers on the run up to Christmas. It looks like it would make an ideal gift for the kids as well as just about everybody else!
This is by no means a full evaluation of the Iconia A1, as I will need some time to test it out, and so you can expect two more articles on the subject. One on the Iconia itself, and another comparing it with the Samsung Galaxy Tab.
(Please note – Even though I was invited to the event, and received an Acer Iconia A1 to test, all the opinions are my own both good and bad! If you have a product or service that you would like me to review and give an honest opinion about, just drop me a line at dave (at) davestravelpages.com)