It's hard to recommend the Acer Iconia Tab A100 in light of the 10-inch alternatives. Yet, for such as ebook fans and those who like smaller tabs, this is the best of the 7-inch lot.
The Android 3.2 operating system is a smart option. In our tests, older apps looked more reasonable on the screen. All of the benchmarking apps we tested, which are designed for smartphones, filled the screen correctly. Even the Astro File Manager app filled the screen to the edges and lined up icons in a neat row.
Ebook reading works well, although the screen's a bit glossy with a slight mirroring effect that might cause some eye strain.
Android 3.2 resized most apps well, but that's not a huge problem at this screen size.
The Acer Iconia Tab A100 is fast – it blew through several benchmark tests, even if the basic operation of loading apps, playing games and watching movies didn't seem to benefit that much from the CPU speed.
The screen on the Acer Iconia Tab A100 is mirror-like, with a weird glare, as if it's in 3D but not quite. From a side angle, the screen looks too shiny. Contrast ratio for movies wasn't good at all.
The battery life is only about five hours, because the battery's so small. If you stream a lot of movies online, the battery will last for four hours or so.
Processing was fast for our benchmark tests, but Android 3.2 runs about the same for most apps as it does on a 10-inch tab. The smaller size doesn't make it quicker.
Somewhere, there's a niche for this tablet. It's mostly for folks who want a smaller tablet, but then they could just select a smartphone with a large screen, such as the HTC Evo 3D. Ebook reading worked well, if you can live with the somewhat glossy screen.
To say the Acer Iconia Tab A100 is the best 7-inch Android tablet is a bit misleading. But we do prefer it over the HTC Flyer, due to the included Android 3.2 operating system.
In some ways, the BlackBerry PlayBook is better in a technical sense – at least it does real multitasking – but it has too few apps. We like the A100 for an express purpose: greater mobility and book reading. For most tasks, a 10-inch tablet is a wiser bet.