Acer Iconia A1 review

Budget Android tablet looks solid but unexceptional

acer iconia a1
It's very... Nexus 7

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With the number of Android-based seven- or eight-inch tablets rising steadily, the Iconia A1 is starting to look a little lost in the tide, despite looking on paper to be a decent family tablet.

In that scenario, maybe its dual cameras and panoramic mode will help the Acer Iconia A1 appeal to anyone looking for an all-round good value tablet for kids.

We liked

Despite its drab design, the Acer Iconia A1 is a very solidly made tablet that we'd be happy to throw around a house for a few years at least. The Touch WakeUp app proves useful in removing a layer of often pointless security, while we love the microSD card slot and HDMI out ports - both of which being features that iPad mini 2 owners miss out on.

Few tablets of this price have dual cameras, while we're also fans of Acer's move towards using a micro USB connector to recharge the tablet, rather than using its own proprietary chargers. Mostly, however, we like the Acer Iconia A1's battery life, its speedy browsing and a touchscreen that's just good enough for the job - and all at a price of just £160.

We disliked

With Apple improving the iPad mini display, as well as Google and Amazon also pushing hard in this area, the Acer simply can't keep up.

Looking to beat its rivals on price above all else, Acer hasn't allowed itself to get to carried away with hardware generally. The use of grey plastic around its rim isn't fooling us, though it's the white plastic reverse that compares especially badly to an iPad mini - it's more comparable to the cheaper Hudl.

An auto brightness sensor is needed, too. And though we liked Touch WakeUp, we do wish it was possible to customise which app is fired up from here - perhaps Gmail, books or a browser would be more useful to most people.

Final verdict

This isn't the ultimate tablet for any specific purpose, but for those after something highly portable, well made and with a long battery life, the Acer Iconia A1 could just be it.

The Acer Iconia A1's screen is fine for browsing and gaming. Its 4:3 aspect ratio makes it better for browsing and general productivity than, say, the smaller Google Nexus 7 or Tesco Hudl, though the quality of its screen can't rival the ones on either of those, or (especially not) on the far pricer Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0. It is, however, superior to the good value Archos 80 Titanium.

A few months ago this was an acceptable tablet, and it's still a good-quality alternative to the iPad mini 2 if you're wedded to the 4:3 screen ratio - but otherwise there are many better options for less money, and even more for only a few pounds more.

Jamie Carter

Jamie is a freelance tech, travel and space journalist based in the UK. He’s been writing regularly for Techradar since it was launched in 2008 and also writes regularly for Forbes, The Telegraph, the South China Morning Post, Sky & Telescope and the Sky At Night magazine as well as other Future titles T3, Digital Camera World, All About Space and He also edits two of his own websites, and that reflect his obsession with travel gear and solar eclipse travel. He is the author of A Stargazing Program For Beginners (Springer, 2015),