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So, what about usability for the 7-inch Acer Iconia Tab A100? That's something we measure carefully over an extended period, using the tablet as any mobile user would – checking email in a cafe, checking directions in the car and listening to music using earphones. The trouble is, a smartphone such as the HTC Evo 3D serves all of these purposes, lasts longer and has a better screen.
Compared to the HTC Flyer, it's a toss-up. The Flyer looks better – with a white-silver design and an interesting slight curvature that makes it seem like something Steve Jobs wouldn't scoff at repeatedly. The Acer Iconia Tab A100 is just flat and rectangular. At least with the Toshiba Thrive, there's a snakeskin pattern for extra grip on the back.
The optional case for the Acer Iconia Tab A100 improves usability, because you can protect the tablet and be a little more careless with it. You can also fold the top cover back and prop the Acer Iconia Tab A100 up on a desk, and use it occasionally as a secondary display next to your main computer.
The categorisation system isn't that helpful for usability. It's much easier to just group apps on home screens in your own way, and saves on extra finger presses. Most users will probably end up doing that anyway, and the Acer UI for these category apps has a faint glimmer of Microsoft Bob.
Still, the Acer Iconia Tab A100 is small and agile – it has the same benefits and detriments as the HTC Flyer. For those who read ebooks and tend to use a tablet in short spurts and don't watch movies, the A100 isn't a bad choice. There are hundreds of compelling apps compared to the BlackBerry PlayBook, which seems to have languished in the unknown land of RIM.
John Brandon has covered gadgets and cars for the past 12 years having published over 12,000 articles and tested nearly 8,000 products. He's nothing if not prolific. Before starting his writing career, he led an Information Design practice at a large consumer electronics retailer in the US. His hobbies include deep sea exploration, complaining about the weather, and engineering a vast multiverse conspiracy.