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The Acer Iconia Tab A500 uses a fairly typical 10.1-inch touchscreen that looks bright and clear. The initial reaction to the screen might not be "wow, that's amazingly bright". However, it mostly functions as you'd expect and doesn't lessen or improve the Android 3.0 experience compared to the Asus Eee Pad Transformer or Motorola Xoom.
Also like the Xoom, the Iconia Tab A500 screen tends to get grime-covered after several hours of usage. The iPad 2 uses a similar grime-reducing coating as the iPhone 4 and tends to look less smudged. It's not such a serious problem on the Iconia Tab A500 that the device becomes unusable, however.
We were unable to test it in time, but there's a dock available for the Acer Iconia Tab A500, which costs £60. The dock charges the Acer Iconia Tab A500 and has an external 3.5mm port for connecting speakers. There's also a remote for advancing through music tracks or to the next scene in a movie. As an add-on, the docking station is a good way to view videos or photo galleries on the screen while the tablet charges.
Another important note about the Iconia Tab A500 screen is that it tends to represent colours a hair better than the Motorola Xoom. In several tests with the built-in camera, shots looked more accurate to the physical object. For example, the dark burgundy of a photo frame looked more realistic on the Acer Iconia Tab A500.
The BlackBerry PlayBook revealed some shortcomings on Android 3.0 devices, namely that you can use the side bezel on that tablet to control parts of the interface. Until Apple leads the industry again with a full side-to-side display (presumably on the iPhone 5), the bezel on most tablets is just there for looks. On the Acer Iconia Tab A500 it's slightly wider, but that makes the device a bit easier to grasp.
One other gripe: in some lighting conditions, the Iconia Tab A500 shows a slight dot pattern on the screen. This wasn't an issue in everyday use, though, and might only be noticeable in bright sunlight.
Speaking of sunny days, the Iconia Tab A500 also has a surprisingly glare-prone screen. In one test with the built-in rear-facing camera, the glare was so harsh we couldn't even see the screen to take a photo.
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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.