Acer Iconia Tab A500 now on sale, $450 for aluminum-clad WiFi-only model and doesn’t really stray from the Tegra 2 norm when it comes to internal specs, but it does have that brushed aluminum back and a full-sized USB 2.0 port.You’ll get 16GB of storage and 802.11b/g/n WiFi connectivity for your money and though ASUS’ similarly outfitted Eee Pad Transformer should also be prominent on your radar as it’ll ask for an even humbler $399………..
The Acer ICONIA Tab A500 tablet has jumped into availability here in the US today via BestBuy.com and the model available is priced at $449 and features Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity only along with 16GB of built-in flash storage and of course Android 3.0 Honeycomb.Fire up the A500 and the first thing you’ll notice is that the Android pull-down notification bar is gone. It’s one of my favourite Android features but don’t fear, it’s been replaced by something even more practical for a tablet. Honeycomb features a Status Bar across the bottom of the screen which remains in place even when you open apps – not dissimilar to what you’d find on a desktop Windows computer.At the left of the Status Bar you’ve got context-sensitive virtual buttons instead of Android’s traditional physical Back, Home, Search and Menu options buttons. You’ve always got onscreen Back and Home buttons, plus a new app-switching button which looks like a stack of windows. Tap on it and you’ll get a Windows 7-esque pop-up displaying thumbnails of all your open apps so you can easily switch between them. It’s a fantastic way to make the most of Honeycomb’s multi-tasking features. When you open an app the Menu button now appears in the Status Bar, offering context-sensitive options depending on the app.
On the right of the Status Bar you’ve got wifi signal strength, battery level and a clock. Alongside these are icon notifications for events such as downloads, installations and incoming emails. A pop-up notifies you of incoming gmail messages, including details of the sender and subject – once again replicating the desktop experience. Tap on the clock and you’ll get a list of all your notifications. Tap again and you’ll get easy access to settings such as airplane mode, wifi and brightness.Back on the home screen, you’ve now got an Action Bar across the top. It offers quick access to Google search (text and voice), your list of apps and an impressive new widget management system which makes it easy to customise the look of your five home screens.Android’s Honeycomb overhaul brings many of the best bits of the desktop user experience to a tablet, unlike Windows 7 which brings with it the worst of the desktop user experience. Honeycomb makes the A500 tablet a delight to use and offers a real productivity boost which helps you get the most from the multi-tasking features. In terms of multi-tasking productivity tools. The difference is that Android 3.x is designed from the ground up to support a tablet multi-tasking user experience, whereas in iOS4.x multi-tasking can still feel tacked on.
The A500 sports an NVIDIA Tegra 250 dual-core processor under the bonnet along with 1GB of RAM. It’s a powerful combination that really lets Android shine, whether flicking through the home screens or navigating complex web pages. The screen and icons are also very responsive and the interface rotates smoothly from landscape to portrait and back, although not quite as quickly as the iPad. Thankfully there’s none of the portrait-only home screen limitations that you find on the cheap Android tablets, although a few apps such as Android Market only run in portrait mode.The A500 certainly has enough grunt to run Adobe’s Flash smoothly. It’s not installed by default but you can easily install Flash Player 10.2 for free from Android Market. My first port of call was the ABC’s brilliant Flash-based iView service and the results were quite smooth – certainly on par with the HTC Desire running Android 2.2.The Acer Iconia Tab A500 features a 10.1-inch screen 1280×800 TFT WXGA screen, an Nvidia Tegra 250 1GHz dual-core processor, 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of flash storage (with the possibility of extending the storage capacity up to 32 GB via a Micro-SD card). It’s got a 5-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel front one for video chats, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a USB 2.0 port and a battery that should last around 10 hours if you’re using the device for browsing the web.