Acer A700 tablet impressions: Taking on the iPad with a Full HD screen

Acer Iconia Tab A700 high resolution screen

Make sure to check out our full Acer Iconia Tab A700 review.

Not everyone may like the iPad, but its screen is quite nice. Thanks to the laws of competition, we’re already seeing the competition attempt to catch up and move ahead of Apple. The Acer Iconia Tab A700 is one of the first premium post-iPad 3 tablets we spent a lot of time with, and so far, it’s looking quite nice, with a quad-core processor and Full HD screen. 

The A700 looks excessively similar to other recent Acer tablets like the A200 and A500, but now comes in the electronic world’s two favorite colors: silver and black. The form factor is pretty standard for iPad competitors running Android. It has a 10.1-inch screen and its only about 1.5 pounds. On the outside, there is nothing to rave about, design-wise, but Acer has steadily improved the look of their tablets, and this one looks about as good as most of the competition. Few will likely turn an A700 down due to its style. Really, it’s what’s on the inside, and on that 10.1-inch screen, that counts.

The screen of the Acer A700 has been improved significantly from previous models. Most Android tablets have stuck with a 1280×800 pixel resolution, but Acer has bumped the pixel count up significantly to the widescreen equivalent of 1080p: 1920 x 1200 pixels. The new screen appears more vivid and sharp than other Android tablets. Like the iPad’s new retina display, it’s not a change that will shock you to your core, but it’s hard to go back to a pixely world once everything is smoothed over. 1080p is a natural evolution for tablets. I’m not sure how much impact future resolution bumps might have on the experience, but this increase makes sense. The screen is also LED backlit and has wide 178-degree viewing angle — important for a tablet.

In addition to increasing the resolution of the new Iconia Tab, Acer is one of the first companies to take the plunge and incorporate a 1.3GHz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor into its tablet. The Tegra 3 actually boosts processing power and battery life, making a bit of a win-win for consumers. Acer reps told me that battery life for the A700 is actually better than its predecessors. They’re claiming video playback can reach 10.5 to 13 hours, depending on whether you are using Wi-Fi or not. If Web surfing is all you do, a charge should last you 8 hours. There have been some tests showing that the Tegra 3 might not live up to the new iPad’s power, but it’s difficult to do a direct comparison between the two because of the difference in operating systems. The Tegra 3 is currently one of the best options we’ve seen for tablet processors. From our two hands-on experiences with the tablet earlier this year and a few weeks ago, the A700 seems snappier than previous models, but we haven’t been able to perform any rigorous tests.

Acer Iconia TAb A700 front and back

Android 4.0 is also loaded. Since it comes from the PC world, Acer doesn’t have a history of tinkering around with the design and functionality of operating systems, which makes it one of few companies that leave Android alone, for the most part. The A700 runs a mostly clean version the OS, with Acer’s only modification being the addition of some apps, widgets, and an “Acer Ring” that lets you coverflow your way through recent activities and launch your favorite apps. The Ring can be customized in the settings menu.

The A700 also comes with 32GB of internal flash storage, Dolby-enhanced speakers (they still are pretty quiet, like all tablets), 1GB of RAM, a microSD slot capable of supporting 64GB cards, a 5MP rear camera, a “HD” front camera, and common features like GPS and Bluetooth (2.1).

Overall, we’re fairly impressed with the A700. Acer hasn’t leapfrogged Apple, but it is now offering a comparable product to the new iPad. And unlike other vendors, the A700 is actually cheaper as well. Acer is taking US and Canada pre-orders starting today for $450, or $50 less than the iPad. It’s not as cheap as we wish it was, but Acer appears to have a good leg up on the Android competition, when it comes to price and features.