Review: Acer Iconia A1-830 is a Disappointing iPad Mini Clone
Alas, sometimes Acer’s generally adequate tablets miss the mark.
The Iconia A1-830 is a mid-grade 8″ tablet which launched in April 2014. I didn’t get a chance to review it until July and August, and now that I’ve spent some time with it I am glad that I didn’t buy it myself. This is a rather disappointing tablet that actually made the cheaper Hisense Sero 8 look good.
Review Date: 18 August 2014 – Review unit loaned from Acer
This tablet has been reviewed extensively (and mostly negatively), so rather than write a full review I am going to write a shorter post with just some of the highlights. You can think of this post as a personal rant rather than a review, if you like.
Pro & Con
- It looks pretty.
- It has an Origami cover.
- It is white.
- The Touchscreen behaved inconsistently, sometimes responding to my touch and other times ignoring me. Also, I frequently had problems getting the onscreen keyboard to appear.
- Bloatware – The Iconia A1-830 ships with an excess of apps I don’t want, including just about every app made by Amazon. What’s more,
- Battery Life was around 5 hours, much shorter that the 7 plus hour battery life of the Hisense Sero 8.
- Performance – In spite of the excellent Antutu benchmark score, the performance did not impress.
- The Touchscreen – Did I mention that the touchscreen was terrible?
You can find the specs for this tablet at the end of the post, so I’ll skip the general details.
This is a well-built tablet at first glance. It’s sleek and uses high quality components to offer a convincing imitation of an iPad Mini (albeit one with microUSB and a microSD card slot). It has a powerful CPU, adequate storage, great cameras (both the 2MP and 5MP cameras took excellent quality photos), and my review unit came with an origami case.
But as much as I like the general appearance of this tablet, actually using it was an unpleasant experience.
I found the touchscreen on this tablet to be seriously defective. It is inconsistent to the point of practically being unusable. And it’s not just that I am having trouble getting it to respond to my touch; I am having trouble with activities as basic as calling up the onscreen keyboard.
I don’t know if this is strictly a hardware issue or a combination of a software/hardware problem, but I frequently have a problem with trying to make the onscreen keyboard appear. That blocks me from even simple tasks like sending an email or searching for an app in Google play, and it hampers the tablet to the point it is unusable.
I did test the battery. I would estimate that the 4Ah battery will last long enough for 5 hours of video – far less than the 8 hours claimed by Acer. If you turn down the backlight, turn off the Wifi and choose a less intensive task you should be able to make that should stretch for a couple additional hours.
Five hours of battery life is not bad, but it’s also nothing to write home about.
I was reviewing $99 budget tablets this time last year which had a similar runtime, and a couple months ago I reviewed the Hisense Sero 8. That tablet cost less and had a longer battery life.
In short, the battery life of the A1-830 is unimpressive. I expected more from a name brand tablet.
images via Cnet
The less said about the pre-installed software, the better.
In addition to the usual stock Android apps and Google apps, Acer also shipped this tablet with a few Acer apps as well as every single app made by Amazon, including Audible.
I have the suspicion that Acer made a lot of money from companies that paid for their app to be added to the bloatware. This would explain why the McAfee app was included.
As you can see in the screenshots below, this tablet has a decent Antutu score – almost twice as high as truly cheap budget tablets. This score reflects the impressive hardware components, and it is well into the same range as premium smartphone like the Galaxy Note 2.
I don’t know whether it is poor system software if there is simply too much junk running in the background but unfortunately, the actual performance doesn’t live up to the test scores. I found this tablet to be laggy. Even simply things like waking it up or unlocking the lock screen had a brief lag.
Given the test scores and price tag that is simply unacceptable.
The Iconia A1-830 was nearly universally panned when it shipped in April, and with good reason. It’s not a terrible tablet, but it is disappointing and did not live up to its original $180 price tag.
My standards are lower than most reviewers, but even when I review this tablet with the current $140 price in mind, it’s still a disappointing tablet. The Iconia A1-830 offers laggy performance, an inconsistent touchscreen, and less than impressive battery life.
I went into this review with the expectation that this tablet would be better than the Hisense Sero 8 I reviewed last month, but much to my surprise I am going to suggest that you buy that other tablet. It might not have the brand name but it does offer better performance, a better experience, and better battery life.
Where to Get It
At the time I wrote this review, the A1-830 was selling for anywhere from $140 to $166.
- OS: Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
- CPU: 1.6GHz Dual-core Intel Atom Z2560
- GPU: Power VR SGX 544MP2
- RAM: 965MB
- Storage: 11.5GB internal (9GB accessible), microSD card slot
- Screen: 7.9″ IPS panel, XGA 1024 x 768 resolution
- Touchscreen: 5 point capacitive
- Cameras: 2MP (front-facing), 5MP (rear-facing)
- Connectivity: Wifi, Bluetooth
- Battery: 4 Ah
- Battery Life: 5 hours
- Weight: 380 grams
- Dimensions: 8″ x 5.4″ x .3″