Review: Acer Iconia A1-830 is a Disappointing iPad Mini Clone
Acer might not be the biggest tablet maker but they are a well known name with an established reputation for quality.
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 $166.
- OS: Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
- CPU: 1.6GHz Dual-core Intel Atom Z2560
- GPU: Power VR SGX 544MP2
- RAM: 965MB
- Storage: 11.5GB internal (9GB accessible), microSD card slot
- Screen: 7.9″ IPS panel, XGA 1024 x 768 resolution
- Touchscreen: 5 point capacitive
- Cameras: 2MP (front-facing), 5MP (rear-facing)
- Connectivity: Wifi, Bluetooth
- Battery: 4 Ah
- Battery Life: 5 hours
- Weight: 380 grams
- Dimensions: 8″ x 5.4″ x .3″
jjj August 16, 2014 um 3:09 pm
I object to the clone thing, when the iphone went with 16:10 you started calling it an Android clone? If not then you got no justification to call 4:3 tablets ipad clones.
As for Antutu ,it’s a horrible benchmark , just like all the others that bundle everything together. The only valid way to look at it is to look at every score not at the total.
When you said it’s like Galaxy Note , do you mean the 3 years old dual core A9?
Anyway, the total is not good at all You got a score that is slightly higher than a quad A7 and high end phones do twice that. Even an 8 cores Mediatek does some 27k. Then you have to factor in that the GPU test is on screen and this screen is low res.
You certainly can’t really say that the Antutu score is impressive, it’s what you expect for a 100$-150$ tablet.
You do seem to have a distorted image about Intel , believing that it’s fast so maybe pay more attention to benchmarks but also remember that some devices cheat and in actual use Intel might not always work as well as expected since they don’t have a proper ARM core.
You could maybe look the Nvidia Shield tablet review on a site like Anandtech and run the benchmarks on this one to see how far it is behind the current top SoC.
Nate Hoffelder August 16, 2014 um 4:57 pm
There are so many things wrong with this comment. For one thing, there’s the hostility, which is uncalled for.
"no justification to call 4:3 tablets ipad clones"
This 4:3 tablet was _styled_ to look like an iPad Mini, so yes it is a clone. And for the record, I didn’t call the Sero 8 an iPad Mini clone, a fact which you might have researched.
"You certainly can’t really say that the Antutu score is impressive, it’s what you expect for a 100$-150$ tablet."
Fine. I’ll remove the word impressive. But as for the reliability, I use the Antutu X app – the one designed to counter the fraud of certain Chinese tablet makers.
"You do seem to have a distorted image about Intel , believing that it’s fast"
Nope. In the past I have written words to the effect that Intel’s x86 chips can match the performance of an ARM chip with half as many cores. This tablet bore that out. And on a related note, I just ran an Antutu test on a $99 quad-core Intel tablet from Toshiba. It scored 32,000.
"You could maybe look the Nvidia Shield tablet review on a site like Anandtech"
That tablet costs twice as much as the one I reviewed above, so the fact it scored twice as high on the antutu test is not a shock nor does it prove me wrong, exactly.
It is also an irrelevant argument. This site focuses on cheap tablets. I will not buy a $300 tablet, and I don’t think people come here looking for reviews of $300 tablets. We’re into buying sub-$100 Android tablets, and when I discuss a tablet that is where I am coming from.
jjj August 17, 2014 um 12:11 am
First of all there is no hostility at all, maybe you are a bit off today – see ,this was hostility.
It’s not styled like an ipad at all, it’s 4:3 , that’s your entire justification to call it an ipad clone and you keep doing that because you aren’t objective when it comes to Apple( or Amazon and Intel for that matter). The Sero 8 is not 4:3 but every 4:3 you see,you call an ipad clone.Go check,ive been reading this blog for a few years now, i’m familiar with your preconceptions.
I know you are using Antutu X and when i mentioned that some cheap was when i urged you to look at more benchmarks not in relation to your Antutu score.
And why did that tablet score 32k? What;’s the screen resolutions again? And doesn’t that show that calling 19k impressive is a huge exaggeration?
You just can’t take a criticism or even an advice. My entire Antutu segment was just that, an advice, the pure fact that you use Antutu shows that you need to be "educated" and it wasn’t hostile at all. No serious review site uses Antutu, no PC enthusiast likes benchmarks that bundle everything together,, it’s embarrassing.
As for me urging you too look at that review, you are missing the point,that review includes a bunch of SoCs including the new TK1 and it would help you get familiar with the performance of a bunch of SOCs,, you clearly aren’t familiar with what’s impressive and what isn’t.
As for price, it’s off-topic . My objective was to the word impressive , something that shows that you are not objective when it comes to Intel or that you are not familiar with modern hardware, or both.
And back to Intel ,maybe you should should check and that you always praise Intel SoCs in some way, or pair it with a positive word.
I guess i’ll have to abstain from commenting here anymore,until you grow up and learn to take an advice.
fjtorres August 16, 2014 um 5:17 pm
Given that the primary focus of the site is digital reading it makes sense to focus on the low end tablets that overlap the ereader market.
Helps warn folks away from the crappy ones and hilight the useful ones.
There’s a bit too much focus on Apple, considering the hardware doesn’t really overlap with ereaders, but… if it keeps the fen at bay… 😉
Nate Hoffelder August 16, 2014 um 6:53 pm
I might not want to buy an iDevice but I do want to read the latest gossip about them. I bet everyone else feels th same.
fjtorres August 16, 2014 um 10:25 pm
If you mean that "everybody" literally, you lose the bet. 🙂
Victor August 18, 2014 um 7:57 am
Man, and I thought my english was broken.
Thomas August 18, 2014 um 2:29 pm
Acer has always had a habit of overdoing the bundling of software. My old Acer netbook had McAfee’s preinstalled and ran like garbage. After I removed it and a lot of other bloatware, it turned out to be a pretty good machine. After 5 years, it still gets good battery life.
Vinciane Baudoux January 2, 2015 um 1:49 pm
Hello, I just bought an Acer Iconia One 8 B1-810 and it is also full of bloatware by Acer, Amazon and Google. Is there a safe way to get rid of the apps I don’t need without rooting the device? This tab is very new anyway and I don’t think the procedure to root it exists yet.
Nate Hoffelder January 2, 2015 um 2:04 pm
To start, you can try a factory reset. In some cases that will wipe some of the apps. After that, you’ll have to manually delete the apps:
Vinciane Baudoux January 2, 2015 um 4:08 pm
Thanks for helping, I really appreciate. This might be a naive question, but why would a factory reset wipe out some of the apps?
Nate Hoffelder January 2, 2015 um 4:19 pm
Sometimes apps are simply pre-installed. Other times they are tied into the firmware. The latter are much more frustrating to remove.
True User January 15, 2015 um 9:23 pm
I have found that the Acer iconina A1-830 is a good performing tablet. It has good battery life, I get a day of like at least 6 hours of onscreen use. The display looks bright and crisp, and it comes with android 4.4.2 as of right now plus other updates. It has a great metal premium feel, and is thin! The 2 cameras work great and it has a micro SD card slot. Considering its price the Acer iconia A1-830 tablet is good performing.
Jimmy Montano April 30, 2015 um 10:02 am
I found a brand new Acer Iconia A1-830 at a great price. So far has been a great tablet experience.
I think that if the main idea of the blog is to review cheap tablets that are also good e-readers, performance shouldn’t be the deciding factor.