Group Test: Sub-8in Tablets (Part 1) : Acer Iconia Tab A110, Amazon Kindle Fire HD

1/2/2013 2:58:49 AM

Acer Iconia Tab A110

At first glance the Iconia Tab A110 looks very similar to the Nexus 7, but it’s thicker and heavier. The build quality is reasonable and the tablet feels robust, but we’re not fond of its dated slab-like design and plasticky feel at this price we expect better.

In common with the Nexus 7, the A110 has an nVidia Tegra 3 processor and 1GB of RAM. Both devices offer excellent performance and, although the Acer didn’t come out on top in any test, it scooped some of the best results in our benchmarks.

Acer Iconia Tab A110

Acer Iconia Tab A110

The storage capacity is rather low at just 8GB, but you can pop in a microSD card to add up to 32GB. Unlike the Nexus 7, the Iconia Tab is fitted with an HDMI output for connection to a large screen.

The 7in screen is where the A110 stumbles. Its 1024x600 resolution is lower than expected for the money, and viewing angles leave something to be desired when compared with those of Google’s tablet’s In-plane switching (IPS) panel.

You get 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0 and GPS. There’s no rear-facing camera, but a front-facing 2Mp camera is sufficient for conducting video chat and snapping self-portraits.

The A110 ships with a near stock installation of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, to which Acer has tweaked the Home screen to operate in landscape mode and added power-plan options to the notification bar.

Preinstalled apps comprise the usual set of Google services, including YouTube, Gmail and Chrome. There’s also the Google Now search engine, which draws on the extensive information Google holds on you to help it predict what you’re looking for.

The lack of Adobe Flash support is becoming less of a problem for Android 4.1 devices, with new apps designed to offer a workaround. The BBC has updated its iPlayer app to make it compatible with Google’s now Flash-less OS, for example.

We found the Acer’s battery lasted a couple of days with occasional and varied use. It endured 7.5 hours of our video-looping test, falling short of the Nexus 7.


·         Price: $269

·         Contact:


·         With an extra $31.8 slapped on the price tag, a chunky design, a mediocre screen and meagre storage capacity, the Acer Iconia Tab A110 can’t compete with the Google Nexus 7. If you need HDMI or microSD compatibility, though, the Acer is a strong performer.

·         Build: 2.5/5

·         Features: 3.5/5

·         Performance: 4/5

·         Value: 3/5

·         Overall: 3/5

Amazon Kindle Fire HD

The 7in Kindle Fire HD runs a heavily customised version of Android that’s unrecognisable from its Ice Cream Sandwich blueprint. Amazon’s interpretation is slick, easy to use and intuitive, with a carousel of recent apps, books, sites and more on the Home screen.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD

Amazon Kindle Fire HD

In each section you can switch between local and cloud-stored content. Amazon throws in 5GB of web space for your documents, photos and videos, while a Cloud Player app stores up to 250 audio tracks (or up to 250,000 for $35 per year).

It’s possible to drag-and-drop files from a PC to the Fire HD’s 16GB Internal storage capacity, but we found some photos displayed at the wrong aspect ratio and a handful of our MP3 files were ignored. There’s no support for removable memory cards.

The Kindle Fire HD is rumoured to be sold at a loss to encourage content sales, so it’s no surprise to find strong similarities with Amazon’s Kindle e-readers. The interface is almost identical to that of a traditional E Ink Kindle, yet the experience is very different, given the Fire HD’s LCD screen. It’s not nearly as easy to read in bright light, and it’s reflective. Viewing angles are very good, though, while the characters are sharp and words are easy to read.

Naturally, the Kindle Fire HD offers the same excellent selection of e-books as a traditional Kindle, while Whispersync technology lets you can carry on reading any title from where you left off.

Amazon owns Lovefilm, so those who hold a subscription to this service can also stream movies on the tablet. The Fire’s speakers are also better able to handle audio than those offered by most tablets.

Amazon’s Appstore has many popular apps, but its collection isn’t as extensive as that found in Google Play - in fact, you won’t find any Google apps at all. The Fire HD also lacks a GPS receiver, but you can use Google Maps via the non-Flash-friendly browser.

At just under 400g, the Fire HD is heavy. Build quality is good, but performance isn’t as fast as we’d like. In use, the tablet doesn’t feel as snappy as an IPad mini or Nexus 7, especially when browsing or launching apps. Battery life is very good, though.


·         Price: $239

·         Contact:


·         If you want something that’s easy to use - particularly for reading e-books - and don’t need GPS, the Fire HD is a good buy. But the faster Google Nexus 7 offers better value at this price.

·         Build: 4.5/5

·         Features: 3.5/5

·         Performance: 3/5

·         Value: 3.5/5

·         Overall: 3.5/5

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