The Anti - iPad Assembly (Part 1) - Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, Acer Iconia Tab A700

10/18/2012 9:20:40 AM

The iPad too pricey for you? Too limited? Or just too Apple? These 10in Android offer a real alternative

What’s new?

With hybrid form factors, bags of power and a fully customizable OS, Android tabs are finally coming of age. Sorting the kings of the jungle from the copycats is tricky, though so we’ve done it for you.

Description: Acer Iconia Tab A700 - Toshiba AT300-101

Acer Iconia Tab A700 - Toshiba AT300-101

What we tested…

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1

Price: $487 (16GB)

The new Galaxy Tab is cheap, capable and has a great screen so will it finally see Sammy transfer its smartphone dominance to the tablet world?

Acer Iconia Tab A700

Price: $698 (32GB)

This quad-core beast has a full HD 1920 x 1200 screen and more ports than an island nation. It’s also fairly well-priced, so it has to be a contender.

Toshiba AT300-101

Price: $535.5 (16GB)

Toshiba brings a slim form factor, vanilla Android and the might of Tegra 3 to the table. Will that be anough to make it stand out in a crowded field?

Asus Transformer Pad Infinity

Price: $974 (64GB)

If its predecessor the Prime is the best Android slate yet, and the Infinity adds a HD screen, it must surely win this test, right? But then again, $974…

Archos 101 XS Gen 10

Price: $487 (16GB)

The ultra-thin G10 is Archos’ most exciting tablet in ages, with a killer magnetic keyboard as its secret weapon. But can its innards match up to its outards?

What to look for


Plump for full HD if you can afford it, but remember viewing angles and bright displays are also vital when it comes to watching films or using your tab outdoors.


Don’t be put off by small storage capacities – many of these tabs can be expanded with microSD cards and all will work with Google Drive and Dropbox


Some tabs are better served for add-ons than others. Want to add photos from your SLR? Look for an SD slot. Fancy using your wired Xbox controller? Get USB


For tab use minus headphones, good built-in speakers really matter. Watch out for placements which muffle sound, and check how loud they go.

Jargon buster

Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS)

All of the tablets here run ICS, also known as Android 4.0. It’s not the latest OS – 4.1, or Jelly Bean, is out, but not widely available yet. Makers may add their own tweaks to ICS, to varying degrees of usefulness.

CPU/ Processor

The brain of a tablet, now usually composed of multiple ‘core’. For multitasking and intensive gaming, quad-core processors such as Tegra 3 come into their own. For casual browsing and word processing, a dual-core CPU is fine.

Full HD (1080p)

A screen resolution of 1920 x 1080 or 1920 x 1200 pixels. 720p HD is 1280 x 720 or 1280 x 800. Generally, the more pixels, the crisper the screen.


Horizontal: vertical screen ratio. 16:10 is ‘widescreen’, better for movies than reading.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1

Price: $487 (16GB, Wi-Fi)


Samsung may rule the smartphone roost these days, but its latest tablet won’t be ending the iPad’s reign any time soon.


Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1

The Tab 1 is the new version of Samsung’s original iPad ‘killer’ (inverted commas essential in this case), but it isn’t big on actual improvements: it has the same plastic back, the same 1GHz dual-core processing grunt and the same 1280 x 800 screen resolution.

That said, it’s still a decent tablet. It lags a second or two behind the Tegra 3 models in this test, but was plenty fast in our day-to-day usage. As with all Samsungs, it has lovely bright display, with vibrant colors and impressive viewing angles, which helps make up for the fact that it’s not full HD. Its 16GB storage can now be boosted with up to an extra, and Sammy’s useful TouchWiz skin is a nice addition to Ice Cream Sandwich. The 3MP camera isn’t much cop, but you’ll rarely use it anyway.

So, there’s nothing wrong with the well-priced Tab 2 10.1. But neither is it anything special. Given that the iPad has had a significant upgrade since the first Tab’s release, and that the Android competitions is fiercer than ever, it looks slightly outdated here.

Stuff says 4/5 stars

A decent tablet at a great price, but a lack of power and 2011-res screen count against it.

Ports aren’t the Tab 2’s strong point: the microSD card slot is useful, but for USB and HDMI-shaped fun you’ll have to shell out for separate adapters.

The US version of the Tab 2 has an IR blaster up top, so you can use it as a nifty universal remote. Sadly, it’s missing on the UK model. Sucks to the British, eh?

An arrow at the bottom of the TouchWiz homescreen brings up custom widgets such as email. Media hubs also take centre stage for easy buying of games, music and video.

Tech specs

Screen 10.1in, 1280 x 800 PS TFT

CPU Dual-core @ 1GHz, 1GB Ram

Storage 16GB + up to 32GB microSD

Camera 3MP, 720p @ 30fps (rear); VGA (front)

Connectivity 3.5 mm socket, Bluetooth 3.0, Wi-Fi, microSD

Battery 9hrs 15min (tested)

Sound decision

Samsung has enlarged the speakers and moved them to either side of the display, so the sound comes straight at you and won’t be muffed when you put it down. Sensible.

Facing forward, going back

The VGA front camera is actually a step down from the original 10.1’s 2MP forward facing snapper. It’s not a massive deal, but it’s bound to frustrate avid Skypists.

Acer Iconia Tab A700

Price: $698 (32GB)



Acer Iconia Tab A700

The Iconia Tab A700 is a strange beast: it’s stuffed with mightily impressive innards, but they’re wrapped in a dullard design.

Indeed, at first glance you’d think it was a cheapo tab running some ancient Android OS. Compared to its rivals here it’s also heavy and thick set although at 11 mm, not exactly obese, against that it’s got a quad-core Tegra 3 brain, impressive full HD display and Ice Cream Sandwich, making it one of the best-specced Androids out there. As we said, it’s a strange beast.

Fire it up and you’ll be blown away by its 1920 x 1200 display. Viewed head on, it’s fantastic, with 1080p video content in particular looking superb. It’s not quite up there with the Infinity for viewing angles and brightness, but it’s not far behind. Strangely, though, it didn’t run as buttery smooth as we’d expected – with those extra pixels to push, the 1.3GHz Nvidia chip really gets a work-out and we encountered a few hiccups when gaming and using the 5MP camera.

Still, you’ll have no problem using the A700 for movies, working or browsing, and it’s well served for ports, with microSD, microUSB and microHDMI. So if a good screen is your priority and you can’t stretch to the Infinity, it’s your best option.

Stuff says 4/5 stars

Feast your eyes on its HD display rather than its bland design and the A700’s a rather good tab

The A700’s SD slot is handy: a 1080p movie downloaded from a store such as Google Play will use up at least 3GB, so the 32GB of onboard storage will fill up fast

It might not be a looker, but the A700 is one of the most comfortable tablets to hold in landscape mode thanks to its thicker sides and pleasantly textured back.

Hit the colored dot at the bottom of every and the A700 will bring up the Acer ring, a nice UI tweak that shows recent web pages and a few shortcuts.

Tech specs

Display 10.1in, 1920 x 1200 LCD

CPU quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 @ 1.3GHz, 1GB Ram

Storage 32GB + up to 32GB microSD

Camera 5Mp, 1080p (rear), 1MP (rear)

Connectivity 3.5 mm socket, Wi-Fi, microHDMI, microUSB, microSD, Bluetooth 2.1

Battery 8 hrs 33 min (tested)

Carry that weight

If you’re looking for a svelte addition to your manbag, look elsewhere. The A700 is pretty chunky and, at 649g, a full 50g heavier than any of its rivals here.

Speaker no evil

The pair of Dolby-powered speakers at the bottom of the A700 are easily the best in this test. Given the Acer’s equally great screen, it’s a great choice for movie sessions.

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