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Acer Iconia Tab A501 Pro Released — Now With 3G


Flyer received advertising the release of the A501 Pro

Up until today we’ve only been able to buy the Wifi version of the Acer Iconica  A500 Android tablet here in Australia, but this info received today has announced the availability of the 3G version.

It’s called the Acer Iconia Tab A501 Pro, and the only difference I can see from the A500 is the addition of 3G. Quad band by the looks of it with HSDPA+.

Many of the recently released tablets such as the Acer Iconia Tab A100, the Asus Eee Pad Transformer and the Toshiba Thrive have been WiFi only. The Samsung Galaxy Tab, the iPad, and a few others have an advantage over these competitor tablets with both WiFi and 3G options. I have felt the loss of it when I moved to the Eee Pad Transformer. Connecting to a MiFi style device or a wireless network is ok when you have time, but nothing beats the simplicity of integradted mobile broadband in my opinion. It’ll hit the shops for around $650 without a contract for the 16GB version, starting tomorrow.

GSM/GPRS: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
UMTS: 850/900/1900/2100 MHz
HSDPA+: 21 Mbps peak download rating. Actual speeds are less (typical download speeds 550 kbps – 8 Mbps)^
DIMENSIONS: 260mm x 177mm X 13.3mm
WEIGHT: 760 grams
SCREEN: 10.1′ widescreen multi touch display (1280 x 800)
USAGE TIME: Up to 10 hours mobile web surfing, up to 9 hours video on Wi-Fi or listening to music
STANDBY TIME: Up to 250 hours

Why I Chose the Eee Pad Transformer over the Iconia W500 Tablet

Two devices recently stood out as a different kind of productivity solution, both offering the ability to convert between a tablet and a netbook. The choice is between the Asus Eee Pad Transformer and the Acer Iconia W500.  The Eee Pad runs Android Honeycomb while the Acer runs windows 7.

Both offer the ability to convert from a 10 inch tablet to a laptop style device with a keyboard and mouse. The Asus has a multitouch trackpad while the Acer has a pointing stick style mouse mover.

The units are comparable in features, specs and pricing. The main difference? Windows versus Android, and perhaps battery life. 4 hours for a tablet is pretty ordinary and no where near the Eee Pad’s 10 to 17 hours as a tablet or attached to the dock.

I miss OneNote and that makes me consider Windows tablets but while I could handle 3-4 hours battery life in the old days I’ve now been spoiled by modern day tablets and even netbooks or smaller latops like the Vaio T series which give 7+ hours easily and sometimes more than 10.

Evernote on Android has come a long way as well and while it lacks some of OneNote’s Office suite integration it is now a much more powerful note-taking tool.

One design issue is that the Acer W500 cannot be folded like a laptop while joined to the dock.You have to detach the tablet part, close the docking connector and then clip the tablet over the keyboard. It seems a little ill thought out and since we’re so used to closing up our devices in this way, it may lead to damage.

I disagree with reviews that argue Windows 7 isn’t touch or tablet friendly and in fact I’d say it is the best windows yet for tablet and touch use. But the Iconia doesn’t have a an active or pen enabled screen. It’s capacitive touch and that removed the last killer feature that would have made me buy it. The strength for me of OneNote on a tablet (and even Office as a suite) is that you can ink in it. Without the ability to use a “proper” pen, the Iconia W500 becomes just another tablet, with less battery life and all the issues of Windows including susceptibility to hacking and virus attacks and lacking the advantages of cheap, productivity enhancing apps. So it’s the Asus transformer for me.


Acer’s $450 Iconia Tab A500 Tablet Reviewed

The days of highly priced, unaffordable tablets may well and  truly be numbered. The Acer Iconica Tab A500 has landed in the US market with prices starting at $450 for the WiFi model running Android 3.0 exclusively through BestBuy online.  This affordable price makes it more attractive to the budget conscious tablet buyer who may be looking at alternatives to the more expensive Motorola Xoom (WiFi only model) which has the equivalent hardware specifications.

Sean Hollister from Engadget has written up a comprehensive review of the Icon Tab A500 and provided a picture gallery.  He likes the brushed aluminum casing which gave the Acer a stylish edge over those tablets with plastic casings but was disappointed at some build quality issues such as the back creaking when squeezed with his fingers.

Listen to our Acer Iconia A500 hands-on podcast here.

Hollister seemed happy with the HDMI video connection and described it as “performing a full, responsive display mirroring at 720p resolution, albeit suffering from a bit of overscan. (Acer says 1080p video-out will be supported in a Q2 update) inch. He found the stereo speakers to be acceptable, the 10.1 inch, 1280×800 TFT LCD display surprisingly good and the capacitive touchscreen to be very responsive.  I think this a very encouraging trait in the A500 as more affordably priced tablets that I have used and reviewed has disappointed in both screen quality and responsiveness.

The reviewer seem pleased with performance of the A500’s Tegra 2 with 1GB of DDR3 RAM when it performed slightly faster than the Motorola Xoom during his benchmark testing.

What appeared to be the biggest disappointment of the A500 to the reviewer was the battery life.  Hollister describes the battery life as the shortest (6hr 55 mins using Engadget’s standard battery drain test) of all of the Android Honeycomb tablets Engadget has reviewed.  I am equally surprised as the Acer spots a pair of 3260mAh batteries, which puts it on par with other tablets such as the iPad and Xoom in terms of battery life.

From a pricing perspective, I feel that Acer has drawn first blood in launching an affordable Android 3.0 tablet with decent specifications that rivals the popular Motorola Xoom.  The A500 will certainly face stiff competition from Asus eeePad Transformer which is cheaper at $400 and features an innovative design with its optional keyboard dock.

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