Gunning for the Acer Iconia A500

JUST two weeks ago, Mr Unplugged, Hadi Mahmud, and I got the first hands on Android's Honeycomb whilst we were in Jakarta.

When scouting for lunch, we accidentally walked in to the Acer Iconia A500 launch at one of the local malls, which was selling at around Rupiah 4.5 million ($660 or so).

While Brunei has the Acer Iconia W500, the Windows 7 version of the tablet, which I did quite like, this first encounter with Honeycomb was ... quite the experience.

First and most importantly, it's cheap, cheaper than the iPad2, which has an 82 per cent market share (research by Nielsen) . Bear in mind that Nielsen's research was done in April and that was just when the iPad's competitors are slowly creeping to get a piece of the pie.

Anyway, back to the Iconia A500, besides the very impressive speed and full multi-tasking capability, Google has made the interface look very very good. It looks so slick and futuristic, one has to really get their hands on it to experience it.

The second thing besides the price I like most, is that the A500 has a proper-sized USB slot.

The list of things you could do with this fabulous gadget include transferring files from pendrive or external harddisk, plug a dongle for Internet wherever you go in the world (this is the wi-fi only version), very easily find a cable to connect to whatever you want to connect it to, and on and on.

USB slots are pretty much what our peripherals connect by these days.

Using the table (left), let's savour the A500's features. The A500 is easy to carry and take (same size as the iPad 2, the benchmark tablet), not to mention it's quite light (lighter than the iPad 2). It also has a fresh looking and easy to learn interface/operating system, and it starts up pretty fast with the Nvidia Tegra 2 processor.

So, it has all those plus a few extras like the aforementioned USB slot, and it also has a micro-USB slot and an HDMI port. What the promotional booth did so wisely, was to connect all the test models to a 32-inch TV, with applications like Open Office or games and movies open, to let you see what you can achieve with a HDMI port.

Personally, you might not always need or use the HDMI port, but having it there in case you need it, is always good. Less does not equal more, especially in the case of ports.

One thing that the Iconia A500 loses out on, is the feel and touch of the cover.

Not the screen, mind you, because it has an extremely responsive one, but the body of the tab felt somewhat plastic-like, which gives the impression that it's not as solid. The video capabilities of the tab is not something to boast about as well, but you do get 1080p later this year.

The A500's innovation is the different ways you can touch the screen. If you do certain gestures or hold your fingers on the screen in certain ways, it leads to a number of options like starting up the Acer Ring or Acer's clear.fi.

Acer's clear.fi technology, which is intended to provide the user with seamless integration to easily access, play and share multimedia across the home network and to instantly publish updates to social media networks.

With the local Acer dealer churning out new products like they are, I hope to see the A500 launched in Brunei at a reasonable price. So if you're eagerly awaiting a Honeycomb tablet which is affordable, the A500 will do you just that.

 -The Brunei Times/Asia News Network