With today's introduction of the Acer Iconia Tab A100, the 7-inch Honeycomb tablet era begins. Vivek and Jarred looked at the new entrant's big brother, the 10.1" A500, and were left . . . well, a little underwhelmed. Some of their complaints are endemic of everything Honeycomb, so far: occasionally sluggish performance, potentially awkward form factor, bugginess. Some of their complaints, though, were fixed on Acer’s 10.1” tablet itself: questionable build quality, uncompetitive pricing, less than stellar viewing angles. So what does Acer’s diminutive tablet offer up?

If you put the spec sheets for the A500 and the A100 next to each other, it might take you a few minutes to see the difference. In truth, the A100 shares the same SoC, memory, and connectivity with the larger tablet (Tegra 2, 1GB RAM, 802.11 b/g/n). The A100 will also launch with Android 3.2; the A500 recently received the 3.1 update, but 3.2 isn't here quite yet (though it's coming). Where the two models differ is in screen size, ports, and software. The 7” capacitive display is driven by a 1024x600 TFT LCD panel, not inspiring on paper, but if it’s related to the shipping panel in the A500 it can still impress with its visuals, even if the viewing angles aren’t spectacular. The full size USB port of the A500 is omitted, and the HDMI port takes on a mini configuration. By the pictures, the A100’s design looks similar to the A500, but with a decorative rear panel that will be available in multiple colors in the future.

Battery life is quoted at 4.5 hours of video playback, about half of what we saw in the A500, which isn’t surprising given it carries a half-sized battery. Pricing, which has gotten more and more competitive for the A500 is coming in a little higher than expected. Originally rumored to be the first sub-$300 Honeycomb tablet, the 8GB A100 will come in at $329, while a 16GB SKU will retail for $349. (Hooray for 8GB upgrades no longer costing an extra $50+, though!)

Like Samsung, Acer has prepared some tablet optimized software to extend Honeycomb's utility a little further. Social Jogger is their riff on a social media aggregator; it’s currently configured for Facebook and Twitter, hopefully with more services to be added soon. LumiRead is Acer’s e-reader software, complete with book store, and there's also Day Planner. Much of the PR for this device focuses on its utility for families and “modern moms,” in particular. Day Planner is a potentially valuable scheduling app that does more than display your calendar and agenda; it also integrates your e-mail, news, weather, contacts, note taking and, even, mapping services. The use case for this kind of software could be huge, and we will be interested in how good the software turns out.

We’ll update more when we have a sample in-house. Until then peep the gallery and judge the tweaked Iconia design for yourself.

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  • codedivine - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    Yet another Tegra 2 powered Honeycomb tablet. Where are the other SoC makers? Archos (which uses OMAP4) is the only non-Tegra2 Honeycomb tablet that I know of. Any others?
  • melgross - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    I think that for the first round of tablets, Google spec'd the Tegra.
  • JasonInofuentes - Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - link

  • teng029 - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    I like the form factor and the hardware, but 329 is still more than I want to spend on this. Make it sub 300 and now were talking.
  • kylesama - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    The price doesn't matter if Apple bans selling it
  • Pirks - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    Who cares when you have Playbook

  • JHBoricua - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    The real question is, who cares about Playbook?

    We just had our VMware reps. do a presentation on future roadmaps for view 5, their VDI product. They will release clients for several Operating Systems and tablets. Guess which? iPad and Android. When asked about the BlackBerry playbook all they could do was chuckle.

    So much for an enterprise tablet.
  • kylesama - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

  • Pirks - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

  • Pirks - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    Doh, VMWare had no iPad apps either when iPad was just released. Hehe, one solid "argument" here :)) Is that all you got?

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