Also, while it features the bare-minimum capabilities of all other post-Honeycomb Android tablets, it actually loses two features many Android tablet owners take for granted: a rear camera and an HDMI port.
Still, it can be yours for only $330 (for the 8GB model; $350 for 16GB), making it the cheapest noncontract buy-in to Honeycomb/ICS yet.
Whether that distinction actually makes it special enough to buy is up to you and your needs.
The Iconia Tab A200 marks Acer's third major tablet design after the A500/A501 and A100 releases. Compared with the A500/A501, the A200 is slightly thinner and lighter, with a sleeker, less boxy look.
|Acer Iconia Tab A200||Acer Iconia Tab A501||Asus Transformer Prime||Samsung Galaxy 10.1|
|Weight in pounds||1.56||1.7||1.32||1.24|
|Width in inches (landscape)||10.2||10.2||10.3||10.1|
|Height in inches||6.9||6.9||7.1||6.9|
|Depth in inches||0.48||0.49||0.32||0.34|
|Side bezel width in inches (landscape)||0.69||0.77||0.8||0.8|
The tablet has a 10.1-inch capacitive touch screen, with a 2-megapixel camera on the front. Unfortunately, there's no back camera, a fact sure to disappoint those accustomed to dual-camera tablets. And by "those," I mean pretty much everyone.
The A200 sports what's probably the most adhesive back I've seen or rather felt on a tablet, doing an effective job of keeping the tablet firmly in my hands. The tablet is available in two different color schemes: a gray-backed version and one with a strawberry-red back.
Tablets with corners that don't dig into your hands as you hold them always earn points on the comfort scale. The A200, with its smooth, rounded corners, is comfortable to hold over extended periods and likely won't give you blisters.
For connections, the A200 has Micro-USB and full USB, and a microSD card slot (for cards of up to 32GB) is concealed behind a small door. It also has a headphone jack, a volume rocker, a rotation lock switch, a power/lock button, and a small pinhole-style AC adapter input hole. Unlike the A500, it doesn't have a Micro-HDMI port, unfortunately.
Acer is known for including its own unique software touches in its tablets, and the A200 is no exception. From the lock screen, Acer adds the option of swiping to one of four customizable app shortcuts--useful for getting to those much-used apps quickly.
The A200 also sees the debut of Acer Ring, an app shortcut and carousel-like bookmark hub that appears after you tap the green ring symbol at the bottom of the screen. Each bookmark or app is completely customizable, allowing you to include up to four apps and as many bookmarks as you like.
While this would seem useful, accessing apps the normal way is already so quick and easy that adding an extra step puts you that much further from your goal. To be fair, we're talking about mere seconds here, but it does add up.
Clear.fi and Media Server work in tandem to aggregate media on your network and stream media to and from the A200.
Ice Cream Sandwich
The tablet comes preinstalled with Honeycomb 3.2.1 and is upgradable to Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS). ICS is the latest version of Android and is more of an evolution of Honeycomb than something that feels completely different. There are a few notable differences, however.
UI and widgets: On the home screen, Google has slightly changed the way we access widgets. Honeycomb had a little shortcut at the top of the screen, or you could press and hold the home screen, but now widgets have been grouped with apps.
Tapping the apps shortcut now brings you to a dual apps-and-widgets section, each with its own tab. Also, swiping through your apps will eventually bring you to widgets. This change is subtle; widgets now feel less hidden and more important than before because of it.
One of the most annoying things about Honeycomb notifications is the way they can pile up, requiring you to close each individual one to get rid of them. Fortunately, ICS lets you kill them all in one fell swoop and let the tablet gods sort it out. Also, instead of simply showing you the last message you've received, ICS consolidates all mail notifications into one, displaying the number of new messages you have.
Settings: With settings you'll notice right off the bat that things are subtly different, with no real huge changes, just a few useful refinements. Options have now been split into four sections: Wireless and networks, Device, Personal, and System. Some features that were crammed in with others in Honeycomb now have their own sections.