The A510's capacitive touch screen is responsive, but isn't as sensitive to the touch as the TF300's. Even delicate touches on the TF300 yield responses, but the A510 requires a bit more deliberate interaction. Apps load quickly -- about a hair faster than the TF300 -- and we still get that great, smooth Tegra 3-induced, 60 frames per second screen transition effect when closing apps or swiping through apps and widgets.
Thankfully, apps like the Marvel Comics app are beginning to take advantage of Tegra 3's extra horsepower by offering smoother transitions between panels when reading digital comics. Not quite iPad smooth, as there's still some judder, but smoother than when the Asus Transformer Prime debuted in late 2011.
Thanks to its hardware scalability, I used Riptide GP as a games performance benchmark. Depending on the speed of the tablet's CPU, Riptide GP will deliver a noticeable increase or decrease in frame rate. The A510's frame rates were about identical with the TF300's, approaching 60fps, with the Tegra 3-exclusive screen water splashes in tow. The frame rate feels lower than the iPad's and as much as you may appreciate screen water splash effects (and who doesn't?), the iPad's screen resolution makes the game look demonstrably better than any Tegra 3 version I've seen so far.
Web speeds in the default Android 4.0.3 browser were more or less on par with the TF300 when traveling to the same sites. Not up to iPad speeds, however, as it seems Android tablets are plagued with many more random hangs when surfing the Web than the iPad is. However, when quickly swiping down long Web pages, the A510 scrolled through smoothly and displayed no visible clipping.
To test app download speed, I downloaded Angry Birds Space. The results yielded are an average of three iterations where each iteration per tablet was within 5 percent of each other.
|Asus Transformer Pad TF300||Acer Iconia tab A510|
|Angry Birds Space download speed (in seconds)||15||13|
Looking for a crude, but effective video chat device? The A510's 1-megapixel front-facing camera has your name written all over it, and as with most front-facing tablet cameras, it has little redeemable value beyond that function. The 5-megapixel back camera fares better, delivering fairly clear pictures that still failed to compete with the TF300's 8-megapixel clarity.
720p video recorded with the rear camera washed out colors, lacked detail, and displayed obvious video artifacting. This is a far cry from the clarity delivered by the iPad's and TF300's rear cameras. Thankfully, I was able to play both 720p and 1080p movies from outside sources smoothly with no compatibility or quality issues.
Acer touts the A510's inclusion of Dolby Mobile 3+ with premium 5.1 HD sound, but during my testing, the sound its speakers delivered was low and a bit muffled when compared with the TF300's comparatively bombastic and full audio.
The A510 has a larger-than-usual 9,800MAh battery, but its larger capacity didn't keep it from draining pretty quickly. I left the tablet in sleep mode overnight with Wi-Fi on, with the battery at about 75 percent capacity, and the next morning its battery had drained to 41 percent.
Here are our official CNET Labs-tested battery life results. More tablet testing results can be found here.
|Video battery life (in hours)|
|Acer Iconia Tab A510||11.6|
The A510 is pretty plain-looking, but it's well-built, feels comfortable in my hands, and its expandable storage and Micro-HDMI inclusions are appreciated. Navigation is smooth, games run fast, apps load quickly, and Wi-Fi performance ranks among the best Android tablets.
It includes dual cameras, but there's nothing impressive about them, and the normal LCD screen washes out color and isn't quite as responsive as it could be.
Acer charges $450 for a 32GB, quad-core tablet, and while that would have been impressive even a couple weeks back, now, with the Transformer TF300 out here, you can get the pretty much the same features -- and some nifty exclusive ones -- with better screen performance and better cameras for 50 bucks less.
The A510 isn't a bad tablet by any means and is actually one of the most comfortable tablets I've ever held. It's just difficult to recommend with better-performing, cheaper options out there. However, if you can look past the price and lower quality screen, there's actually a fast and well-designed tablet here.
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