Android 3 Deal of the Year: Acer Tab for Under $300

We’ve never done back-to-back reviews of similar devices, but this week’s Target ad changes all of that. As you might expect, Acer has covered all of the bases with their entry into the dual-core Android 3 tablet sweepstakes. You may recall that we weren’t huge fans of the Motorola Xoom which promised a lot and delivered a boatload of vaporware. The Acer Iconia Tab A500 is not the Xoom. You not only get a microSD slot and Flash that actually work, but Acer has thrown in an HDMI port that can output 1080p video as well as a USB port that lets you connect your favorite USB devices including external hard disks. It performs this magic with an 8-10 hour battery life. And this week (only at Target) you can pick up this WiFi-only device for half the cost of the Motorola Xoom. In fact, after the gift card, it’s only a dollar more than the single-core Vizio Tablet that we reviewed last week.

Update: See the comments for equivalent deals just announced at NewEgg and CompUSA.

It’s difficult to describe the feel of the Acer Tab. Suffice it to say, it’s dimensions coupled with its sleek and sculpted design put it in the league with the iPad2 unlike the Xoom which felt chunky and clunky despite being an ounce lighter than the Acer.

As we mentioned last week, we don’t dive too deeply into the technical weeds in our reviews. If you want the technical assessment, check out this PC World review. What we prefer to evaluate is real-world usage of these devices. The Acer Tab has stunning performance. In addition to reading email and browsing the web, here’s the suite of applications which we think matter to most folks. We want to watch videos from YouTube and NetFlix. We want to stream music from Google Music and Spotify and read our Kindle books. We like to use Skype. And, yes, we also like Flash video support which works perfectly on the Acer tablet.

In addition to running Android 3, the Acer Tab boasts impressive hardware specs running a 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 250 dual-core processor with 1GB of RAM and 16GB of ROM. Add another 32GB easily with the microSD slot. The 10.1-inch tablet has a 1280-by-800 pixel display with a 16:10 aspect ratio that’s perfect for HD video content. We always prefer testing devices with real-world video content that we’ve shot so we can compare it to performance on other devices. Our Pawleys Island Parade video didn’t disappoint. It’s performance and color were as good or better on the Acer Tab than on Apple’s top-of-the-line 27″ iMac featuring a quad-core 2.93 GHz Core i7 processor with 8GB of RAM plus L2 and L3 cache. The same can be said with playback of complex Flash video. Netflix unfortunately is still a few weeks off although rooted Acer devices reportedly run it just fine.

On the music front, it doesn’t get much better than the Acer Tab. With Google Music or Spotify, the music world is your oyster. And the silver lining is that the Acer Tab is the one and only device that includes Dolby Mobile audio. Once you adjust the equalizer to match your taste in music, you’ll have sound quality to match that 20-pound boombox gathering dust in your basement.

In the communications department, Skype performed well although video calls are not yet supported. That’s unfortunate given the impressive specs on the Acer Tab’s two cameras. The Iconia Tab has a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera with flash in addition to a 2-megapixel front-facing camera for video conferencing. Finally, making and receiving free phone calls using either an Asterisk® server with CSipSimple or Google Voice using a $50 Obihai device and the free ObiON client for Android both worked great.

There’s only one word you’ll need to remember to take advantage of this Target deal: H-U-R-R-Y! This is a one-week only special, and Target offers no rainschecks. So call around until you find one. You won’t be sorry. And, as usual, Target offers a 90-day, no questions asked return policy which is second to none.

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Our Favorite Android Apps. We’ve listed a few of our favorite apps below for those just getting started with Android. Enjoy!


Originally published: Tuesday, August 16, 2011




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8 Responses to “Android 3 Deal of the Year: Acer Tab for Under $300”

  1. Vince says:

    Newegg.com is now offering this deal as well with a newegg gift card.

    I suspect it wont be long before it will be a straight price drop.

    I had trouble with echo on my vizio using voip apps. I wound up using the grooveip app to run google voice. Works perfectly.

    [WM: Thanks for the tips. NewEgg is one of our favorite suppliers, and it includes free shipping. GrooVe IP is a fantastic application, and an incredibly easy Google Voice solution on the Android platform. Best $5 you could spend.]

  2. adorah says:

    I just entered the Target web site and it seems the price now is 399$. FYI

    [WM: You have to purchase it at a store to get the $100 gift card. Or see the link above to purchase it from NewEgg on line.]

  3. ward says:

    CompUSA now has the same deal… but only for in-store purchases.

  4. Bestbuy stores and BestBuy.com have this deal now as well.

    [WM: Looks like it may be today only as the Deal of the Day. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow. :-) ]

    [WM: Good News! Deal of the Day language has vanished this morning, but the deal is still there.]

  5. ward says:

    Office Depot now has joined to party, too.

  6. ward says:

    We interrupt this Deal of the Year to bring you HP’s Fire Sale on the HP ToucPad. $99 for the 16GB unit and $149 for the 32GB model. Get the latest news at SlickDeals.

  7. Ryan says:

    Bought the A500 per this thread. Pretty nice. Not sure it can play with with Ipad 2 w/3g but it is great for a wifi bound end user. Always like to play around with Android to see if it has caught up with iOS. Getting closer. Interested in Ice Cream.

  8. Mark says:

    Target deal is now dead in Albany, CA. I called and they say that the gift cert -100 deal was last week only

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