If you want a higher-end Android tablet than can rival the iPad mini, take a look at Acer's Iconia Tab 8, set to arrive in the third quarter. We checked one out ahead of Computex in Taipei on Saturday and came away reasonably impressed with a device that incorporates some more cutting-edge specs but will retail for just €199 (US$270).
The tablet has an 8-inch IPS display with 1920 x 1200 pixel resolution, which means we saw crisp colors and sharp images.
At times, the screen seemed a little dim, even with the brightness set to the maximum. But it does feature a nice touch: an anti-fingerprint coating, which noticeably reduced smudges.
It's got a sturdy feel, since the entire back and sides are covered in metal, but it felt light when held in one hand. The device weighs 360 grams, and is only 8.5 mm thick. As a point of comparison, the iPad mini with Retina display weighs slightly less at 331 grams, and is 7.5 mm thick.
Consumers will get Android 4.4 running on the device, along with one of Intel's latest "Bay Trail" Atom processors, the quad-core Z3745.
Applications and games on the tablet ran fast, and Internet browsing was smooth, with no noticeable difference from other higher-end tablets. Powering up the Iconia Tab 8 only took about 25 seconds. The display didn't always come back to life quickly, sometimes resulting in a one-second delay after pressing the on button.
The good overall performance on the tablet signals that Intel can be a contender in the mobile processor market. But a potential problem is the tablet's battery life, which lasts for only 7.5 hours when watching videos at 720p, according to Acer. Other tablets like the iPad mini have had their battery life tested and shown to last over 10 hours.
The Iconia Tab 8 has dual speakers in the rear bottom of the device. When put on full blast, the speaker volume was loud enough in some cases, but not always, and could benefit from a volume booster.
The tablet also comes equipped with a front and rear camera, but the test shots we took with them didn't impress. The tablet produced grainy photos that newer smartphones could easily improve on.
The Iconia Tab 8 will launch in European markets in mid-July, according to Acer, and will land in the U.S. later in the quarter. It comes with 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and an additional microSD card slot for more memory.
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