Many of the big PC manufacturers are trying to get onboard with the affordable tablet market, and Acer Iconia B1 is one of 2013’s most aggressively priced tablets by a traditional PC manufacturer. Aimed at people who think the Nexus 7 is too much for them, its main rival is the similarly price non-HD Amazon Kindle Fire. This review will look at the specification and what its good for, and also how it compares to the Kindle Fire, and ultimately what would you buy?
The Acer Iconia B1 Specification
The Iconia B1 is a nicely sized 7 inch tablet. It isnt the thinnest tablet around but its not a lump either. The bezel is very similar to the Nexus 7 meaning you can hold it with ease. It feels very similar in profile to the Amazon Kindle Fire too. Processor power is also very similar with both packing 1.2GHz Dual Core units. However the Acer is a better Cortex A9 unit, but this is nothing major on paper (more on this to come). It also sports 512MB RAM and a 1024×600 resolution screen. There is 8GB of on board memory, and unlike Nexus 7 it has got a microSD card to expand the memory size which is a nice feature. And a webcam for Skype.
Software wise it runs the superb Android 4.1 Jelly Bean software, which as you would expect is fast and smooth. The chassis looks good, however at £99 there has to be compromises. This being the plastic screen, which has a bit of flex, however you can forgive it for the price. The brightness is strong, which makes up for this somewhat.
On paper the specifications look a tad weak. Especially the 512MB of RAM. However in reality, Android Jelly Bean is smooth and very responsive. The internet browser works well, as do most apps. But at £99 you cannot expect it to play the latest games. This is where the Acer Iconia B1 has its party trick. Somehow, it can! Running the Unreal benchmark on high you get 25-30fps, not great but certainly playable. Put it to medium and you get 45 frames per second, which is outstanding when you remember £99! Even intensive games like Dead Trigger work smoothly, which is simply incredible as that was one of the first mobile games that had console graphics Now obviously you wont be on High/Ultra detail, but the fact you can play, and play well says huge things about this £99 tablet. Great work Acer. Casual games, Angry Birds etc. work smoothly also so the kids will be happy. There are some tablets out there at £99 that your kids will rightfully throw back at you as they cant even play Angry Birds. The Iconia B1 can satisfy them and you as it can do 3D games more than adequately, nevermind casual ones. You can definitely be productive with this tablet, and have fun too.
How does the B1 compare to the Kindle Fire?
A huge advantage to this Acer over the Kindle Fire is it runs a standard version of Android. This means the full Play Store is available, as is the possibility for customisation. You can personalise it just as much as a Nexus 7. Plus if you want you can download the Amazon app store and still use it as a Kindle. Plus at current prices it saves £30 over the Kindle Fire. The main disadvantage is the Kindle is easier to use for people not used to tablets. Being locked down in a closed eco system as large as Amazon’s does have its advantages, as does Amazons free cloud storage of your books / magazines / videos.
Should You Buy the Acer Iconia B1 or the Kindle Fire?
I think you would be happy with both. If I was buying for my Mum, I would get the Kindle Fire. For kids, the Acer. For myself the Acer also. The gaming potential really shows off some hidden horsepower in this tablet which bodes well for everyday non-gaming usage. There is the argument of spending an extra £59 and getting the Nexus 7, but that is a huge percentage price increase, and I dont think they are targeted at the same market. Plus the fact the Acer can do gaming so well you would have to really want those graphics and the high resolution screen to pay the extra. The Kindle Fire has been around the £100 mark at Christmas but seems to have gone back up to £129 for now. This also has to be factored in, as not only is there this initial price increase, but more apps and games are free on the Play Store than on the Amazon App Store, so the Kindle may cost more in the long run. Saying that, the Kindle Fire has sold millions in the US and will be more supported.
The Android market place has definitely shifted. This time last year for this price you would only get some Chinese brand you have never heard of. Now Acer, Amazon and soon Asus all have got well built, tablets which would suit casual users well and with real UK warranties.
The Acer is a great introduction to tablets, as it provides a frustration free experience, and one you can get as involved in, with customisation etc., as you want. Thanks to its microSD slot it is also great for media. The Acer Iconia B1 is a great budget tablet which carves itself a nice niche at the sub £100 tablet market. Until the Asus comes out, it has to be the only sub £100RRP tablet worth getting.