If you are in the market for an alternative to the iPad or Nexus tablet devices, the Acer Iconia Tab 8 provides an interesting array of functions and features at an affordable price.
Within a short period of time, devices such as the Nexus 7 are currently being branded as outdated and are being replaced by higher cost devices such as the Nexus 9 and newer versions of the iPad. However, if you are looking for a tablet option that allows you to work and play on the go without the high price tag, the Acer Iconia Tab 8 may be just what you are looking for.
The Acer Iconia Tab 8 now sports a new look with a silver aluminium back panel and plastic white front bezel which provides the device with a high quality look and feel. The device is built as a uni-body giving the Iconia Tab 8 the appearance of an Apple iPad Mini with an exceptional manufacturing quality that feels great when you hold the device in your hand.
The Iconia Tab 8 frame is constructed of durable metal which adds a bit of weight to the device but provides the appearance and feel of a premium made tablet device. The connectivity ports blend well with the overall aesthetics and design with the power and volume controls located on one side and the other ports strategically placed around the other sides of the device.
The back facing 5MP (megapixel) camera has a slightly raised position that protrudes from the back panel. The front facing 2MP camera is represented by a small dot on the white plastic bezel. A row of triple dots across the back of the device house the speakers which blend well with the design of the quality made back panel.
The construction is sturdy despite the plastic bezel and the bezel is wide enough to provide added convenience when holding onto the device. Although the tablet is not the most lightweight tablet on the market with dimensions of 0.3 x 8.5 x 5.1 inches and a weight of 12.70 ounces, it works fine for holding it while engaging in a few hours of video streaming.
What is the Display Like?
The Acer Iconia Tab 8 is designed with an 8-inch display screen with a 1920 x 1200 275 ppi (pixels per inch) resolution and IPS (In Plane Switching) technology. In benchmark tests, the Iconia Tab 8 display proved to be capable of colour displays of just under 80 percent of the sRGB colour gamut. This is slightly lower than the 85 percent average of other similar tablets on the market but still higher than Asus and Dell tablets at 73 percent.
The Iconia Tab 8 display also provides decent viewing angles to accommodate multiple viewers simultaneously. The images remain clear even when viewing at a 90 degree angle however, this becomes a little more challenging when using the device in sunlit environments.
Acer also added a few new features to the display which include IntelliWake, IntelliSpin, and Split Screen Mode. The IntelliWake feature allows you to easily wake the device out of Sleep Mode simply by pressing all five fingers down on the capacitive touch screen. This gesture must be done while you are holding the device in your hand. The other option is to press both thumbs on either side of the screen as you are picking up the device.
The IntelliSpin feature is designed to allow rotation of the screen orientation when the tablet is positioned on a flat surface. Instead of having to pick up the device to adjust the screen orientation, you can place the screen in the proper direction simply by sliding or shifting it on the flat surface.
Split Screen Mode allows you to make better use of the screen real estate by splitting the screen in two parts to enhance multitasking. When you place the screen in Split Screen Mode you can use email, chat with friends, modify documents, and perform other tasks while watching a video on the other side of the screen.
What are the Specifications?
The Acer Iconia Tab 8 offers pretty decent specifications for the price point. The main specification being the powerful quad-core processing performance which is unusual for a tablet in this price range.
The Acer Iconia Tab 8 is designed with a quad-core Intel Atom Central Processing Unit (CPU) running at 1.33 GHz with 2GB of Random Access Memory (RAM). 2GB of memory is a feature that is included with other tablets on the market but some of the devices such as the Toshiba Encore are only designed with 1GB of RAM. 2GB of RAM is an important factor that contributes to the speedy performance of the Intel Atom processor.
Additionally, the Acer Iconia offers 16GB of storage space which amounts to slightly less than that once you figure in the space that the operating system occupies. However, there is an SD card slot which allows you to expand the storage up to 32GB.
In terms of performance, the Iconia Tab 8 scored in the centre of things when compared to the Asus MeMO Pad 8 and Dell Venue 8. The Iconia topped out at just over 2,255 which is less than the MeMO Pad at just under 2,400 and more than the Dell Venue 8 at 1,470.
In terms of graphics performance, the Acer Iconia Tab 8 scored just under 16,730 which is higher than average. It is also just about equal to the Asus MeMO Pad 8. The Iconia Tab 8 is equipped with a high definition Bay Trail graphics processor.
One of the advantages of the Iconia Tab 8 is the included mini HDMI port which allows you to connect the device to a large screen. HDMI ports are not always included on other tablets of this calibre.
There is also a microSD card slot which handles storage of up to 32GB. Plus, when you use the microSD card slot, you can expand the internal memory by as much as 32GB. You will also find a 3.5mm audio port to accommodate a headset as well.
The Acer Iconia Tab 8 is equipped with Wi-Fi capability that operates on the 802.11 a/b/g/n wireless standard. Although the 802.11ac standard is absent, this isn’t exactly a deal breaker since the ac standard is backwards compatible with the older standards anyway.
You also have access to Bluetooth 4.0 for connecting Bluetooth-enabled devices. Additionally, there is an integrated antenna for GPS capability which has proven to be very effective in determining your current location and helping you to find your way around.
The Acer Iconia Tab 8 is equipped with a rear facing 5MP (megapixel) camera with a 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution. The front facing camera is 2MP and provides a full high definition webcam that provides an array of settings which allow you to adjust it to the lighting in any environment. This makes chatting on Skype and video-conferencing a more pleasant experience.
On the bottom of the Iconia Tab 8 on the rear panel you will find two stereo speakers that provide fairly decent audio quality via a bar with a triple set of holes that extends across the back of the device. Like other tablets on the market, the sound is not outstanding but is acceptable for a portable device. If you want to pump up the sound, you can connect a high quality pair of headphones to the 3.5mm audio jack.
How Much Does it Cost and Can You Justify the Investment?
The Acer Iconia Tab 8 is rather reasonably priced and can be obtained at a cost starting around £130. Depending upon the purpose for which you plan to use the device, the processing performance in addition to some of the other specifications and features we described in this article are more than worth the asking price.
Despite the affordable price, the Acer Iconia Tab 8 is anything but a budget device. The performance and functionality is unparalleled to other tablets on the market that are being offered for less than £50.
What About the Battery Life? How Does it Compare to an iPad or Nexus?
The Acer Iconia Tab 8 is equipped with a one-cell Lithium Ion battery that has a capacity of 4600 mAh. Acer advertises a battery life of up to 7.5 hours when streaming videos and performing other tasks. If you are using the device for a prolonged period of multitasking, you can expect to get just over 6.25 hours of life out of the battery.
The battery in the Iconia Tab 8 is less than the Apple iPad at about nine hours and the Nexus 9 at approximately 8.5 hours. For this reason, if you want to get through an entire day, it is a good idea to carry an OEM charger with you.
What are the Pros and Cons?
There is a lot to like about the Acer Iconia Tab 8 with features and functions that fit your lifestyle and your wallet. To complete the review, here are a few pros and cons:
- The exterior design provides the look and feel of a premium tablet.
- Full high definition display provides you with many hours of viewing pleasure.
- Generous selection of ports and inclusion of a mini HDMI port are a real plus.
- Quad-core processing performance allows you to sail through tasks and applications.
- Microsoft Office is pre-installed for working with documents.
- Affordable price point without sacrificing performance.
- There is an excessive amount of bloatware that is pre-installed on the device.
- Audio quality is average for a tablet device.
- Viewing the screen in sunlit environments is challenging.
- Slightly shorter battery life when compared to similar devices on the market.
Would I Buy One?
There is no doubt that the Acer Iconia Tab 8 has a lot to offer in terms of hardware and performance. The main advantages are the quad-core Intel Atom processor and the full high definition display. Additionally, the quality of the construction is also quite decent with an okay camera that is not designed for professional use but will adequately suit the needs of most users.
On the flip side, there are a broad range of alternative devices out on the market that accommodate a variety of different needs.
THE FINAL VERDICT
Whether or not the Acer Iconia Tab 8 is for you will depend upon the purpose for which you will use the device. Other comparable devices such as the Dell Venue 8 and Lenovo Tab S8 are devices that are similar to the Acer Iconia Tab 8. However, if you can live with a few of the drawbacks, you may find that the Iconia Tab 8 is great value for the price. I would certainly consider it, especially for the hardware capabilities and other positive features.
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