I’ve found that when pondering adding a tablet to your tech gadget repertoire, the most difficult question to answer is often “why:” Why do you need one? Why get a device that only does passably well what your laptop or phone already does? These questions hover around the notion of trying to determine what niche a tablet truly serves.
I’m not saying that tablets don’t have a purpose; I’ve owned several of them across multiple brands and ecosystems. I have my opinions of what makes a good tablet, but most importantly, what makes a tablet good—and what makes it inferior to the rest. It is for this reason that the “value” tablet market is a puzzling one to me. If we forget for a few moments who is best served by value tablets, it would be practical to come up with a set of criteria around choosing one value tablet over another. In this case, the Acer Iconia One 10 is everything I expect out of a less-expensive, cheaply built, low-end tablet. The reality is, for whoever may be looking for a device like this one, the availability of inexpensive options, accompanied by lackluster specs, make for a very underwhelming tablet experience.
Unfortunately, my impression of a “good” tablet is ruined by the likes of Apple’s iPad Pro and Microsoft’s Surface, or any of the smattering of higher-end Samsung Android tablets available at your local Best Buy. And because those higher-end tablets make for such a great experience, anything less is infuriating and a waste of time (and money).
So, what you get out of the box with this one is among the lowest specs you can find: a 10.1” 1200×800 IPS display, 1GB of RAM, Android 6.0 pre-installed (with a little of Acer’s bloat-ware apps included), a 1.3GHz quad-core processor, 32GB of onboard storage (expandable via Micro SD card), a front-facing 2MP camera paired with a 5MP rear-facing camera, and an 802.11 a/b/g/n wireless card with Bluetooth 4.0. It is literally the bare-minimum specs for anything that you should ever consider buying in this market.
Upon start-up, I tried doing what you normally do with a phone or tablet: download Facebook, Imgur, a few of the other standard social media apps, and install those. And…it…was…HORRIBLE. It took forever! I rebooted device after the initial setup (which, for the record, took WAY too long for the under-powered processor and memory), and finally got Facebook installed—but quickly gave up on that because the 1200×800 display doesn’t really give me a good experience with whatever Tasty video I was trying to watch on Facebook in that particular viewing. At which point, I realized I had a nearly useless tablet that I had to find a use for (other than propping up a table leg and getting rid of that wobble). I’ve not written reviews on tablets before—but it concerns me that after only a handful of paragraphs, I’ve already told you everything there is to know about this device—with the exception of the pair of front-facing speakers (which, by the way, are a good match to the already boring specs).
Quick disclaimer: This is NOT a review about Android 6.0, or Google’s ecosystem…it is about a tablet which, at very best, doesn’t really compete on any level with even the more inexpensive tablets available ad-supported through Amazon. But, we’ll get to my recommendation later.
The “who” of this article is a fun part of the story. I’m a practical guy; I’m resourceful and I don’t want even an inexpensive tablet to go to waste. Both my kids have 2nd generation iPad Mini’s, which blow this thing out of the water, so I couldn’t even pawn it off on them. Instead, I found a decent “uni-tasker” use for it ONLY as a media-consuming device: specifically, YouTube videos which run fine, and streaming content through an app called Kodi which requires very little by way of specs to deliver acceptable results. The battery life is good enough that I can charge it every few days based on an hour or two of use here and there.
Keep in mind, though, that I already watch YouTube videos and stream content through Kodi on my laptop—so it’s not even a grand slam for that purpose—but it certainly does have value in that it reduces the spend on my laptop’s battery, and is light enough to carry around or hold in bed while watching. Another really nice (albeit extremely inexpensive) thing about this tablet is the included “Acer Tripod,” which is a flat-folding stand that works well for the tablet, but can just as easily be used for a smart phone. This is a really nice accessory to include with the cost of purchase; it doesn’t make it totally worth it, but it certainly makes a little of the pain go away.
If you’re looking for a good mainstream tablet, steer clear. If you are looking for a first-time tablet for your kids, this might be an OK choice provided they are still relatively young (at most, 5 years old). I know that seems crazy, but the standards for tablets are too high nowadays for this to be a good buy.
The notion of “when” to buy this is precluded by the fact that you probably shouldn’t. But, rest assured, if you don’t, the over-saturated Android tablet market will continue to be over-saturated, and in 6 months to a year from now, you’ll be able to throw away your money on some similarly priced and spec’d device.
So, it probably shouldn’t surprise you that, based on the above, I give the Acer Iconia One 10 tablet only one star out of five. I can force it to serve some purpose in my life, but for most I think it’s low-end specs would be more frustrating than is worth it, even if you end up paying a little less than a higher-end tablet. I most definitely would NOT recommend this for anyone else.