Take One Tablet

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I had been waiting for the right moment to jump into the tablet market but that market would not wait for me. After doing a personal technology refresh by purchasing a Macbook Pro and Motorola Atrix, I felt it was time for me to slow down a bit. Also, I have been waiting for the iPad that I wanted and I thought the iPad 2 was not quite it. Android tablets, while arousing my curiosity, just did not have what I wanted as far as apps were concerned plus I still have a considerable investment in iOS apps from my time with the iPhone. Also, I thought Android tablets were overpriced for what you got. Then why am I writing this post on a Acer Iconia A500 Android tablet? Like the Godfather always says, "Give him an offer he can't refuse!" In this case the Godfather was Staples. Earlier this week I noticed the Acer tablet was on sale at Best Buy for $396 which got my attention and started researching the device. I was surprised at what the Iconia had under the hood and the positive reviews it got from users and critics alike. A couple days later, Staples had a coupon for $100 off any tablet. Staples listed the Iconia for $399. So with the coupon the tablet is now down to $299. I found a way to snatch up this deal.

This is the third Acer product I have owned and I had great experiences with a desktop and netbook that gave me a lot of years of service. After purchasing my tablet I went to Barnes & Noble to set it up. Fortunately, a table next to an outlet was available. So I pluged it in and started the setup process. The 10.1 inch high resolution screen looks good and with a NVIDIA Tegra 2 Dual Core processor and 1 GB of RAM it is pretty fast. This tablet has not one but two USB ports, a micro and 2.0 port to connect to a computer, additional storage, or other peripherals. The Acer tablet also has a micro-HDMI connection and can mirror displays which is nice and something my Atrix can only do if I pay AT&T more money. The Android 3.0 "Honeycomb" operating system is a bit different than the 2.2 found on the Atrix but comparing a phone to a tablet is a bit unrealistic. The 5.0 rear facing and 2.0 front facing cameras do a great job at taking pictures but still wonder why a tablet needs a rear facing camera except for classroom activities. Another feature that impresses me is the ability to add a 32 GB micro SD card to the 16 GB of storage Acer put in the tablet. The iPad does not have these specs!

There are a couple drawbacks with the Iconia. First, the thing is heavy for a tablet. Much heavier and thicker than the iPad all tablets are compared to. Also, with all of the USB ports the Iconia has, you would think you can charge the tablet but no. Guess I will have to pack another charger whenever I take this tablet on the road. Fortunately, the Iconia has up to 8 hours of battery life so I won't have pull that charger out too often.

How would this work in schools? If promised updates to all tablets that will intergrate them to Android phones comes then it could be a good device. It quickly and easily found the wi-fi signal at Barnes & Noble. There are enough apps in the Marketplace for students to do a wide variety of activities. I am actually drafting this post on the Blogger app which is free to download. The typing experience is pretty good in the widescreen mode but is a bit award and hard in portraite mode due to size and weight of this tablet. Also, because of the weight, this tablet won't be replacing my Nook anytime soon as an ereader. If manufactures can produce tablets like this consistantly for under $300 then we have an economical way for students to purchase technology.Given that I was able to get this tablet on a near impulse purchase, the Acer Iconia and other Android tablets will probably finding their way into schools this fall or the next. Are we ready to welcome them?