Saturday, April 9, 2011

Acer Offers $449 Iconia Tab A500 Tablet at Best Buy

As Best Buy stores hold back Apple's iPad 2, Acer is introducing the Iconia Tab A500 at $449, exclusively at Best Buy. Like Motorola's Xoom, the Iconia Tab A500 is powered by Android 3.0 Honeycomb and has a 10.1-inch touchscreen. But neither Acer's Iconia Tab A500 nor Motorola's Xoom can even come close to the apps available for Apple's iPad 2.

After losing its CEO, Acer is hoping it will find success with its latest mobile device Relevant Products/Services. Acer made its first tablet Relevant Products/Services equipped with Android 3.0 Honeycomb available for pre-order at Best Buy amid rumors that Apple was unhappy with Best Buy for holding back iPad Relevant Products/Services 2s.

The Acer Iconia Tab A500 is a 10.1-inch touchscreen tablet. The only other tablet on the market running Honeycomb is the Motorola Xoom, which isn't putting a dent in Apple iPad sales.

"The biggest problem with Honeycomb right now is the lack of tablet-specific apps," said Avi Greengart, an analyst at Current Analysis. "So having additional options on the market will hopefully increase the install base, and that should entice developers to either rewrite their apps for the large form factor or create entirely new apps specifically for the platform."

Is it Magical?

Sumit Agnihotry, vice president of product marketing for Acer America, didn't mention apps. Instead, he did his best to paint a picture to help the Iconia stack up against what Apple CEO Steve Jobs calls the "magical" device that is the iPad. Agnihotry used many more words, including performance-minded, sleek, stylish, intuitive and fluid.

Spec-wise, the Iconia is up to par with what's on the market. The tablet offers a Nvidia Tegra 250 one-gigahertz dual-core processor and an integrated GeForce GPU that lets users do HD gaming, 1080p video Relevant Products/Services, faster browsing, and run multiple applications and digital media playback at the same time.

The Iconia weighs 1.69 pounds and measures 0.52 inches thick. It offers forward- and rear-facing cameras to capture videos and photos, and for video conferencing. It offers Wi-Fi connections and is exclusively available through Best Buy. The price, however, could be the most compelling feature at $449.

Where's the Apps?

But what good is a $449 tablet with a handful of apps? As Greengart sees it, apps are a critical reason people buy tablets.

"If all people want to do is check e-mail and surf the Internet, then pretty much any tablet -- even the Android 2.2 tablets -- can perform that function reasonably well," he said. "Where the iPad truly excels -- beyond its brand and physical design, which is impeccable -- is by having 65,000 tablet-specific apps and counting for the iPad, which makes it a lot more versatile than anything else out there."

Acer is also billing Iconia as a tablet that supercharges mobile high-definition entertainment. But the device maker didn't mention how it will deliver that content to the tablet. That, Greengart said, is probably because the content isn't available.

"Content is an area where Samsung is making some strides with Media Hub. The selection is improving. It's nowhere near what Apple offers, but at least provides a quick and legal way of moving movies and television shows onto the device," Greengart said. "Even if the selection is somewhat limited, certainly in some categories they have a fairly reasonable selection. But on Honeycomb right now, those options don't exist."

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