Iím a gadget-nut. Ever since I first seen a TV-watch as a kid, I have had an addiction for portable things that were capable of playing video. While I have never actually owned such a watch, I have been around long enough to remember gadgets like the Apple Newton, 3Com Palm Pilot, Psion, Philips Velo all the way through the latest tablets such as the Iconica A100.
DVD Catalyst was born out of the need for a video conversion tool for my then brand-new HP iPaq 2210 PocketPC, back in 2003, and I have been working with mobile video ever since. During the 8+ years I have been doing this, I have build up an extensive collection (dvdcatalyst's profile - gdgt ) of gadgets, and while most of them donít get much use anymore, I still have them and play with them once in a while.
Every now and then I get emails from people who would like to hear my opinion on certain gadgets and tablets available in the market. While I donít consider myself an expert on everything tablet-related, I do have some experience in finding the right products based on certain usage scenarios, and of course thanks to my work with DVD Catalyst, I get a lot of input from users using a multitude of different devices.
I donít use any of the devices I have to their maximum capabilities (ok the laptops do get maxed out, but Iíll write something about that another time) but because I have a bunch of different brands and models, I believe that, in my own usage scenario, I can give an honest review on them. Most of the reviews on the web are biased because they receive ďsample unitsĒ to play with, or a particular brand is favored for one reason or another, but for me, I actually have to purchase my gadgets like anyone else. I pre-ordered the Kindle Fire from Amazon, I purchased the Xoom in a Verizon store, ordered the Playbook from Staples online, no discounts, no hand-outs.
As mentioned in the last (23) newsletter, the latest addition to my collection is the Acer A100 Iconica Tablet, and I love it.
Physical size. I could just throw in numbers here, but in reality, what is the use? A simple comparison of similar sized tablets gives a better indication in my opinion.
The A100 is slightly smaller than the Blackberry Playbook and the NOOKcolor. Even though all 3 have the same screen size (and resolution), the Acer is about half an inch skinnier than the other 2. The thickness is about the same for all 3, but because of the rounded back, the Acer feels a bit thinner. The weight of all 3 feels about the same though. One of the things a few reviewers are griping about is that the A100 has a fancy Acer logo with a wave image on the back, but, it is on the back, so does it really matter? You look at the screen, so you donít see it anyway.
Usage: The A100 feels snappy. Things feel a bit more smooth to me than on the Xoom, which I guess is related to the lower resolution of the screen. Both the Xoom and the Acer have similar hardware inside, so most of the overall use is the same.
For me, the main reason for picking up the Acer A100 was its size. I already have a 10″ Honeycomb Tablet, the Xoom, so picking up a Thrive, Transformer or an A500 just doesnít really add anything extra (the Thriveís full-size USB and HDMI ports are tempting though), but the smaller form-factor of the A100 makes it a lot more portable. The size is one of the things I like the most about the NOOKcolor and the Playbook, however, both do have some limitations. The Playbook, well, Iím getting sick of dealing with the issues I ran into with the Wifi, and the NOOKcolor, while still one of my favorite devices, has its limitations in terms of apps, and a picky touch screen, so having a ďmini-XoomĒ like the A100 is perfect for me.
Of course my main use is video playback, and it holds up great. While it is a bit smaller than the Xoom, it actually gives me a better view of the video. I usually watch my movies while laying on bed, and with the Xoom I had to set it back a bit. With the Acer, Iím more up-close, and the screen looks very nice and a bit more vivid than that of the Xoom. The Playbook still has the best screen for me though.
Iíve played quite a few Xoom-formatted movies on it (720p) without any playback issues.
While my own usage for my tablets is a bit limited, I do enjoy the A100 a lot. Especially if I have to go somewhere, any of the other tablets I have are either too big or too limited in some form, and the Acer just sits right in there. While for a couple of bucks more you can get a nice 10″, if mobility is one of the deciding factors for your purchase, donít rule out the A100.