Oh, the disappointment. I’ve been doing some work on a media project for Android tablets, so picked one up and was hoping to be able to rave. Such is not the case.

The hardware: Acer A500 Iconia (good luck with the link, it appears that Acer has problems with keeping websites up too).

The Good:
  • screen is excellent.
  • I’m a fan of the Honeycomb interface, it is intuitive and flexible. Enough said.
  • the Apps are great, and just keep coming. Pulse has changed the way I consume news, and my perception of what news is
The Bad:
  • Wifi: there is no way to be nice about this – the wireless capabilities of this device are a joke. Tablets are all about being on the internet, and wifi is the only connection type possible with the A500. The reception of wifi on this device is so weak that you had better be ready to track down whatever router you are connecting to and sit right beside it. There is no excuse for the pathetic performance. I’ve tested this on many, many wifi routers, and compared it to Windows and Mac laptops and an LG Android smartphone in the exact conditions, and the simple fact is that the Acer A500 has extremely poor wifi reception. So poor that the device has proven unusable to me in a number of travel situations. I have a hard time believing that this could have slipped through Acer’s QA – performance is so poor that it could not possibly have flown under the radar during testing. Fool me once, shame on me.
  • File Tranfer and MTP: it’s Google’s turn to take a bow for embarrassing design decisions. They decided to use MTP for their underlying file transfer protocol. Great if you run Windows, not so great for Mac Users. This is not a problem specific to the A500, but all Android tablet users get to share this if they run a Mac. I’ve tried the “File Expert” solution mentioned at the link above, and it seems okay at first blush. Large files are still problematic, however (do you want to watch a movie? I guess you might based on Acer’s marketing of the device.)

The Lowdown:
Tablets are about the internet. They require strong connectivity, and flexibility in file transfer. I make my living dealing with computers, and have spent many hours trying to get this platform to work consistently for me and have little to show for my efforts. If you have to buy a tablet in the near future get an iPad, or be prepared for hours of hacking and frustration.