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Acer Iconia A1: $169 7.9-inch Android tablet

Acer Iconia A1

The budget 7-inch Android tablet landscape’s getting awfully crowded, but that’s not stopping Acer. The newly announced Acer Iconia A1 starts at $169, underlining this category’s role as the “Netbook-of-the-moment,” but that’s no longer a unique selling point: many other similar tablets have similar prices, including the HP Slate 7, Lenovo IdeaTab A6000, and even the Kindle Fire.

The Iconia A1 has a solid-feeling and reasonably attractive if thick plastic design (0.44 inch, weighing 0.9 pound), with a white back. It’s reminiscent of the Nexus 7, but the difference here is a 7.9-inch, 4:3 IPS display (1,024×768 pixels), the same size and resolution as the display on the iPad Mini. This should be a big help with PDFs and e-reading, since it’s more like the dimensions of a sheet of paper.

A quad-core 1.2GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, and a smallish amount of either 8GB or 16GB onboard storage fits the bill for “budget,” but there are some decent extras. The Iconia A1 runs Android Jelly Bean 4.2, and has a built-in 3G option in addition to b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. Front- and rear-facing cameras shoot at 0.3 megapixel (640×480, 30 frames-per-second video) and 5 megapixels (1080p 30fps video), respectively. An expandable microSD slot supports up to an extra 32GB of memory. There are Micro-USB and HDMI ports. Gyroscope and GPS are included.

The Acer Iconia A1-810 with 16GB of memory will be available in June for $199, or $169 for the 8GB version. Based on its aggressive feature set and fuller screen, it could merit some consideration in a crowded field.