Acer's new low-cost Android and Windows tablets target budget-minded buyers seeking entry-level hardware.
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Acer unveiled three tablets Friday -- two that run Google's Android operating system and one that runs Microsoft's Windows 8.1. All three tout small screens and low prices for budget-minded buyers.
The Acer Iconia A1-830, the first of the Android pair, features a 7.9-inch, 1,024x768 LCD screen with in-plane switching technology. Acer says the 4:3 aspect ratio panel offers viewing angles of up to 178 degrees. The tablet is powered by an Intel Atom Z2560 1.6-GHz processor with 1 GB of RAM, which Acer says delivers enough oomph for gaming, video playback, and fast multitasking. Other specs include 16 GB of onboard storage with support for microSD memory cards, dual speakers for stereo sound, a five-megapixel camera with 1,080p HD video capture, Bluetooth, and WiFi.
The A1-830 is crafted from aluminum to give it strength and a more premium feel. The device, which measures 8.15 mm thick and weighs 0.84 pounds, will offer 7.5 hours of battery life. It runs Android 4.2.1 and will be available in Europe first at the end of February for €169 ($229).
The less expensive Iconia B1 features lesser specs than the A1-830. The B1, now in its third generation, has been slimmed down from previous models and given better internals. It features a seven-inch display that supports 10-point touch, and it is run by a dual-core 1.3-GHz processor with 1 GB of RAM. Acer has raised the build quality and given the B1 a soft-touch back cover to make it easier to hold, as well as interchangeable shells for custom colors. Acer moved the microphone and speaker to the front of the device and added a user-facing camera for video chats. The device comes with 16 GB of internal storage, but it supports microSD cards for additional capacity.
The B1 will be available in mid-January in two variants. The WiFi model will cost just €129, and the 3G/WiFi model will cost €179. Acer says it will be ideal for new users.
The last tablet in this trio is the Iconia W4, a Windows 8.1 device that features an 8.1-inch screen with a 16:10 aspect ratio and 1,280x800 pixels. According to Acer, the LCD panel uses IPS technology, like the A1-830, and offers viewing angles of up to 170 degrees. The tablet makes use of Zero Air Gap construction to remove the air between the touch panel and the LCD, reducing glare and improving outdoor readability. The W4 is powered by a fourth-generation Intel Atom 1.8-GHz processor and comes with either 32 GB or 64 GB of internal storage. Other specs include a five-megapixel rear camera with 1,080p HD video capture, a two-megapixel user-facing camera, and micro HDMI and USB ports.
Aimed more toward productivity-minded users, the W4 includes Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013, which allows users to create and edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents. The tablet also offers some software developed by Acer, including InstantGo, which refreshes app data in the background, even when the screen is off, so the device is always up to date. The Iconia W4 weighs 0.91 pounds and measures 10.75 mm thick. Acer did not say whether a 3G/4G version will be available or how much battery life users can expect.
The W4 will be available from the end of January for €299.
The three tablets join an increasingly crowded and noisy market with dozens of low-cost tablets. HP, Asus, Amazon, Nabi, and others offer compelling hardware in the $200 range. Acer's biggest problem in gaining traction for its devices will be marketing and differentiating them from the competition.
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