Review: Acer Iconia Tab 8 A1-840FHD, Yes Another 8 Inch Android Tablet

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Acer Iconia Tab 8

We know what you are thinking – does the world really need another 8″ Android tablet?  When Intel asked us to check out the new Acer Iconia Tab 8 tablet, we were thinking the same thing.  Still, because we are complete gadget freaks, we decided to try it out…and to be honest we were not expecting much.

As my kids will happily tell you, I am wrong more often than I am right and it looks like I might have been wrong to pre-judge the Iconia Tab 8.  We have been testing out the Iconia Tab 8 for a few weeks and I am surprisingly impressed with this tablet.

Specs, Specs and More Specs

We want to spend most of our time discussing our experience with the Acer Iconia Tab 8, but first let’s break down the key specs on the tablet we tested…

Acer Iconia Tab 8 A1-840 FHD:

• Android 4.4 KitKat
• Intel® AtomTM Z3745 1.86GHz Quad Core CPU enables fast performance for web browsing, gaming and video playing
• Full 8″ FHD display 1920 x 1200 with IPS wide-viewing technology and zero air gap for sharper text, vivid images, and videos that come to life
• Intel® HD Graphics (Gen 7)
• Acer Touch WakeApp with touch gesture that wakes the tablet up
• Anti Fingerprint Coating technology keeps the screen clean and clear
• 2GB of dual-channel LPDDR3 system memory
• 16GB eMMC
• Two built-in stereo speakers
• Built-in microphone
• 5MP main camera
• 2MP front camera
• 802.11a/b/g/n 2.4GHz and 5GHz, MIMO technology
• Bluetooth 4.0
• GPS and GLONASS support
• 1 x micro SD Card reader, support up to 32GB (SDHC 2.0)
• 1 x micro HDMI® with HDCP support
• 1 x Headphone/speaker jack
• 1 x micro USB 2.0 Type B, support OTG
• Battery capacity: 17 Wh 4600 mAh 3.7 V 1-cell Li-ion
• Battery life: up to 7.5 hours for video playback
• 215 (W) x 130 (D) x 8.5(H) mm
• 360g (0.79 lbs.) with 1-cell battery pack

First Impressions On The Acer Iconia Tab 8

We are going to do this review in two parts.  We have been using the tablet for 2 weeks now and will share our impressions of it in this post.  Two weeks from now we will follow-up with how the tablet has done after 4 weeks of use (and abuse…did I mention I have kids).  In addition to using the tablet at home and in the office, we also took it on a trip to Jamaica to test out the camera and battery life during travel.

Overall, we have been very impressed with the Acer Iconia Tab 8 – it really packs a lot of features into a sub $200 tablet.  Here is what we have liked most…

Fast Performance With Intel Atom Quad-Core CPU

Often the first problem you run into with an inexpensive tablet is the processing power.  Things just tend to be slow and sluggish.  This is absolutely not the case with the Iconia Tab 8.  By using the Intel Atom Quad-Core CPU, Intel HD Graphics and Android 4.4 – we found the tablet to be fast and responsive.

Bright and Easy To View HD Screen

Honestly, no tablet is great when you bring it to the beach and try to view it in direct sunlight, but Iconia Tab 8 did pretty well in our vacation testing.  The screen is full HD at 1920 x 1200 with IPS wide-viewing technology.  In addition, Acer uses zero air gap around the screen which tends to make it a little easier to see in harsh lighting conditions.

Love The Micro SD Card Reader

On our vacation we shot underwater video with a GoPro camera. It was great to pull the MicroSD card right out of the GoPro and pop it into the Acer Iconia Tab 8 and instantly be able to watch the video in full HD.

MicroHDMI Port is Great For Traveling

In the hotel room, we could plug the Iconia Tab 8 into the TV in the room and play Netflix via the tablet.   Just remember to bring a MicroHDMI to HDMI cable with you when you travel…it can be a lifesaver if you have kids!

Acer Touch WakeApp Is A Feature You Will Actually Use!

Normally when companies add software to a tablet, it is just a gimmick.  Thankfully, the Acer Touch WakeApp is a truly useful addition.  You can set an app to start when you wake the tablet by placing 5 fingers on it.  We had the camera app startup with a 5 finger touch and it worked great.  You can also have a different app start when you touch the screen with both thumbs.

Some Negatives in Using the Acer Iconia Tab 8

So far we have only run into two problems with the Iconia Tab 8.  We had an issue where we took the tablet out of the bag and the battery was fully drained.  Not sure how this happened and we have not been able to recreate the problem.  It may have been something pushed against it in our bag and it was on while packed?  We will continue testing and update in our part two of this review.

The second problem, which is minor, is Acer has some software built in that starts when you fire up the tablet.  Acer has some apps that pop-up when you first start (things like photo and file sharing) and they try to get you to sign-up.  We just find these apps annoying and quickly disabled them.

Taking Photos With the Iconia Tab 8

The 5MP rear camera is not going to have you ditching your DSLR, but it does take decent photos.  Here are a couple of samples from our trip –

Here is one taken with the panorama setting –

Click on the above photos to see a larger image.  We did reduce each image by 50%, for faster loading.  Note, we did not retouch or edit the photos in any way, we wanted to show what the photos look like right off the tablet.

Much More To Come, But So Far This Intel Tablet Is Working Great

In about two weeks we will post part two to this review, but so far this Intel powered tablet has worked amazingly well.  No, it is not going to outpower a $600 iPad, but for watching videos, checking email, taking photos and browsing the web – it has worked very well.

In addition, it looks like a number of new Intel 8″ tablets are getting ready to hit the market.  Lenovo just announced the Lenovo TAB S8, an Android 4.4, Intel based tablet.  Here is a quick promo video –

It looks like the tablet wars may be heating up with new Intel tablets. Look for more on what makes Intel tablets stand out from the pack in part two of our review.

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