Acer created a lot of buzz when it announced its decision to jump into
the Budget tablet segment with the Acer Iconia B1-A71, that it first
announced during CES, and later, as reported by us, launched it in India
at an attractive price of Rs. 7,999. Here's our review of the tablet.
Hardware/ Build & Design
Acer Iconia B1-A71 is a 7-inch tablet, and accordingly comes in a
compact form factor. However, the first thing that you notice about the
tablet is that it's very apparent that it's made of plastic. The tablet
is light-weight but feels flimsy. The hardware doesn't exude the feeling
of durability, and if you put even a little bit of pressure on the
screen, you'll see that it creaks and pushes through.
the design and construction, the front of the tablet has a big black
bezel, and the screen peeps through it in a manner similar to a digital
photo-frame. The top sports Acer branding at the middle and a VGA camera
at the right side. There's a strange Blue-coloured frame contouring the
tablet at the sides, and sadly, it doesn't do much to enhance the look
of the device. It looks more like a toy, and though we do understand
that it's a budget tablet, Acer has cut corners when it comes to the
quality of materials used.
The back has also been done in black
coloured plastic. There's some Acer branding, a small speaker grill and
certification labels. A Micro-USB port is located at the bottom with a
slot for a micro-SD card that is covered with an insert, while the 3.5
mm headset jack sits at the top of the device. The volume rocker and the
power/sleep button, also done in black plastic material, have been
placed at the right side of the tablet.
(diagonal) WSVGA capacitive multitouch screen comes with a resolution of
1024x600 pixels, which is nothing to write home about. The pixel
density is about 170 ppi. The screen is bright, but we found that it's
very reflective, and this hampers visibility under sunlight. Also, the
colours appear to be washed out and due to the low resolution, images
also appear to be less sharp. Viewing angles, especially from the sides
(vertically) are bad, and colours appear different from what they
should. Although text doesn't appear very sharp, the screen is decent
for reading e-books and magazines. The touch sensitivity is excellent
and we didn't encounter any issues while using the device.
Acer Iconia B1 runs Android 4.1.2 - Jelly Bean and except for a few
tweaks in the notification bar, doesn't include any custom skin. At
first boot we also found Google Play apps for Movies & TV, Books and
Magazines, but they disappeared as soon as we connected the tablet to a
Wi-Fi network - this is likely because of region restrictions. Acer
also includes a Registration app. We like the fact that there's no
bloatware and Acer has tried to keep the experience as close to stock
Android as possible.
Acer Iconia B1 is one of the few 7-inch
tablets that run Jelly Bean. Similar to the Nexus 7, the tablet's
onscreen controls (for Home, Back and App Switching) are at the centre,
and the notification tray and quick access settings (for brightness,
screen timeout, Wi-Fi, Screen rotation, Bluetooth, GPS, Airplane mode
and shortcut to Settings) are located at the top area in the
notification tray, in a manner which is a bit different from the stock
build of Android on the Nexus 7.
There are five customisable home
screens that can be filled with app shortcuts and widgets. The standard
app-launcher and dock that allows users to place six of their preferred
apps are omnipresent across all home-screens. The standard lockscreen
allows users to either unlock the device or go straight into the camera.
Of course, users can customize it to put a Face Unlock, Pattern, PIN or
During our use, we didn't notice much lag while
navigating through menus, and Google's much touted 'Project Butter'
makes the overall experience more responsive than tablets running Ice
The other major feature that Jelly Bean brings is
'Google Now', a voice based information assistant and an extension of
Google search. You can ask questions and the tool returns answers or
search results. It uses 'cards' which are essentially small boxes that
offer different sets of information ranging from weather forecast,
directions, traffic information, scores, appointments, and currency
conversion, among others. Google Now collects information based on the
user's behavior, location and even e-mail to offer information,
We're not sure if the tablet will get updated to
Jelly Bean 4.2, but if it does, features like multi-user accounts
(different profiles and access for different users) and lock-screen
widgets would also come to the tablet.
Iconia B1 comes with a 0.3-megapixel front-facing camera. Although,
personally we're no fans on using tablets for clicking needs, some may
miss having a rear camera that can be used for taking casual shots or
just for scanning some documents. The pictures that we clicked with the
front camera, indoors, were very grainy. It's functional at best and
does a decent job when used for making video calls over Skype or other
video chat apps.
Performance/ Battery Life
The tablet is
powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core processor alongside 512MB of RAM. We did
not encounter any crashes while working on this tablet and multitasking
was comfortable. We also did not notice much lag and were able to play
tablet-optimized games, without a hitch, though loading time for apps is
on the higher side. We were able to play 720p HD videos but the tablet
wasn't able to play 1080p videos.
The tablet comes with the native
Android browser and Chrome, and renders all webpages well. The speaker
grill on the back of the tablet delivers average quality sound. There's
no voice calling or support for 3G data via SIM card or dongles, and the
only way to connect to the Internet is through Wi-Fi. In our tests we
observed that download speeds were a bit slow compared to other devices.
The tablet comes with 8 B of inbuilt storage and a micro-SD card slot
that allows users to expand storage. Interestingly, the tablet also
features a GPS module, but without 3G or data connectivity of any kind
on the road, you'll have to rely entirely on navigation apps that
include offline support.
The Iconia B1 comes with a 2710mAh
battery, which we feel is a little inadequate, especially if playing
music and videos is a major part of your everyday usage. We were able to
completely charge the battery in about 3 hours. We were able to get
around 4 hours of video playback, with the display on full brightness
levels. The standby time with push notifications and e-mails, and
intermediate usage, was about a day. The tablet gives between 5-6 hours
of continuous usage on a single charge.
The main USP
of the Acer Iconia B1-A71 is the price. At Rs. 7,999, the tablet packs
in a lot of features, and if you're not constantly on the road and don't
require 3G connectivity (or use a 3G hotspot), then the tablet is a
great deal if price is a major consideration. To offer the tablet at
this price, Acer has cut corners when it comes to the overall quality of
the hardware, which we feel doesn't appear to be very durable. Other
tablets that run Jelly Bean in this segment include the Karbonn Smart
Tab 8, an 8-inch tablet that sports a better screen and larger battery,
though we're yet to test it. If price is not a consideration, then the
Huawei MediaPad Lite (with voice calling) and the Nexus , are other
7-inch Android tablets in the premium segment that you can consider,
though the Nexus 7 isn't officially available in the country yet. The
Acer Iconia B1 is a great option if you're looking for a tablet for
casual web browsing, reading e-books and playing casual game.
Acer Iconia B1-A71: First look
- Runs Jelly Bean
- Attractive pricing
- Decent performance
- Quality of materials used is underwhelming
- The screen's viewing angles are bad & colours looked washed out
- Battery life could have been better
Ratings (Out of 5)
Battery Life: 2.5
Value for Money: 3.5