Acer Iconia A500 Tablet Review

In my mind, there are some things that simply cannot be replaced by a generic. You will always find real Heinz Tomato Ketchup in my fridge, sorry no Catsup here; you will always find Nike shoes in my closet, Zips just don't stand the test of time; and I will never sub Mr. Pibb or Dr. Shasta as a replacement for my Dr. Pepper. I'm pretty sure Dr. Shasta isn't even a real Doctor. Other than that, I let the reviews and specs speak for themselves when I venture out for a purchase, and hold no allegiance to any one brand. That being said, I was looking for a tablet for Christmas this year and only had one rule..do my best to avoid Apple. Personally, I have several Ipods and have come to hate iTunes with passion. Plus, I can't stand the idea of built in obsolescence that comes with no SD slot and no USB ports. I also really didn't like the ridiculous yet ubiquitous price tag that comes with all Apple products. I know, I know, you Apple lemmings are as bad as the Sony ones (with the small exception that Apple does make some good products) so please save your "Once you go Apple" speeches for someone with less knowledge and more cash.

So, I read the reviews and searched for Christmas deals and when all was said and done, Santa brought me a 10" Acer Iconia A500-O8S08U 8GB tablet. Why so little memory you ask? Why not? I dropped a 32gig SD card in the expansion slot and am rolling 40GB for $209 for the tablet + $35 for the SD card. Yup, it was a fire sale and the old 8 Gig versions flew off the shelves. For this price, it was worth the risk of buying an Acer (as most would agree is a cheaper brand) as I could buy 3 of them for the price of one 32GB Ipad. Specs wise, this matched Xoom and the Samsung and the reviews were pretty good. So I got it.

Here is where the problems start. On Christmas morning I opened my toy and was thrilled for about 2 hours. After getting everything setup and running like a champ, I did a system update which made it all go wrong. The update finished but the tablet sat on the Android screen after the reboot.... forever. I didn't want to mess something up if they were long updates, so I let it sit for at least an hour. It never responded. Power off, power on, rinse and repeat. Nope, nothing. Being Christmas, I started searching the internet for people with a similar problem instead of calling tech support. The best I got there was how to do a hard and a soft factory reset. I tried both. Neither worked. Oh, both reset functions completed as they should, but the tablet still froze on reboot. The next day I called tech support and waited on hold for about 30 min. They walked me through the same hard factory reset a few times and said I would have to send it back for repair. I worked through the details of that but asked if I could just have a new one cross shipped so I didn't have to wait so long. They said that required Level 2 permission and that department was closed until the next day. The next day, I called back and waited for 30 min. for Level 1, spoke for 20 sec., and then waited another 45 min for level 2. Once they got on the phone, they said I would have to send it back and that they don't even have any inventory for a cross shipment. Wow, that would be good information to give Level 1 people. Indeed, I had wasted another hour-fifteen on hold for nothing. So, I sucked it up and shipped it back.

It took about 10 long business days for me to get my Christmas present back, but I have it now and it is working great. Honestly, I am tickled with the performance, apps, versatility with the USB ports, and the extra storage. I read my "Walking Dead" comics on it, use it as a Kindle reader, and stream movies from Netflix. I also threw several movies on it in various formats to see how it handles them and it does great. It even plays the HD format from my camcorder in native mode. I haven't had any application crashes and the battery life has been way better than expected. Others online have complained that it is too heavy, but I really haven't noticed, but then again, I don't quite have the delicate sensibilities of a right-proper, fancy lad.

In my house, this is now the go-to toy of the season and I am continually trying to pry it out of my kids hands. Ninja fruit, Angry Birds, Smurfy farm land, whatever, the kids love it. In fact, my laptop hasn't been opened since I got this and quite frankly, I don't see it getting much use in the near future either. That is, unless I need a DVD drive or a keyboard for writing reviews (like that happens more than once a month).

Overall, I think this is fantastic for the price, although I didn't care for the wait time on hold for Acer tech support or the lack of options for cross shipping product. That being said, I WAS calling the day after Christmas. Even with the initial frustration, I'm still giving this 4 stars. I only wish Santa had brought 2 more of these to my house so I can get some actual time with it. As for reliability, time will only tell, but I have yet to see what my brother's Ipad can do that this can't....besides require 3X the payments.


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