Since the release of the iPad, Tablets have become a major contender in the minds of gadget geeks. Sure plenty of Tablets existed before the iPad, but who wanted one of those touchscreen inventory machines? Actually I kinda did..
About 12 years ago (and possibly longer) I began a love affair with the Wacom tablets and I began down the long dark road of becoming a digital artist. Ever since I have looked for hacks, DIYs and tweaks that could be applied to any touchscreen surfaces in order to make them into mobile sketch-pads. The most recent hack I ran was DSColor which, after a few parts were ordered, could turn your DS into a mobile version of Painter..Basically.
Tablets however opened my eyes to a whole new set of possibilities, and as I have grown in my professional life as well a little machine capable of doing a bit of “real work” was something I started to look into as well. I am not a huge Apple fan as I am a gear head and hardware guy. I have built or modified every computer I have ever owned, starting about 15 years ago. Combine this with the fact that I send a good portion of my professional life providing IT support and writing code… Apple has never really been a good choice, in my mind.
So even thought the iPad got me excited and opened my eyes to a whole realm of new possibilities, I had little interest in ever getting one. In fact the first Tablet I truly drooled over was the Norton Adam Ink, but they are IMPOSSIBLE to get, so I began to look at the wider market.
My Wants in a Tablet: Something to view PDFs on in Full color, Web-access, Something I could write code on, Something I could watch Youtube/Netflix with, decent battery life, good camera, and of course lots of ports.
One of the main things I knew I was going to end up using my Tablet for (other than art/work) was paper and pencil RPGs, so 10.1″ full color screen to view PDFs on was a must. I also knew that I wanted to build a portfolio on the Tablet to showcase my work at future interviews. Next I decide to stick with the Droid OS, first off I am familiar with it on my phone, and second I had played with a few windows Tablets already and they were pretty bad as well.
I must have spent about 6 months look at other Tablets mostly online, although I did play with a few. As I narrowed what I was looking for I decided to stay with names I new and trusted. There are a lot of Android Tablets out there that are made by companies I don’t know well enough to say I trust. Another big decider was money, if I was going to drop 600 + dollars on a new portable machine, why not just spend a bit more and get a laptop?
After all the searching, reading reviews and playing with the hardware I narrowed my choices down to two: The Acer Iconica A500 and the Asus Transformer. Both machines are pretty slick, nice slim, not to heavy and run just about a fast as the other. What sold me on the Iconica was the expansion ports.. I mean this device is stacked! Micro HDMI, Micro USB, Standard USB, and Micro SD card port.
The Transformer was nice too, but I needed to drop another 150 or so to get a docking station in order to use it.. not my cup of tea, at that point I might as well buy a Galaxy Tab. Other factors that led to my purchase were weight, I actually like that the Iconica is a bit heavier, it feels nice and solid. Of course the aluminum back is awesome! and I just really like the slick styling of the tablet.
Also the Price tag was hard to beat, I picked it up on Amazon for just under 340, and being a Prime member I got free 3 day shipping.
Well it has been about a month and I am still a huge fan of this tablet. The screen is awesome for watching movies, the speakers are not that bad, Honeycomb is awesome and responsive, and Autodesk is a kick ass app. I am really surprised at how much control I have when I use my Iconica as a sketchpad. The battery life is pretty good, I can go about 3 days of normal use before I need to charge it up again. My only grumble was Netflix…
I am not sure how or why, but apparently Netflix only works with “Some” Android devices, and of course seeing how those of us that use Android devices are not a measurable chunk of the market.. (Danger Sarcasm alert.) ..it doesn’t make sense to fix it. Anyway someone did and it took just a few minutes, Google, and some research to fix my Netflix issue!
I would highly recommend the Acer Iconica A500 to anyone in the market to pick up a tablet. But even more importantly get out there and play with a few before you buy! Hit up Frys, BestBuy, Costco, wherever and get your hands on one feel the weight and just mess with it for a few minutes! This is what really helped me when it came time to buy!