Tablets Guide

Acer Iconia Tab A500 review

Acer Iconia Tab A500 - Iconic Honeycomb

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Launch SRP S$799



Performance Benchmarks

Busy for the Honeycomb

Being an Android tablet, its performance benchmarks would be similar to its mobile counterparts. Unfortunately, we were unable to run the NeoCore benchmark that's used to evaluate the GPU performance. As such, we've included SmartBench 2011 to evaluate its productivity and gaming performance purely on the Android platform. To give you a rough idea of how devices compare across various platforms, we've also included the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark. In summary, the three benchmarks that will be performed and their purposes are:

  • Quadrant, which measures the device's performance based on its CPU, I/O and GPU. Simply put, Quadrant is a benchmark that gives you a general idea of how your device performs against other Android devices.
  • Smartbench 2011 is a multi-core friendly benchmark application that measures the overall performance of your device. It reports both Productivity and Games Index to suit both productivity users and 3D gaming users. This benchmark is a comparison between Android tablets only.
  • SunSpider JavaScript benchmark is also tossed in, acting as a common benchmark that measures the browsing performance of the tablet and is applicable for all platforms.

How the Tablets Stack up
Device Acer Iconia Tab A500 Motorola Xoom ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Apple iPad 2
CPU NVIDIA Tegra 2 Dual-Core 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 Dual-Core 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 Dual-Core 1GHz Apple A5 Dual-Core 1GHz
GPU ULP GeForce ULP GeForce ULP GeForce PowerVR SGX 543MP2 
RAM 1GB 1GB 1GB 512MB
OS Google Android 3.0 Google Android 3.0 Google Android 3.0 Apple iOS 4.3

For comparison purposes, we look at the results from a few other recent tablets, namely the Motorola Xoom, ASUS Eee Pad Transformer and Apple iPad 2. It is still early days for the Android tablets, and judging from the Smartbench scores of the Tab A500 against the Xoom and Eee Pad Transformer, Acer's Honeycomb tablet has a clear lead in two out of three benchmarks, though it is followed closely by the ASUS slate.

With all three tablets powered by NVIDIA's dual-core Tegra 2 chip and keeping its operating system relatively clean with no add-ons to its firmware, it's not surprising to find similar results across these three Android 3.0 slates.

The Sunspider JavaScript benchmark gives us an idea of how each tablet will perform and manage its resources when used as a web browsing device. With the same tablets, and adding on the iPad 2 as another comparison point, we noticed very similar results across the four tablets. As such, it is safe to say that the performance difference is quite negligible amongst the tablets, and most importantly, between the iOS and Android platforms.

Do note that the scores that were obtained are only an estimate of the performance, and are not conclusive of their actual real world performance. This is especially true for the Tab A500, which didn't exactly reflect what we saw from its scores. Earlier on, we did mention how Acer's own apps gave us a few doubts over its speed and performance. Thankfully, if you stick to the Android 3.0 interface, you'll find a relatively smooth experience awaiting you. Switching between pages came off pretty swift, but the screen orientation and transition into the main menu were slower than expected.

With NVIDIA's Tegra 2 powering the Tab A500 and NVIDIA's Tegra Zone app available on the Android Market, we also got around to testing games that are optimized for the Tegra 2 experience. A game of Dungeon Defenders did gives us a feel of how the Tegra 2 processor managed the game - average at best, with some slight slowdowns when graphics became heavier and strained its resources.