Tablet face-off: budget models from Acer and Asus vs. Apple’s iPad 2

The Apple iPad 2 and the Asus Transformer Pad 300 are highly competitive, but the Acer Iconia Tab A200 falls behind.

By Melissa J. Perenson, PC World |  Consumerization of IT, Acer, Android

Both the Acer and Asus models run Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich, the most current version of Google’s Android operating system that’s available on tablets. Apple’s iPad 2 ships with iOS 5.x.

Transformer Pad: A Value-Priced Contender

In our tests, the Asus Transformer Pad comes surprisingly close to beating out iPad 2. The two tablets showed some competitive give and take in our results, with the Transformer Pad edging iPad 2 in a few tests, lagging in a few others, and doing better than iPad 2 on our still and video image tests.

The surprising thing here is that the Transformer Pad has Nvidia’s latest Tegra 3 processor inside. But like the Asus Transformer Prime, which also uses the Tegra 3 system-on-chip platform, the Transformer Pad’s performance was actually quite close to what the Apple iPad 2--which uses Apple’s A5 processor circa early 2011--logged on many of our system performance tests.

The Transformer Pad was a bit faster than the iPad 2 on one of our Web page load times; but the iPad 2 beat it on GLBenchmark’s average frames per second on Egypt Standard, with anti-aliasing off (55 fps for Transformer Pad to iPad 2’s 59). Transformer Pad nearly matched the iPad 2 on battery life, logging 7 hours 30 minutes to iPad 2’s 7 hours, 37 minutes. It was speedy at recharging, too, requiring half the time to recharge as iPad 2 (1 hour 55 minutes to iPad’s 4 hours, 10 minutes).

The Transformer Pad gained ground on the iPad 2 thanks to its 8-megapixel camera, which captured better images on all of our metrics than iPad 2 could muster; and it captured impressive high-definition 1080p videos, too. However, Transformer Pad lost ground on our display tests, where our judges deemed its still image presentation to be very good, albeit not as good as iPad 2’s, and its video quality to be subpar compared with the iPad 2.

By comparison, Acer’s Iconia Tab A200 falls behind both of these with its Nvidia Tegra 2 processor. Last year’s CPU means that this model stumbled hard on some of our performance tests, particularly the GL Benchmark test; although, the A200’s posted results were (mostly) in line with other Tegra 2-based tablets. The A200, inexplicably, lagged dramatically on our custom Web page load test, taking more than a minute to load what took iPad 2 10 seconds to complete, and the Asus 12 seconds. Its battery life was an hour shorter than the others, lasting 6 hours, 31 minutes.

The Iconia Tab A200 was also hampered by its display, which could only manage a score of Fair in our comparative display tests. Factor in the A200’s lack of a rear-facing camera, and it becomes clear that you’re making a lot of performance trade-offs for Acer’s entry-level 10.1-inch tablet. Perhaps if this model was priced at $300 or even $275, those trade-offs would be worth the lower price-of-entry, but as it stands, you can do better for not much more.


Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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