Until recently, the words “tablet” and “inexpensive” didn’t belong anywhere near each other; if you wanted a high-powered, portable computer, you had to break the bank to get it. Now, however, the market for more inexpensive tablets has started to expand, and is bringing portable, touch-screen computing to a wider market than ever before. Two such tablets are the Acer Iconia A500 and the Viewsonic gTablet. There’s a lot more to these tablets than just the price tag, however, and if we put them head-to-head, it’s clear that these two tablets have some very distinct strengths and weaknesses.
Price: While neither of these tablets will cost as much as an iPad, they are far from equivalent. As tablets go, the Acer is a great deal at $450, but since you can routinely find the Viewsonic for under $300, there isn’t much of a contest here. If price is your number one issue, the Viewsonic is just about unbeatable.
Performance: The best part about both these tablets is that you don’t have to sacrifice power and speed because of the price. Both models come with an NVIDIA Tegra Dual Core processor, though the Acer does run a bit faster with 1G of memory to the Viewsonics 512 MB. While both tablets are capable of multi-tasking and have Flash capability (meaning you can view basically all websites without incident), the speed and power of the new Android Honeycomb OS on the Acer gives it a slight leg up.
Operating System: Speaking of which, while the hardware on these two machines is relatively similar—and as powerful as much more expensive tablets, by the way—the software couldn’t be more different. The Acer runs on the Android Honeycomb 3.0 OS, which is specifically designed for tablets, has a great user-friendly interface, and access to the large and ever-growing Android App market. The Viewsonic, on the other hand, still runs on a third-party modified version of Android 2.2, which cannot compete with the brand-new Android OS. If, as rumored, the Viewsonic will soon get an improved OS like Android Honeycomb or Android 2.3, this will be a much closer call, but until then, the advantage is solidly with the Acer.
Screen: Both tablets have 10.1” multi-touch LCD displays capable of 1080p HD, but again, the Acer has a slight edge with a 1280 x 800 resolution compared to the 1024 x 600 resolution on the Viewsonic. The viewing angle is also a noticeably better on the Acer, which makes it a slightly nicer choice for curling up on the couch and watching a movie, with the well balanced 16:10 aspect ratio. Neither one does too well outside, as there is significant glare, but then again, it’s basically impossible to find a tablet that does.
Size and Weight: These two devices are basically the same size, with the Acer measuring 10.2 x 7 x .5 inches and weighing 1.69 pounds while the Viewsonic comes in at 10.5 x 6.8 x .54 inches and weighs 1.5 pounds. Either one of these tablets is small and lightweight enough to be highly portable.
Battery Life: Even better, the battery life on both of these devices is quite long, with the Acer lasting about 8 hours of heavy use on a single charge, and the Viewsonic lasting even a little longer, just over nine hours of multi-tasking use. Both of these tablets have enough battery life to make them practical for long trips, movie-watching, or any other kind of everyday portable computing.
Camera: Here again, the slightly higher price for the Acer means that it has a couple extra bells and whistles. While the Viewsonic has a 1.3 MP camera for video-chatting and recording, the Acer has a 2 MP camera on the front of the device for the same purpose in addition to a 5 MP camera on the back of the device for HD video recording. If you’re only planning on using the tablet for video-chatting, there isn’t too much of a difference, but if you’re interested in recording some high-quality videos of your own while out and about, the Acer is a clearly better choice.
Memory: Since both of these tablets are lightweight, and inexpensive, one of the trade-offs is internal storage space. Both the Acer and the Viewsonic come with only 16 GB of internal storage. That said, both tablets also come with Micro SD slots, meaning you can add up to another 16 GB of storage space on a memory card, giving you the ability to add as much memory as you need for a given project.
Connectivity: Both tablets use an 802.11 (b/g/n) wireless protocol and have Bluetooth connectivity, meaning you can both surf the web quickly and easily and conveniently connect external devices like keyboards and headsets. Each tablet also has both a USB and a micro USB port, meaning you can also easily use memory-sticks with these devices. Even better, both the Acer and the Viewsonic have HDMI outputs, meaning you can easily hook these tablets up to an HDTV or HD display and watch streaming movies from your tablet.
Aesthetics: This shouldn’t really be important, but the Acer does look and feel more durable with a slick-looking aluminum case. Neither tablet has any durability issues, but if you’re interested in style points, the edge goes to the Acer.
Overall: Either one of these tablets offers a lot of bang for the buck, and provides surprising power for less money than many of the fancier tablets on the market. If you’re willing to shell out a bit more money for the Acer, you’ll get a slightly faster, more powerful machine with a few extra features and a much better operating system, but the Viewsonic is still an incredible deal simply because it’s so much cheaper than any of the other high-quality tablets on the market.
- Read Our Acer Iconia Review
- Read Our Viewsonic G Review
- Read User Reviews or Check On Current Price For The Acer Iconia
- Read User Reviews or Check On Current Price For The Viewsonic G
By Ned Schaumberg