Acer Iconia A500, a decent Tegra 2 tablet for gaming and watching Netflix

Written by B Johnson January 19, 2014
Acer Iconia A500
Besides Tegra 3 tablets, tablets that are running on Nvidia Tegra 2 SoC have also been my favorites, especially for gaming. Acer Iconia A500 is one of the slates equipped with Tegra 2 processor. But is this tablet still great for gaming?
Hi guys, welcome back!

Just a while ago, i’ve already showed you one Tegra 3 tablet made by Acer. And that was Acer Iconia Tab A110.

Acer Iconia A500

Today, i have another Acer’s tablet which i think, can also be a good gaming tablet.

This one is Acer Iconia A500, a 10.1-inch Android tablet sporting the 720p resolution.

The reason why i think this Acer’s tablet can be a good gaming tablet is because this tablet is packing one of NVIDIA’s beast processor, Tegra 2.

Despite being an outdated processor for today’s tablet market, Tegra 2 is still a pretty powerful processor though.

It may not be as powerful as the next-gen Tegra 3, let alone the “real” beast Tegra 4, but still, any tablet with this chipset, coupled with 1GB of RAM and GeForce ULP GPU, can be a good-performing tablet.

In fact, with this chipset, Acer Iconia A500 can also be a pretty good gaming tablet, if not great.

Well, if you’re interested to know more about this device, especially its gaming performance, then here you go, my personal review of Acer Iconia A500.


In laptop and netbook markets, Acer may have some great success in shipping hordes of its homemade devices to many markets across the world.

However, in tablet market, this company definitely is still a new and small player.

Acer may have some tablets available to buy on the tablet market since 2 years ago, but sadly, not many of its tablets are known popularly, let alone being the best selling tablets, especially compared to big names like iPad, Samsung GALAXY Tab and Note, Kindle Fire, Asus Transformer or Sony Xperia tablets.

But that’s not so surprising to hear because Acer itself, is only aiming its target at low-end emerging markets, especially in developed countries.

However, even though Acer’s tablets are mostly segmented in low-end tablet market, it doesn’t mean that its tablets suck or weaker than the rivals, in terms of performance and hardware.

As a matter of fact, there are some Acer’s homemade tablets that i think, can be worth buying tablets, of course if you’re looking for a cheap budget tablet.

Besides Acer Iconia Tab A110, there is another Acer’s tablet that i also think, can be a good gaming tablet.
And that is Acer Iconia A500.

Acer Iconia Tab A500 - Full tablet specifications/SPECS

Just like the one i just showed you earlier, Acer Iconia Tab A500 also comes with Tegra chipset.

However, if Acer Iconia Tab A110 is packing a quad-core Tegra 3 processor, then this Acer Iconia A500 is powered by the Tegra processor that was released before the Tegra 3, and that is Tegra 2, which is a dual-core SoC (system on chip).

Despite being an outdated processor, the Tegra 2 chipset inside this Acer Iconia Tab A500 is actually still a powerful processor though.

It may not be as powerful as Tegra 3 or as beast as Tegra 4, but still, when this chipset made its first debut a few years ago, it was one of the most powerful processors in tablet market.

Besides the Tegra 2 chipset, Acer Iconia A500 is also packing some other good quality specs on it, like 1GB of RAM, GeForce ULP GPU, a 10.1-inch 720p display (1280x800 pixels), 5MP rear-facing camera, 2MP front-facing shooter, 3260mAh power battery and many more.

With all of these goodies, you can expect this tablet to have a pretty decent performance.


In terms of design, to be honest with you, i personally think Acer did a great job on this sector.

Despite having some outdated hardware and software, Acer Iconia A500 actually still looks quite modern for a tablet released in 2011.

I mean, i’ve never seen any tablet has this cool unique design. I don’t understand where there are not many Android tablets that use this kind of design.

Acer Iconia A500

I think it would be cool to have a tablet with this design, but with more powerful hardware inside, like, say, Tegra 4 or Snapdragon 800.

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  • No SIM
  • Released April 2011,
  • Discontinued
  • 10.1 inch LCD capacitive touchscreen, 800 x 1280 pixels (~149 ppi pixel density)
  • Nvidia Tegra 2 T20Dual-core 1 GHz Cortex-A9 CPU
  • ULP GeForce GPU
  • 1 GB DDR2 RAM
  • Android OS, 3.0, 3.2, planned upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Acer UI
  • 5 MP Camera, LED flash
  • 2 MP
  • 16/32 GB Internal storage
  • MicroSD Card slot, up to 32 GB
  • No GPRS
  • No EDGE
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Bluetooth
  • USB
  • GPS
  • Java
  • No Radio
  • Li-Po 3260 mAh battery
As mentioned above, Acer Iconia A500 can be considered as a pretty good tablet, of course in its class.

With the specs like a 10.1-inch display sporting the resolution of 720p or 1280x800 pixels, a dual-core Tegra 2 chipset, 1GB of RAM, GeForce ULP GPU, 5MP rear-facing camera, 2MP front-facing camera and 3260mAh power battery, this tablet still deserves to be positioned in today’s tablet market, of course in $170 price range or around it, but probably more, given its 10.1-inch screen.

But overall, this tablet is pretty decent tablet though.

It may not stack up against other rivals, even 7-inch tablets like Tegra Note, HP Slate 7 Extreme, Google Nexus 7 (2013 edition) or Kindle Fire 7 HDX, let alone other 10-inch competitors, say, Sony Xperia Tablet Z, Samsung GALAXY Note 10.1 or iPad Air, but at the price range below the $200, you can get a pretty decent 10-inch tablet with good performance and gaming capability.

Acer Iconia A500 may not be able to run the latest games released in 2013 or around it, but still, if you can snatch this tablet at low price point, like, say, $150, you definitely made a good purchase.


In term of display, this tablet is packing a pretty huge 10.1-inch display with the resolution of 1280x800 pixels or known as 720p display.

Compared to other rivals, especially in 10-inch tablet market, then this Acer’s tablet stands no chance to compete, given that most of 10-inch tablets today are already using 1080p display (1920x1200 pixels) or even 2.5K display (2560x1600 pixels).

But still, if you can grab Acer Iconia A500 at low price point, or lower than other 10-inch tablets out there, then you’ll make no mistake when buying this tablet.

It’s still a pretty decent tablet.

Anyway, in the real life implementation, the 720p resolution on the 10.1-inch display on this tablet is actually still considered as pretty good, even in today’s tablet market.

As i mentioned above, most of 10-inch tablets these days already left 720p resolution and migrate to either 1080p or even 2.5K resolution.

However, that doesn’t mean that the display of this Acer’s tablet will suck.

In fact, with that 720p resolution, the 10.1-inch display of this tablet still looks sharp and clear.

Thanks to its huge screen real estate, doing things like watching HD 720p movies, reading books or magazines, browsing the web or playing games, all can still be really fun to do on this 10-inch tablet.

However, you might still need to zoom in zoom out so often when you couldn’t read the text or see the images perfectly, but still, having a 720p resolution on a huge 10.1-inch display is still considered as pretty good, even for today’s standards.

It still looks sharp in human eyes.

As a matter of fact, videos with 720p resolution already look great and sharp. So you can expect the same thing on the display of this tablet.

User Interface

Acer Iconia A500 comes with Acer’s homemade Android OS, and it’s called Acer UI (duh!).

The User Interface of this tablet actually looks pretty much the same with other Android tablets out there, of course the ones with the stock Android Honeycomb UI.

However, there are some special features that comes pre-installed on this tablet, which can’t be found on other regular Android tablets.

But overall, this tablet still comes with a bunch of standard features that you can also find on other Android tablets.

This tablet also has that cool lockscreen feature that allows you to put some of your favorite shortcuts of apps (like web browser, gmail, messaging app, camera app, etc) right on the lockscreen “key”, which can be activated whenever you press and hold the on-screen lock screen key, just like the same one found on Acer Iconia Tab A110, which i just showed you earlier.

By the way, this feature can also be found on any Android devices that are installed with CyanogenMOD UI.

Besides that lockscreen key’s shortcut apps, there are also some other cool and awesome features that come pre-loaded on this tablet, like 3D-alike carousel effect on music player, photo browser 3D, cool camera UI, categorized apps and many more.

Some of my favorite features on this tablet are photo browser 3D and 3D carousel effect on music player.

The photo browser 3D is actually a photo gallery app. But what makes this app cool is because, the way to explore all of your photos on this tablet will be shown in the form of 2 paper book-alike User Interface.

So if you want to see the next of your photo, you can just slide the “paper” as if you’re sliding the real paper of book.

This UI can also be controlled by using the gyro sensor on this tablet, which allows you to see the previous or next photo by lifting up the tablet on the left or right position respectively.

The other cool feature is the 3D-alike carousel effect on music player.

This is actually not the feature, but only the visual presentation of music player that is shown in the form of 3D carousel slider, which looks really cool. And thanks to its powerful Tegra 2 processor, sliding your music library with this effect works seamlessly and feels so smooth.

I think these features are the things that really make me impressed a lot by this Acer’s tablet.

I mean, i’ve seen many tablets have their own features or pre-loaded apps. But nothing as cool as the features and UI found on this Acer Iconia A500.

I believe only Sony Xperia tablets can match the whole thing on this tablet, from the features, visual effects or presentations, UI and many more, of course, in my personal opinion.


When it comes to performance, this tablet may not be on par with other competing rivals around the market to date, especially the ones with 10.1-inch display.

However, as a tablet released back in 2011, Acer Iconia A500 can still be considered as pretty decent tablet.

In fact, back in the days of 2011, this Acer’s tablet was probably one of the best 10.1-inch tablets in the market that time.

I mean, with the specs like Tegra 2 processor, 1GB of RAM, GeForce ULP GPU and a 10.1-inch display sporting the 1280x800 pixel resolution, this tablet indeed is a pretty good tablet in its class.

Its hardware may be so outdated compared to today’s standards, however, Tegra 2 dual-core actually is still a pretty good-performing processor, if not great.

So doing basic tasks like watching HD movies, reading magazines, browsing the web, playing games and pretty much every tasks that you throw on this tablet can still be executed perfectly in smooth performance.

However, there are still some noticeable lags found here and there, especially when you deploy live wallpaper on the homescreen or open many apps at the same time.

This tablet may not have some beast hardware like other rivals are packing, like Google Nexus 7 with its Snapdragon S4 Pro, Kindle Fire 7 HDX with Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 800 or Tegra Note with NVIDIA’s current beast Tegra 4, but still, for doing any basic things like aforementioned above, this Acer’s tablet still can get the job done smoothly for daily tasks, which is the main reason why people buy a tablet, right?

However, the story is way different when it comes to playing games, which i’m about to talk about in a minute.

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When it comes to gaming, then the hardware, especially its Tegra 2 processor inside the Acer Iconia Tab A500 definitely doesn’t stack up against other rivals that are already using either Tegra 4, Snapdragon S4 Pro, Snapdragon 600, Snapdragon 800, Samsung Exynos octa-core or even some cheap MediaTek quad-core chipsets.

However, with the Tegra 2 dual-core chip, 1GB of RAM and GeForce ULP GPU, this Acer’s tablet actually is already capable to handle most of games, even the most graphically demanding ones on Google Play Store, of course the games that were released back in 2011, like Modern Combat 1 and 2, N.O.V.A 2, ShadowGun 1, Need for Speed Undercover, Samurai Showdown or Asphalt 5.

The bad news is, when faced with much newer games released in 2012, let alone in 2013, like Modern Combat 4, GTA Vice City, Dead Trigger 1, Horn, Need for Speed Most Wanted, Asphalt 7: Heat or N.O.V.A 3, then this Acer’s tablet will struggle a lot in handling these games, even in medium graphics setting, let alone in full graphics.

But the good news is, some of these games allow users to set the graphics to even the lowest level, for example like GTA Vice City or Dead Trigger 1, while other games like Modern Combat 4 and Asphalt 7: Heat are also available to download for lower-end devices with weak hardware, such as this Acer's tablet.

And the other good news is, despite having some outdated processor, this Acer’s tablet gives you the exclusive access to Tegra Zone through its app, which allows you to browse plenty of games that are well-optimized for Tegra tablet, including this Acer Iconia A500.

So games on this Tegra Zone will have more detailed graphics, more particles and more sophisticated visual effects than other games on non-Tegra tablets.

However, given that this Tegra 2 processor is already considered as outdated and not on par with Tegra 3 quad-core in gaming performance, then i’m not really sure if you can get all the latest games on this Tegre Zone.

But still, having the privilege with this exclusive access to Tegra Zone should be appreciated though.

Not all Android tablets can gain the access to Tegra Zone.


It’s good to know that this tablet is also packing a 5MP rear-facing camera.

It may not have something to write home about, especially on its photo and video quality, but still, having a rear-facing camera, which is 5MP, should be appreciated, right?

Who knows, it might come in handy in case you forgot to bring your smartphone or digital camera at your disposal.

The good news is, according to the review from PhoneArena, the photo and video quality of this tablet is actually pretty good, although not as impressive as other high-end tablets out there.

But the camera of Acer Iconia A500 can still take some great shots that are worth bragging to your Instagram, Twitter or Facebook account.

Meanwhile, on the front-side, there is also the 2MP front-facing shooter, enabling you to do selfies or video calling in your spare time.

Not to mention, on the rear-facing camera, you’ll also find the LED flash on the back, which can be really useful if you’re gonna take shots in low-light condition.

Battery Life

In term of battery life, this tablet surprisingly is amazingly good. Unlike its younger brother, Acer Iconia Tab A110, this Acer Iconia A500 tablet also comes with rather small 3260mAh power battery.

On paper, it definitely doesn’t stack up against other rivals that already use above 5000mAh battery capacity, like the 8020mAh battery on iPad Air, 8220mAh on Samsung GALAXY Note 10.1 or a staggering 9000mAh power battery on Google Nexus 10 and Lenovo Yoga 10 Tablet.

However, in the real world quality, it's amazing to see that the battery of this tablet could last really long than expected.

As a matter of fact, according to video reviews on YouTube, this tablet could even last in 2 days in heavy usage, of course in one full charge.

So for doing basic tasks in mixed usage, like watching HD movies, reading books or magazines, browsing the web or playing games, you can expect to see this tablet last around 2 days, or even 3 days the longest, in one full charge.

However, if you intend to use this tablet for doing some heavy intense tasks without resting the screen, like watching HD movies in marathon or playing games in the row, the battery life could be much even shorter than in mixed usage, probably around 15 to 20 hours in heavy usage.

But this is still considered as really great, even for today's standard.

I think this really contradicts with Tegra 3 Acer Iconia Tab A110 which comes with the same battery capacity just like this Acer Iconia A500, but could only last a half of day in mixed usage, which is so disappointing.

I believe this has something to do with the Tegra 3 processor that is so power hungry and force all of its power to the tablet, compared to Tegra 2.

My Personal Opinions

So in conclusion, i think Acer Iconia A500 is still a pretty decent tablet, of course in the price range of around $170.

It has a great unique design, a sharp 720p display, pretty powerful hardware, good gaming performance, long lasting battery life (could last in 2 days), smooth experience in multitasking thanks to its dual-core CPU and 1GB of RAM, the complete standard features: like the rear-facing 5MP camera, microSD card slot or LED flash, and the most importantly, a huge screen real estate.

I also like the fact that this tablet is packing a dual-core Tegra 2, meaning that this tablet will be an ideal gaming tablet and can handle most of the games released in 2011, like Modern Combat 1 and 2, N.O.V.A 2, Asphalt 6: Adrenaline, ShadowGun, Samurai Showdown or Need for Speed Undercover.

However, when faced with much newer games like Modern Combat 4, Asphalt 7: Heat, GTA Vice City or Need for Speed Most Wanted, of course this tablet will struggle really hard to deliver its best performance, especially in full graphics.

However, in low-end 10-inch tablet market, it’s still pretty rare to see good quality tablets, especially the ones with long lasting battery life like this Acer Iconia A500.

I know – there are some decent 10-inch tablets out there on the market, but most of them still cost above $300.

Acer Iconia A500 may not be the best 10-inch tablet in tablet market, that’s for sure, but if you manage to get this tablet around $150, then you just made a good purchase.

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