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Face off: Archos 80 Titanium VS Acer Iconia A1

With the 8-inch iPad mini a raging success, it was only a matter of time before Android tablet makers followed suit. We ask if the differences are merely black and white

 

DESIGN
While both diminutive tablets are an attempt at aping the pricier iPad mini, Apple's effort is a mere 7.2mm slim, and the Acer and Archos manage 11.1mm and 9.9mm, respectively. There's a bulk issue, too, with the Iconia A1 weighing in at 410g and the 80 Titanium at 434g. Neither compares to the iPad mini's paltry 312g, though both are light enough to hold in one hand. Judged on looks alone, Archos impresses most. Its titanium-effect metallic back panel looks far more stylish than the plastic used on the Acer's rear. While Archos uses a white border, Acer has gone for sleek black.

 

DISPLAY
The displays found on the Acer and Archos are near identical; the former is 7.9 inches diagonally, the latter exactly 8 inches, though both use an LED-backlit LCD touch screen with a 1024x768 resolution. Those numbers denote a 4:3 aspect ratio, which is much narrower than a widescreen TV. While not perfect for watching films, that shape is more comfortable for reading and browsing the web.

 

CAMERA
While both tablets have a front-facing camera, the Acer triumphs on photography. Its rear-facing camera is capable of five megapixel quality images, while the Archos manages just two megapixels. The Acer can film video in 1080p HD quality at 30 frames per second.

 

FEATURES
Android features are standard across all such tablets, but there are a few additions. Acer has added its own Touch WakeApp gesture that allows access to specific apps as soon as its owner awakes, which is useful, but also a rather worrying comment on gadget addiction. Only the Acer includes GPS and Bluetooth. Archos throws in free OfficeSuite 7 software, as well as Archos Music and Archos Video media software.

 

PERFORMANCE
Crucially, both tablets have more processing power than the iPad mini. While Acer sports a Quad-core 1.2GHz processor with 1GB RAM, Archos has opted for a Dual-core 1.6GHz processor and 1GB RAM. In practice both can play HD video, launch apps quickly, and gestures and scrolling are fluid. It's also great to find mini HDMI outputs on both tablets, which makes attaching to a HDTV simple. Both tablets run the very latest Android operating system, called Jelly Bean. Both tablets last for about seven hours on a single charge, but while the Acer uses a microUSB familiar to most Android smartphone owners, Archos has opted for a proprietary wall charger.

 

CONCLUSION
Although both Acer and Archos have produced respectable low-priced alternatives to the iPad mini, neither matches it in terms of portability or looks. The black-only Acer Iconia A1 is available with 8GB or 16GB (from about HK$1,600) of storage, with a microSD slot for expanding up to 32GB. Also created in 8GB and 16GB models, the Archos 80 Titanium (from about HK$1,800) also includes a microSD card slot. It's sold only in white. Those who can see past the colour choice should opt for the Acer Iconia A1, primarily because of its superior camera, its Bluetooth and GPS features, and for the forthcoming 3G version. Jamie Carter (48hours@scmp.com)

 

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