Acer may have a low-cost hit with the Iconia One 7 tablet

A great tablet that costs less than $150 remains an elusive device. But perhaps Acer is headed in the right direction with its new Iconia One 7, which will retail for $130 when it arrives in late June.

I tried a press sample and was generally pleased with it, although there was a glitch or two. We’ll do our full complement of tests for our Ratings when the retail version is available. Meanwhile, here are my first impressions.

The specs

The 7-inch display on the Iconia One 7 has a resolution of 1280x800. That’s not the highest resolution around, but it’s better than that of other inexpensive tablets. Two speakers are on the back, and there’s a MicroSD memory card slot. You might miss that card slot, since it’s just a little slit in the side of the tablet, and the word MicroSD disappears into the casing texture. The Iconia One 7 is available in a variety of colors.

The look and feel

I like the way the Iconia One 7 feels. Of course, it’s not housed in the aluminum casing you get with many more-costly models. But the plastic is pleasingly textured in the back, making it less slippery. It’s narrow enough to comfortably hold in one hand. And it weighs just 0.6 pounds. At 0.35 inches,the Iconia One 7 is also as thin as the Google Nexus 7. The power and volume buttons are easy to find and press.

Reading books and magazines

Reading a book on this device is pleasant. Text is clear. It’s easy to hold for a long period, thanks to its narrow shape and light weight. Page turns reading books were very smooth. Reading a magazine in the text mode that’s available in Zinio and Amazon provides text crisp enough to be easy to read. If you’re reading in magazine mode, you’ll want to zoom in or the text will look too small.  

Watching videos and playing games

Video looked good, and sound was also decent. Playback was smooth, even in fast-moving action scenes. The display looks bright, as do the colors.

For more information and advice, check our tablet buying guide and Ratings.

Playing games

I tried Beach Buggy Blitz and Smash Hit on this tablet. Beach Buggy Blitz worked fine, with graphical elements such as water droplets visible when they were supposed to be. But I experienced many hiccups in the course of playing Smash Hit, and that was distracting. We’ll be able to get a better idea of how good this tablet is for more-demanding games once we fully test performance.

Taking pictures

There are a good number of editing tools built into the Acer Iconia One 7, including filters and other ways to enhance your photos. But my favorite is the Selective editing tool. Swipe a dark area on the photo, and you can make it brighter. Swipe in the other direction, and you can make it darker.

Bottom line

The Acer Iconia One 7 handled just about everything I threw at it in my first look, and that’s promising, especially for $130. It’s light and compact enough to feel comfortable. The display looks good, and video playback was smooth. But it didn’t do that well handling one of the more demanding games currently available. We’ll see how it stacks up once we complete our Ratings.

—Donna Tapellini

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