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TheStreet Open House

Acer's Android Response to the iPad Mini

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- This is a review of the Acer Iconia A1. No, this is not a steak sauce. It is an Android tablet that's trying to mimic the form factor of Apple's (AAPL) iPad Mini. It's $199 and I don't recommend it for one reason: The crummy display.

The Acer Iconia A1 is very close to being a copy of the iPad Mini. It's got 7.9 inch display with 4x3 aspect ratio, and has a similar (low) screen resolution. On the plus side, the Iconia A1 has HDMI connector and MicroSD slot.

On the downside, it is thicker, is a bit slippery and doesn't feel like a high-quality build. Most importantly, the display is terrible. The viewing angles are the worst I've seen and the display is dim.

Comparing almost any web page, text, email, whatever with another tablet is not a flattering comparison. The Iconia A1 simply looks worse.

On the upside, the Aconia A1 has decent Android 4.2.2 software that feels mostly like a Nexus device. This means that it's got the easiest setup in the business, and has very little bloatware. It doesn't get much easier than this. Your need for tech support should be zero at all levels of ownership.

Let me make a series of comparisons to illustrate how the $199 Acer Iconia A1 matches up with some alternatives you may have had in mind:

1. Apple iPad Mini: $199 vs. $329 for the iPad Mini is a big percentage gap, but I would argue the iPad Mini is a vastly better device. The quality of the screen is like night and day. In addition, the device has a different quality build, and it's thinner and shaped better. You can also pay another $130 and get the iPad Mini with embedded LTE for use on several of the major mobile network operators.

2. Asus Nexus 7: This device is about to be replaced any day by a Nexus 8 or whatever it will be called, but suffice it to say that the Asus Nexus 7 already blows the Acer Iconia A1 out of the water. Let's count the ways:

A. The screen. Comparing anything side by side, it's not a close call. The Nexus 7 has a slightly smaller screen, but everything appears sharper, brighter, and doesn't suffer from the narrowest viewing angle.

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