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Acer Iconia A1 hands-on preview

Acer has just unveiled a number of new products, including an Ultrabook convertible, an unconventional "floating touchscreen" notebook, and a newly minted Android tablet.

And we got to spend some hands-on time with the latter – Acer’s Iconia A1, which is the company's latest effort to make waves in the small-screen tablet world, an arena currently dominated by the uber-popular Apple iPad mini and the Google-branded Nexus 7.

In a first for Acer, the A1 uses an unconventional 7.9in screen form factor that apes the iPad mini instead of sticking to the more common 7in form factor found in most small-screen Android tablets.

Acer stressed that the Iconia A1 is designed for one-handed use, but its 11mm thickness and weight of 410 grams make it thicker and heavier than the Nexus 7 and iPad mini. It's by no means a clunky tablet, and is perfectly comfortable to hold in one hand, but its form and design leave something to be desired.

The casing is made entirely from non-descript plastic, and it's an outwardly unremarkable tablet in terms of design. It's clearly been formulated with the iPad mini in mind, but doesn't really come close to matching Apple's tablet in quality or "wow" factor.

The 7.9in size isn't the only thing the A1 has in common with the iPad mini, as both tablets use the same 1,024 x 768-pixel resolution. That 4:3 aspect ratio is a bit different to the 16:9 you'll find on the Nexus 7 and most other Android tablets.

That resolution is also a bit low compared with the 1,280 x 800 resolution of the Nexus 7 and the Amazon Kindle Fire HD. The panel is, at least, an IPS display, meaning it has a nice wide viewing angle, and the screen is sufficiently bright, though colours didn't look all that vibrant.

Powering the Iconia A1 is a quad-core 1.2GHz MediaTek processor with 1GB of RAM. We haven't seen that setup in any competing models yet, but the A1 felt zippy and smooth during our brief hands-on time. Some of that polish can likely be attributed to the fact that Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean is running on the A1.

Rounding out the slate’s features are micro-USB and micro-HDMI ports, as well as a microSD card slot for memory expansion, which is always good to see.

The Acer Iconia A1 8GB model will carry a suggested retail price of £150, and it should go on sale by the time June rolls around. That will be the Wi-Fi version, and a 3G model is expected to be on the shelves two months later, retailing at around £210.