* Prices may differ from that shown
I wanted a tablet computer of some kind but didn't want to break the bank. I just wanted something that I could check my emails and Facebook on, browse the internet and maybe watch some TV and play some basic games. I'm not a big gamer by any stretch - Candy Crush Saga is about my limit - so the high speed graphics didn't bother me too much. In fact the overriding factor for me was price. So when I found the Acer Iconia B1 for just under a hundred pounds (as at July 2013) then I figured I'd got what I was looking for.
What you get is a black glass screen enclosed in a white plastic case with silver trim. There's a black version available too. Physically it measures twenty cm by thirteen cm by one and a half cm so it's easy to hold in one hand. It weighs 333 grams which is not inconsiderable. I like that, it makes it feel solid, not flimsy at all. On the top right hand side of the case are three buttons - one is the one / off switch and the other two are volume up and down. Apart from sockets for earphones and USB that's it, there's nothing else visible. However underneath a small pop-off cover which covers a micro SD card slot. I have to say that while the rest of the unit seems sturdy enough, this plastic cover seems incredibly flimsy as if it wouldn't hold in place after more than a dozen uses. Fortunately it's not something that's in constant use so it's held on so far.
Hang on now, we're going to get technical... it has a 1.2 GHz dual core processor, 16 GB flash memory, 1 GB RAM and runs Android Jelly Bean operating system. What all that means is that it's got a reasonable enough memory for basic stuff but don't try to run the latest high spec games on it.
It has a front facing camera but it's pretty basic at 0.3 MP. To put that into some kind of context, my phone includes a 5.0 MP camera and it's certainly not top of the range. But while it won't win any photography competitions the Iconia's camera is good enough to handle Skype calls. Just don't expect to be using it to take any 'proper' photos. Get a real camera for that.
The screen is very good, very clear and very responsive to the touch. It's great for reading (I downloaded the Kindle app to it) and browsing the net. It does exactly what you'd want in these respects although some people might say it's a little slow. Personally the difference between 0.2 seconds and 0.5 second response times doesn't bother me that much. I guess if you're the kind of person that finds that kind of thing important then this tablet isn't for you.
The speaker is fairly weak and tinny though. Even at full volume it's quite quiet. But plug some earphones into it and you get a surprisingly decent sound, even through cheap phones. As for the battery, well it will play six hours of continuous video on a charge of about ninety minutes via the Bluetooth to mains socket charger provided. That's not bad.
In conclusion then, as tablet computers go this is pretty basic. But it's still great for what it does.