Acer Iconia Tab A100: How 8GB could be enough for a tablet

Acer has unveiled its next entry for the tablet market, but it pushes the bar on how little onboard memory a tablet can have.

Although Acer founder Stan Shih recently labeled interest in tablet PCs as a "short-term phenomena," his company is pushing ahead with this fad anyway with the debut of the Acer Iconia Tab A100.

The A100 is actually one of the most competitively-priced tablets ever, and it's a bargain if you're really interested in having an Android Honeycomb-based unit.

Pricing starts at $329.99 US/$349.99 CAD for the 8GB model, and climbs slightly to $349.99 US/$399.99 CAD for 16GB of total onboard storage space.

Also: Hands-on with the Acer Iconia Tab A100: First 7-inch Honeycomb tablet

CNET Review: Acer Iconia Tab A100

At first glance at that pricing scale, it looks like the automatic choice must be to get the 16GB model. After all, it's only $20 more (at least for U.S. consumers) for double the space. Also, doesn't 8GB seem like barely enough space at all for a tablet? That's not even enough for most smartphone users these days. Think about all of the memory taken up by graphic-heavy apps and HD videos.

However, maybe the 8GB starting point isn't so bad.

First, the 7-inch Iconia Tabs sports a microSD card reader that supports cards up to 32GB. Thus, a user can easily bump up the space on hand to 40GB (or 48 if you ended up buying the 16GB variant). However, these cards run for an average of $50, but it would make more sense to get the 8GB with the extra card if you're really concerned about space rather than paying $20 more for only 16GB total. The difference is minimal in the long run.

There are a few other larger options. For example, an owner could pair the tablet with a wireless external hard drive. Seagate's GoFlex Satellite, which I reviewed back in May, packs 500GB of hard drive space that can be accessed via Wi-Fi on iOS and Android apps.

The problem with this option? Again, it's more money. The GoFlex Satellite retails for $199.99, which is half way to another tablet. But, it is a ton of storage, and it's pretty nifty that all of it can be accessed wirelessly from a short distance. (For example, when traveling, a passenger can leave the drive turned on but stowed in a carry-on suitcase above the seat and still access files on a tablet or laptop.)

However, there is another wireless option -- perhaps the most obvious solution: the cloud. For computer users who are shifting (or maybe already have shifted) their entire computing lives to the cloud, well then 8GB is all one needs.

The only problem is that said users must be connected to the Internet (via Wi-Fi, Mi-Fi, whatever) most of the time to make real use out of this medium. Additionally, most cloud computing accounts above 5GB are not free and come with subscription rates. and Apple's upcoming iCloud fall into this category for personal and enterprise cloud accounts. And users who want to store HD movies, music and any other hefty files will need a lot more than 5GB. (Not to mention it will take a long time to upload that stuff, depending on which cloud you belong to.)

Thus, 8GB is definitely a feasible option for a tablet, but it's not easy. If an owner of the Iconia Tab A100 wants to push the boundaries of his or her storage space, it's going to cost more money -- one way or another.


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