I cracked open the Acer Iconia Tab A500 last August, and gave it high marks for having an easy-to-open case, replaceable battery, and a decent internal hardware layout. But, I disliked Acer's overuse of what appeared to be Kapton tape and the fact that the LCD and front panel were difficult, if not impossible, to separate.
Eight months later, Acer is back with an updated model--the Iconia Tab A510. After cracking it open, several differences between the A500 and A510 jumped out--good, bad, and interesting.
Our U.S. version of the Iconia Tab A510 had a quad-core 1.3GHz Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, 1GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a 10.1" LCD (1280 x 800 resolution), 802.11 b/g/n WLAN and Bluetooth, a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera, and a 1-megapixel front-facing camera. It measured 6.9" (H) x 10.2" (W) x 0.4" (D) and weighs 1.5 pounds.Full teardown gallery: Cracking Open the Acer Iconia Tab A510
Cracking Open observations
- Good-sized battery: At 9,800mAh, the A510's Li-ion battery has more capacity than the battery on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 but less than the 2012 iPad's power unit. According to CNET's tests, the A510's battery delivered over 11 hours of video playback, which at this point beats every other tablet but the iPad.
- Individually-replaceable hardware: Much of the internal hardware, such as the battery, speakers, cameras, and motherboard, are separate components. This means you can replace each part individually.
- Lots of tape: Acer continues to cover most of the internal connections with what appears to be Kapton tape. While this translucent film can both insulate the connection and help hold the wires in place, there are plenty of PCB and connector designs that don't require its use. And, it makes removing and replacing the components a bit more difficult than it needs to be.
- Some hardware is frustrating to remove: You can't remove some components without first removing another, unrelated piece of hardware. For example, you must remove the speakers and volume/power button circuit board before removing the battery.
- Fused LCD and front panel: The A510's LCD screen is permanently joined to the front panel with what appears to be a form of thermoplastic staking. This process eliminates the need for screws, but makes it nearly impossible to replace one without replacing the other.
- Same case and motherboard for Wi-Fi only and 3G models: Acer is clearly using the same case for both the Wi-Fi-only A510 and the 3G-enabled A511. There's a space inside the A510's case for a cellular card and an empty spot on the motherboard for a SIM card slot.
Aside from my complaints about its internal design, the A510 is a good tablet with decent hardware. Its design may not be super-slick or ultrathin, but as CNET's Eric Franklin wrote it's one of the "most comfortable tablets" he's ever held. I just wish Acer had made it as comfortable to crack open and repair as they made it to hold.Read Erik Franklin's CNET review of the Iconia Tab A510 (US) for more information on the tablet's software features, real-world performance, and battery life test results.
Our Iconia Tab A510 test unit has the following hardware:
- 1.3GHz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor (1137A3 KT N4W951.000)
- 10.1" LCD WXGA (1280 x 800)
- 32 GB Samsung KLMBG8FEJA-A001 moviNAND eMMc
- 1 GB Elpida DDR2 SDRAM (B8132B2MA-1D-F 11470R24700)
- 9,800 mAh, 36.25 Wh Li-ion battery (Model: BAT-1011)
- 5 MP rear camera
- 1 MP front camera
- microSD card slot
- Atmel mXT1386 touchscreen controller (MXT1386E-U 1140J TW D5M0H.1)
- Atmel mXT154 touchscreen controller (MT154E CCU 1G3217B)
- INPAQ GPS chip antenna
- IDT 1RLP105A NQG ZB51147A I59256FM KOR
- Texas Instruments TPS6592 PMIC (TPS659II02AA2 1BA7ZCW GI)
- Wolfson WM8903 Ultra low power CODEC for portable audio applications (WM8903L 18AGBUC)
- Invensense MPU-3050 Triple Axis Gyroscope with Embedded Digital Motion Processor (MPU-3050 Q48835-J1 E1 1128 K)
- Kionix KXTF9 Tri-Axis accelerometer (KXTF9 21269 0312)
- AUD 305B 00207 1145B
- Fairchild FDMC 7200S (PBTAB FDMC 7200S)
- ATH150 02CM Y 168269
- Texas Instruments TPS62361B 3A Processor Supply (TI1BA96LI TPB62361)
- Texas Instruments TPS61030 Efficient Synchronous Boost Converter With 4A Switch (TPS61030 TI 1CI A85R)
- AzureWave AW-NH660 (AW-NH660 1205 CHINA AA0B01256809)
- Broadcom BCM4751 Integrated Monolithic GPS Receiver (BCM47511IFBG UE1145 P10 170536 01-W)
Bill Detwiler has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. He was most recently Managing Editor for TechRepublic Pro. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.