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Acer Iconia Tab teardown: Easy-to-service, 3G-ready

The Acer Iconia Tab has a stylish exterior, but the Android tablet also has a removable back cover, replaceable battery, and 3G-ready internal design.

The Acer Iconia Tab A500 is one of several 10-inch Android tablets priced below the Apple iPad. It has a dual-core NVidia Tegra 2 1GHz processor, 1GB of DDR2 SDRAM, a 10.1-inch touchscreen display (1280x800), a 2 MP front camera, and 5 MP rear camera. It comes with Android 3 Honeycomb installed.

As of this writing, the A500 is available in 16GB ($449.99) and 32GB ($499.99) versions. The current models only support Wi-Fi connectivity. There is speculation that Acer will release a 3G version on AT&T (the A501) in mid-2011. As with the Asus Eee Pad Transformer, there already a spot on the A500's motherboard for a 3G card.

The Iconia Tab weighs 1.69 lbs. and measures 10.24" (W) x 7.0" (H) x 0.52" (D). It's heavier than the Motorola XOOM, Acer Eee Pad Transformer, Apple iPad 2, and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.

Full teardown gallery: Cracking Open the Acer Iconia Tab (A500)

Cracking Open observations

  1. Easy-open case: There are no external case screws on the Iconia Tab, but the back cover was surprisingly easy to remove. Using a thin metal or plastic blade, I was able to quickly pop off the cover.
  2. Standard screws: Inside the Iconia Tab, Acer used standard Phillips screws to hold the internal hardware in place. I was able to remove all the internal screws using a Phillips #0 bit.
  3. Battery can be replaced: The Iconia Tab's 3260 mAh Li-ion battery is easy to remove and replace.
  4. Display is stuck to the front panel: The front panel (digitizer) and LCD screen are held together with strong adhesive. Separating the two components could result in damage to either or both.
  5. 3G-ready motherboard and case: Acer left open spots on the motherboard and inside the case for a separate 3G card and antenna. The internal mounting plate even has screw holes for the card.
  6. Organized internal hardware layout: Compared to the Asus Eee Pad Transformer's cluttered interior, the Iconia Tab has a more organized internal design. Provided you could get replacement parts, this tablet shouldn't be too difficult to repair.

Internal hardware

Our Acer Iconia Tab A500 test unit had the following hardware components:

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

15 comments
seanreever
seanreever

I had an acer touchscreen laptop go out on me once and I had to getacer repair parts and do all the work myself. this would have been good info to have. Thanks for the good read.

Tahoez
Tahoez

I have had a Acer A500 for some time now and love it. But, on these pages, I learned that they're 3G ready. You just have to install a 3G card and proceed. However, nowhere can I find what card(s) will fit and work in the A500. Does anyone have that information and maybe even where I can get one? Thank you

jaymon4477
jaymon4477

I have one of these and have worried about over-charging my android, as I worry that will deteriorate my battery life. I've had that happen to a phone of mine, and love this tablet.

bblake12
bblake12

Is the digitizer user replaceable ? Are there any part numbers referencing the touch screen ?

mike1247
mike1247

Thanks for the information. Just want to ask for some confirmation. Is it possible to crack it, so we can put sim card inside it and use it as phone? www.ghuguuh.com

Santifer
Santifer

MY tablet has is stuck on a horrible "Enter your password___" lockscreen and after many failed attempts to reset it an unorthodox Geek squad told me that the tablet maybe reset from the inside. Does anyone know how?

joe_carton
joe_carton

I had two of the A501 models on order for a month only to find out that Acer had pulled the model from distribution before shipping it. They also removed it from their website. What gives?

HMNZksander
HMNZksander

Great tablet, however the Power Adapter connector which is connecting to the tablet is of very poor quality and need to be handled with extreme care as it easily breaks. Already through my second Adapter in 4 weeks.

jjcanaday
jjcanaday

I haven't looked at one your tear-downs in a long time. I really appreciate that you start on a summary page with ALL pertinent information but, still have a page by page (step by step) tear-down slide show. I think I'll start looking at more of these again. Thanks!

goglesby
goglesby

Is the memory chip on a socket so it can be ugarded from 16 to 32 or even higher assuming it is supported? Hard to tell from the picture.

ShaunComan
ShaunComan

Have had mine for months, pretty much when they were first released. I have had no problems with cord, I do baby my electronics though. Plus I love the unique features of it. I am able to use my 500GB External Hard drive with it, about as close has it has been to a tablet replicating a computer..love it!

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

I haven't actually used the Iconia's power adapter, but when I took out of the box, it felt fragile. It's unfortunate that Acer didn't include a more rugged adapter.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

I'm glad you like the analysis page. In the future, I hope to have an embeddable gallery player. It would let you flip through all the photos without having to move away from the blog post.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

Unfortunately, not. The NAND Flash chip used for storage is soldered to the motherboard, see the following photo: http://www.techrepublic.com/photos/cracking-open-the-acer-iconia-tab-a500/6279615?seq=63 The Toshiba Thrive is the only tablet I can think of off hand that has a removable storage chip and PCB. As I noted in my Thrive teardown analysis (http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/itdojo/toshiba-thrive-teardown-most-laptop-like-android-tablet/2775), I assume this let's Toshiba use the same motherboard for all Thrive models. You can however, use a microSD card with the Iconia Tab for more storage.