Iconia Tab 10 A3-A20
This Android tablet has a decent-size screen for drawing, together with access to all the software and styluses you need to get started…
Price £180 cer’s Iconia Tab 10 A3-A20 joins a dizzying array of tablets in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Designed primarily for entertainment, it combines a widescreen display that’s ideal for watching videos and crunching Dolby sound with an unfussy design.
The Iconia Tab 10 is running Android 4.4 KitKat, which isn’t the newest version of Google’s mobile operating system, but can still handle the latest apps. Wisely, Acer hasn’t messed about too much with Google’s standard interface, which has developed to a point where it’s pleasing to use. There are rather more pre-loaded apps than you might want – especially when MobiSystems OfficeSuite, for example, is merely a 90-day trial – but otherwise this is an appealing and reasonably responsive hardware-software combo.
What we really want from a tablet, though, is a tool for spontaneous drawing on the move. Android is much better supported than it used to be in this respect, with big-name apps like Autodesk SketchBook Pro, Wacom Bamboo Paper and Adobe Photoshop Mobile all easily downloadable via the Google Play Store app.
SketchBook Pro or the free Express are instantly familiar to anyone who’s used them on an iPad or a desktop computer, with a small puck giving you rapid access to tools and settings while providing an uncluttered screen as you create. We also enjoyed using Artipunk’s Character Maker (interestingly, not yet out on iOS), which enables you to draw line art on top of a 3D figure you’ve posed first.
There’s no stylus included in the box, but plenty are available for purchasing separately, including Acer’s own Accurate Stylus. The brand-new Iconia Tab 8 model offers the enticing prospect of being able to draw on the screen using an ordinary graphite pencil instead of a stylus, something that the older display tech in the Tab 10 doesn’t allow. If you’re happy enough to draw with your finger, though, it’s an enjoyable experience. Some tablets use displays with relatively wide gaps between the touch-sensitive glass and the screen itself, which makes finger-drawing feel oddly disconnected, but there’s none of that here.
That’s not to say that the display is perfect for drawing and painting, however. Widescreen proportions may be great for watching video, but they cramp your style when you’re applying brushstrokes, compared with the more open scale of an iPad. The screen itself is no great shakes, with some low