The Acer Iconia A100 was launched in the United States on Friday, making it officially the first 7 inch Android tablet available.

When it comes to mobile technology, the 'lighter and cheaper' rule of thumb has long been a winning strategy. However, when Apple's iPad proved that consumers were willing to make room for the right features (and cool factor, of course). Companies like Acer decided that splitting the difference might be a winning way to steal some of the market share that Apple earned with an early lead and near-unanimous acclaim.

The A100 tablets weigh in at less than one pound, and also undercut the iPad in price; Acer's suggested retail prices are $329.99 for the 8GB version and $349.99 for the 16GB. The specs feature the same Nvidia Tegra 2 CPU that is found on Samsung's 10-inch Galaxy Tab, as well as 1GB of RAM, an SD slot, and both front and rear cameras. According to the company, the 1530 mAh Li-polymer battery will give up to five hours of Internet browsing with WiFi, and up to 4.5 hours of video playback.

With an eye on gaming and other control applications, Acer is touting the A100's "screen mirror" possibilities. The tablet sports a 1024×600, 16:10 capacitive touch screen and also HDMI out -- at 1080p, no less. The A100 also features six-axis motion-sensing gyrometers, which raises interesting -- although currently under-utilized -- possibilities for serious gaming.

Although the technology to design and manufacture Honeycomb tablets has seen a number of 10 inch screens brought to market since the A100 was first announced in January, it was only the release of Android version 3.2 that brought true screen scaling to support the smaller 7 inch tablets.

The A100 launched a few days earlier in Europe after working hard to meet the goal of beating rivals ViewSonic and Huawei (who, as of yet, have not brought their 7 inch tablets to market). While Acer Europe initially declared "The wait is over!" on August 4th, the first reports of the tablet in stores started to roll in earlier this week.


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