A video game’s full potential can only be fully realized and appreciated when run on competent hardware. On the PC and console platforms this is an easily achievable proposition; it might be trickier within the limited confines of a tablet. Acer may just have come up with a portable gaming device that can do just that.
- The Predator 8 shares the same design language as Acer’s similarly branded series of gaming products. The Predator 8 distinguishes itself from run-of-the-mill tablets by way of angular speaker pods positioned at each of the device’s four front corners. The deep burgundy of the speaker grilles contrast with the glossy black of the display glass as well as the gunmetal gray frame. Centered at the tablet’s rear, finished in shiny chrome, is the Predator logo set into the brushed aluminum back plate. The back is finished off with a matte plastic pad on each side of the aluminum plate.
- Eight inches, I believe, offers the perfect size-to-weight ratio for a handheld gaming device. The display is large enough that you don’t unnecessarily strain your eyes while the unit weighs considerably less than the heftier 10-inch models. However, the Predator 8 can be a bit awkward to hold because of the positioning of its speakers; although you’ll get used to this quite quickly.
- The same Intel Atom x7 processor that powers the Microsoft Surface 3 powers the Predator 8. Even without the aid of benchmark tests, it was immediately apparent that this tablet is in a class above the rest. Be it high speed racing, hand-to-hand combat, or shoot ‘em ups, you will notice how responsive the tablet is to your taps or swipes. There is no split-second (or longer) hesitation that you’ve probably learned to cope with using other devices.
- If you must know, using a popular benchmark application, the Predator 8 scored with the highest 12 of all smart devices (phones included) and was the top ranking tablet.
- The power-efficient Atom x7 processor allows for extended gaming on the Predator 8 especially with power-hungry 3D games. These resource intensive games, which would normally kill batteries within an hour or two, were playable on the Predator 8 for three even four hours at a time. If your gaming merely involve swiping bright colored confectionaries around the screen, the 4.4A batteries will last the whole day; and maybe well into the night.
- One annoyance, though, is the lack of a visual or audible notification of low battery levels while in full screen game mode. The tablet will, once its battery gets to below five percent, just shut down leaving you ten yards or one punch short of a victory.
- Display quality is astonishing. Acer claims that the entire range of NTSC (TV broadcast) colors can be reproduced by the Predator 8. While I have no way to measure that, I’m more than inclined to believe them. The display exhibits bright, vibrant, and fully saturated colors complemented by deep contrast. Four presets tailor screen characteristics to suit whatever the viewing mode—game, movie, photos, and standard.
- The four speaker configuration, Quadio, I realized was more than just a gimmick. While it doesn’t really provide true “surround sound,” it does widen the sound stage offering a more immersive gaming or video streaming experience. You will inevitably cover, with your hands, one or two of these speaker while playing a game; be glad there’s four of them. You can’t say that much with your other tablet.
- I’m not too sold on the force feedback functionality though. Aside from the bundled Asphalt 8: Airborne, very few apps support it, and its implementation in the game is far from stimulating. It’s nice knowing, however, that once applications come with the feature, you will be ready for it.
- With all that gaming power, the tablet can get quite warm (but never hot). Combine this with the rumbling of the haptic motors and you’re bound to tire your hands quite quickly. This is probably the price one has to pay for extended gaming.
- Another potential hazard with the Predator 8 is eye strain. It’s extremely difficult to take one’s gaze away from the screen. Thankfully, Acer has the Predator 8 fitted with Bluelight Shield, an application that controls the amount of blue light used to display the image, protecting the eyes from the damage.
- It goes without saying that the Predator 8 is an able all-rounder. The tablet runs Android 5.1, an updated version of Lollipop which offers performance and stability improvements. It is fitted with 2GB memory and 32GB storage (expandable to 128GB via microSD). It supports multiple users; each with their own distinct set of applications and accounts. It also allows multi-tasking or running two applications simultaneously on split screens.
- The 2-megapixel and 5-megapixel (front and rear) cameras fitted on the Predator 8, on the other hand, are rather unimpressive. It is puzzling why Acer stopped short of delivering what, in my opinion, would be a perfect tablet.
The Predator 8 is Wi-Fi only. This is quite a letdown since most games need to phone home to function properly. The idea of tethering to another device might be a complete deal breaker to some.
The Acer Predator 8 comes very, very close to perfection. After two weeks with the device, I am ready to retire my two-year old tablet. The combination of good looks, able performance, and affordability make the Predator 8, literally and figuratively, hard to put down.
Display: 8” WUXGA (1,920 x 1,200 resolution), multi-touch
Operating system: Android 5.1 Lollipop
Processor: Intel Atom x7 2.4GHz quad-core
GPU: Intel HD Graphics Gen 8-LP (600MHz)
Memory: 2GB LPDDR3
Storage: 32GB (expandable via microSD up to 128GB)
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n, Bluetooth, USB 2.0
Camera: 5MP rear, 2MP front
Battery: Li-Po 4,420mAh
Dimensions & weight: 218 x 127 x 8.7mm, 350g