Android this week: Acer A200 tablet; a must-have app; Ice Cream Sandwich rolls out

Android(s goog) was everywhere at this month’s Consumer Electronics Show, but the downside to the event is that many products don’t hit retail shelves for months. Acer took a decidedly different approach by launching the A200 tablet at CES and getting it in stores soon after. A 16 GB version of the A200 is now available at Best Buy(s bbuy) for $349, or $100 less than last year’s A500 slate. But outside of the price drop, there isn’t much that’s different in this 10.1-inch tablet refresh.
Just like the old A500, Acer chose a 1 GHz dual core processor and the Honeycomb version of Android for the new A200. The device is lighter and keeps the many ports from the prior model: Full-sized USB, microSD card slot and micro USB jack to name a few. Gone is the rear camera on the A200, but it does keep a 2 megapixel front-facing sensor for video chatting or images. At this price, the A200 is surely worth a look and will be even more attractive once Acer pushes out the expected software update to Android 4.0; possibly as early as next month.
Motorola(s mmi) Xoom Wi-Fi tablet owners don’t have to wait for a taste of Ice Cream Sandwich, however. The company began to roll out Android 4.0.3 to the Xoom this week and will continue to push the software out in waves. The updated software could help give new life for the first Android tablet, which arrived nearly a year ago to generally mediocre reviews.
How much will Android 4.0 improve the experience on a Xoom tablet? That will vary by each individual’s needs, but overall the device is better with the updated software according to Jason Perlow of ZDNet. He used a enthusiast-created version for two weeks and then got the official upgrade a few days earlier than consumers. There are still some rough edges in the operating system, he says, but most will welcome the improved interface on their tablet.
While I wait for Android 4.0 to appear on my own 10.1-inch tablet, I’m enjoying Android 4.0 on my smartphone and this week found a new app that I consider a “must try”, if not a “must have” for Android devices. Wikipedia finally debuted its Android app this week and while you could use a browser to access the online encyclopedia, I find the free app in the Android Market much better. Simple sharing of Wikipedia entries, support for offline article reading and GPS-powered local Wikipedia results all add to the experience.