We’ve looked at Lenovo Android tablets over the past year or so, and, so far, none of them has blown us away. They’ve been able enough efforts, but none of them had that little bit extra to push it over the top.
The most recent of them was the Lenovo IdeaTab S2109A £179.99 at PCWorld. IdeaTab A2109A, which is a 9.7-inch slate with 16GB of memory and a Tegra 3 quad-core CPU.
This one has a few drawbacks. First, the A2109A’s cameras are sub-par compared to those in some other tablets we’ve seen. Second, and far more important, is the display: Its screen is mediocre, and a tablet is nothing if not its screen.
Consider that this IdeaTab’s display is the same resolution (1,200 x 800 pixels) as the £159-list Google Nexus 7 by Asus, a very popular 7-inch model with a great-looking, highly detailed screen. Even with its extra spread, the A2109A’s display panel is not nearly as vibrant and clear as the Nexus 7’s. Tablets—any tablet—should display graphics, videos, and photos well, but, as you’ll see in the Features & Apps section later in this review, this IdeaTab falls short in this way.
Aside from the less-than-stellar screen and cameras, though, the A2109A was a solid Android citizen. Music, video soundtracks, and games sound good, but, unfortunately, the lackluster display makes this a poor choice if you’ll be using your tablet mainly as a media-consumption device, such as for watching movies. The Google Nexus 7, even considering that the screen is smaller, displays videos much better, as does the aforementioned IdeaTab S2109 and several other slates near the same price.
Although this IdeaTab contains a respectable set of connectivity options, such as USB and HDMI-out, before we can recommend it as a personal entertainment device, it would need a better screen. As is, it’s a good fit for browsing Web sites, managing e-mail, texting, listening to music, and performing other non-graphics-intensive tasks. Quite a few other models of the same screen size (or smaller) work better for viewing videos and photos, though.
The IdeaTab A2109A, in comparison to most of today’s slates, looks thick and bulky, and it felt that way when we held it, too. On the other hand, at 0.5×9.5×6.75 inches (HWD, when you hold it in wide orientation) and weighing a hefty 1.3 pounds, it feels quite durable and stout.
Overall, it felt comfortable enough in our hands, but we didn’t like the sharp edges on the left and right sides, nor did we care much for the gray-metal back cover…
The back looks nice enough, but it has a smooth finish. Textured or coated back panels typically provide a more comfortable (and surer) grip.
Something else we didn’t like much was the placement of the MicroSD slot, which is outlined in red in the image below. It’s under a removable cover on the back of the tablet…
If only the IdeaTab A2109A had a higher-quality screen, we’d be more enthusiastic about it. Still, if you’re not looking for the ultimate media-consumption tablet, then, overall, this one is not bad. We do like its look and feel, and are impressed with its metal-reinforced “roll cage,” which is surely one of the reasons it’s so heavy. In addition, it performed well on our tests and delivered respectable battery life. (We can live with the mediocre cameras.)
Then, too, there’s the SRS-enhanced sound system—which makes this slate’s audio superior to what we’ve heard from several other models. It’s a shame that its crucial counterpart, the display quality, isn’t comparable. That would have made this tablet a fine video-watching device. Alas…
Our bottom line: One of two things—or both—must happen to make the IdeaTab A2109A a top-notch value. It needs a better screen, or Lenovo needs to drop the price. We do like it as an everyday communications device, though. It works for us as a good all-around tab for Web browsing, e-mail, texting, Facebook, and Twitter. And it’s durable enough to entrust it to the children in your household.