Looking for a tablet that offers equal parts entertainment and productivity? Lenovo's IdeaTab S2110A may have what you need. This 10.1-inch tablet packs a 1.5-GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM for your entertainment needs and comes with an optional keyboard dock for when you need to crank out a report for the boss. But with a price closing in on $500, is this Android tablet asking too much for too little?
The IdeaTab S2110A is a fairly nondescript Android tablet. Its 10.1-inch display is surrounded by a roughly 1-inch black bezel. Up top, when held in portrait mode, is the IdeaTab's 1.3-megapixel camera, and along the bottom is a silver Lenovo logo. A matte gray band running along the IdeaTab's edges adds some character. The IdeaTab's rear features an understated, if not handsome, black textured thatchwork pattern. At its center is an inlaid silver Lenovo logo. Up in the top right corner is the S2110A's 5-megapixel rear-facing shooter.
On the S2110A's right is a gray volume rocker that sticks out ever-so-slightly and a razor-thin speaker grille. Along the top is the S2110A's microphone and silver power button, while the left side plays host to the tablet's other speaker grille, a 3.5mm headphone jack, microHDMI port and, on select models, a SIM card slot. On the IdeaTab's lower edge is its microUSB port and twin keyboard dock connectors.
Despite its larger size, the 10.2 x 7.0 x 0.34-inch IdeaTab S2110A weighs a hair less than Apple's 9.5 x 7.31 x 0.37-inch new iPad, 1.25 pounds versus the iPad's 1.44 pounds. The IdeaTab also barely undercuts ASUS' 10.4 x 7.1 x 0.38-inch Transformer Pad TF300, which weighs in at 1.4 pounds.
The IdeaTab's plastic build proved somewhat flexible when held in two hands, and left us questioning whether it would be able to stand up to the rigors of frequent use.
The IdeaTab sports a 10.1-inch 1280 x 800 resolution IPS display. That's not nearly as sharp as the new iPad's 2048 x 1536 Retina Dislay or the ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity's 1920 x 1200 display, but is the same as the ASUS TF300. With a 440 lux rating, the IdeaTab's screen is brighter than both the iPad (386 lux), Infinity (433) and TF300 (331 lux).
Overall, however, the display's sharpness was adequate. While watching a trailer for the next James Bond thriller, "Skyfall," we could easily see the creases in Daniel Craig's furrowed brow and the salt- and-pepper stubble covering his face. Colors were also vibrant, and viewing angles went on forever; we could watch the trailer from a near 180-degree angle.
The IdeaTab S2110A's two superslim speakers positioned pumped out an impressive amount of audio thanks to its SRS TruMedia audio software. Volume was easily loud enough to fill a large conference room and overall audio quality was exceptionally crisp and clear, but bass output was sorely lacking. While listening to The Black Keys' "Lonely Boy," guitar riffs and drum hits were clean, but bass hits were difficult to make out.
Software and Interface
The IdeaTab is loaded with a lightly skinned version of Google's Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. You get the usual five home screens, as well as the standard Android notifications center in the bottom right corner of the screen. In the bottom left corner of the screen, you'll find the ever-present Android navigation buttons, including Back, Home, Recent Apps and Settings.
The biggest change Lenovo made is the way it handles home screen folders. Instead of the small difficult-to-read folders found in standard versions of the operating system, Lenovo provides users with large folder icons styled after classic manila envelopes. Apps stored in the folders are easily visible, making organizing your home screens far simpler.
Beyond changes to the folder settings, Lenovo has also added various options to the Android settings menu. Pressing the three small dots to the right of the Recent Apps icon in the lower bar brings up Preferences, Manage Apps, System Settings, Add More Capacity and One Touch Clear. The Preferences menu allows you to choose from nine different animations when scrolling between the IdeaTab's five home screens. One such is Bounce, which makes the icons on each screen bounce away as you swipe to a different home screen. Manage Apps and System Settings tabs give users access to the IdeaTab's apps and system settings menus, respectively, while Add More Capacity allows users to quickly add app shortcuts to the IdeaTab's home screens. The One Touch Clear option lets you completely wipe a home screen clean of all content.
Typing on the IdeaTab S2110A's stock Android virtual keyboard was a breeze thanks to its large keys and general responsiveness. With the tablet laying flat on a tablet, we were able to type documents in Words to Go as quickly as we would on a standard physical keyboard.
Lenovo also includes the GO Keyboard virtual keyboard app. The app offers users a host of customization options, including the ability to change its size, theme and colors. The Swype-style Sliding mode was responsive and easily able to pick up on our inputs. Unfortunately, the default keyboard was not conducive to the IdeaTab's size, making typing on it difficult. Even when we increased the size of the keys, we still found typing on the GO Keyboard more difficult than the standard Android board.
It's not often that we don't like a Lenovo keyboard, but the keyboard dock that came with the IdeaTab was a mixed bag. We appreciated the two full-size USB 2.0 ports and 3-in-1 card reader located on the dock's left side, but the keys are on the small side. We regularly found ourselves hitting keys adjacent to those we wanted to press. Also, the keyboard suffers from a severe amount of flex. Still, we like the fact that the function row keys are Android-specific: Settings, Search and volume controls were just a button press away.
At 10.2 x 7.5 x 0.4 inches and weighing 1.4 pounds, the keyboard dock more than doubles the IdeaTab's weight and nearly doubles its thickness. By comparison, the TF300's weight increases to 2.5 pounds with its 10.3 x 7.25 x 0.75-inch keyboard dock.
Our IdeaTab S2110A came with a 1.5-GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 1GB of RAM and 16GB of on-board storage. Unfortunately, the IdeaTab doesn't include a microSD card slot. Overall, performance was snappy and generally lag-free. We did notice a bit of slowdown when flipping between home screens, but that appeared to be a result of Lenovo's customizable animations more than anything.
On the CPU Benchmark test, the IdeaTab scored a solid 5,265. That's higher than the 1.6-GHz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3-powered ASUS TF700's score of 5,220, the TF300's score of 3,613, and more than 2,000 points higher than the category average of 2,840.
The IdeaTab stumbled a slightly on the An3DBench graphics test, pulling down a score of 7,284, falling just short of the category average of 7,297. Meanwhile, the Tegra-powered ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity ripped through the test with a score of 7,937, as did the TF300 (7,705).
The IdeaTab, however, managed to rebound on the Linpack benchmark, scoring a 60.7 in single-thread mode and 127.9 in multithread mode. The Transformer Pad Infinity could only muster a score of 56.1 in single-thread mode and 80.6 in multithread, while the category average came in at 38.6 in single-thread and 63.5 in multithread.
Lenovo filled the IdeaTab S2110A with a multitude of apps, including Evernote, ES File Explorer, Norton Mobile Security and more. The included Docs to Go word processing app proved particularly useful when used with the IdeaTab's keyboard dock.
The IdeaTab includes 5GB of free cloud-based storage through SugarSync. Skype and ooVoo HD apps are also available for video chatting with friends and family, while Zinio provides users with access to available digital versions of their favorite magazines. The IdeaTab also includes an FM tuner, which, when you plug in headphones, allows you to listen to FM stations using apps such as iHeartRadio and Slacker.
Although there's a folder for the Lenovo App Shop, Lenovo shut down this store after the tablet shipped. Fortunately, you can access the Google Play Store, which has more than 600,000 apps.
Camera and Camcorder
An image of the New York skyline shot using the IdeaPad S2110A's 5-megapixel rear-facing camera looked spectacularly sharp, but bricks looked muted and a green dome in the distance appeared washed out. The IdeaPad's panorama feature was excellent, stitching photos together seamlessly to create a large image of several nearby rooftops.
A 1080p video captured using the IdeaTab's rear-facing camera was sharp, with colors appearing to pop off of the screen.
Conversely, the IdeaTab's 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera produced images that were pixelated and lacking in detail.
Strapped with a 2-cell lithium ion battery, the IdeaTab S2110A lasted an impressive 8 hours and 16 minutes on our LAPTOP Battery test, which involves continuous Web browsing via Wi-Fi with the display brightness set to 40 percent. ASUS' Transformer Pad Infinity threw in the towel at 7 hours and 39 minutes, the TF300 lasted 7 hours, and the category average called for the bell in 6 hours and 53 minutes. Connect the IdeaTab to its optional keyboard dock and you'll get an incredible 13 hours and 22 minutes of battery life.
Configurations and Warranty
Lenovo offers three configurations of the IdeaTab S2110A. Our version included a 1.5-GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor, 1GB of RAM and 16GB of on-board storage and a keyboard dock for $499. Drop the keyboard dock and you'll knock off $70 for a base price of $429. If you're looking for more built-in storage, Lenovo offers a 32GB version of the S2110A for $469. Add the keyboard dock to that version of the tablet and the price jumps to $579. If you purchase the keyboard separately from the tablet, it'll cost $100. While Lenovo advertises a model with optional 3G on its site, that version is not yet available.
Lenovo's $499 IdeaTab S2110A is a snappy 10-inch tablet with great battery life and capable rear-facing camera. The included keyboard dock adds a further dimension of functionality. However, we don't like the flex in the tablet and the keyboard dock, nor the fact that the tablet lacks an SD card slot. For $50 more, you can pick up the ASUS Transformer Pad TF300 and its keyboard dock, both of which felt a little sturdier. Still, if you're looking for an Android tablet with excellent endurance, the Lenovo IdeaPad S2110A is a good choice.