Sturdy, lightweight build; Powerful speakers; Good battery life; Uncluttered Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
Low-resolution display; Not the fastest CPU; Pricey for the overall package
The Lenovo IdeaTab S2109 offers a bright screen and long battery life, but doesn't measure up to the Android tablet competition in other ways.
Consumers who are partial to the iPad's size but wish to stick to Android should be interested in the Lenovo IdeaTab S2109. This tablet runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and sports the same 9.7-inch 1024 x 768 pixel display as Apple's 1st- and 2nd-gen slate. But considering its other components, is $349 a fair price?
DesignASUS Transformer Pad TF300 (10.4 x 7.1 x 0.38 inches, 1.4 pounds) and the new Apple iPad (9.5 x 7.31 x 0.37 inches, 1.44 pounds).
We admire the overall look of the IdeaTab S2109, which has a streamlined, curved design. The back of the slate has a smooth aluminum finish in gunmetal gray, while the Lenovo logo sits smack-dab center in white lettering. Also on the back, you'll find four SRS surround-sound speakers, two each on the left and right sides.
Our biggest complaint about the S2109's design is that Lenovo couldn't seem to decide whether buyers would use this device in portrait or landscape mode. And that's odd because Google's software is optimized for landscape view.
The microSD card slot (which accepts cards up to 64GB), a micro-HDMI port, micro-USB, and the power connector all sit on the bottom in portrait mode. A reset pinhole also lies between micro-USB and the proprietary jack for charging.
More importantly, the display can't hold a candle to such sharper (and more densely packed) screens as the Google Nexus 7 and the ASUS Transformer TF300, which both have 1280 x 800-pixel displays. This decidedly low-resolution screen showed off pixelated text on sites such as The New York Times and LAPTOP Magazine.
The S2109 also has wide viewing angles. Three people were able to sit side by side and comfortably watch an HD trailer of "Oz: The Great and Powerful" on YouTube. Even better, colors were pleasingly accurate. As Oscar the small-time magician drifted over the vibrant city of Oz on his hot air balloon, we saw dreamy azure skies up above and lush green fields below.
At times, the audio grew slightly tinny, especially when playing back high-pitched notes, but that's characteristic of most tablets. Overall, we found much to like in these high-quality speakers.
The IdeaTab S2109 handles most types of media with ease. The tablet supports file types such as Xvid, DivX, MPEG4, H.264 and AVI videos up to 1080p (there's also 1080p video output via the micro-HDMI port). In terms of audio, MP3, AAC, FLAC, OGG, WAV and WMA are compatible.
Supplementary gimmicks abound with the Go Keyboard, such as smiley faces, a handwriting input option and voice notes, but ultimately, we didn't think any of these items were indispensable.
Software and User Interface
We appreciated the ability to create folders on the home screens and to take screenshots by holding the power and volume down button simultaneously. If only the tablet included the ability to open essential apps--such as our email or the Web browser--right from the lock screen, we would have been more satisfied.
However, we liked the addition of File Browser, a nifty little app that allowed us to access files on the local drive. The S2109 also comes with SRS sound settings, which let you switch the speakers from music to movie mode as needed.
The usual suite of Google apps is also preloaded, including Gmail, Maps, Play (Google's hub for apps, books, music, and movies) and YouTube.
The Lenovo IdeaTab S2109 features a 1-GHz dual-core TI OMAP 4430 processor and 1GB of RAM, which delivered only moderate performance in our testing. This is unsurprising, given that the more powerful quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 chip is generally the more favored CPU of choice in tablets nowadays, including the cheaper Google Nexus 7.
On the CPU portion of the Benchmark app, the IdeaTab S2109 scored 2,857, falling below the ASUS Transformer Pad TF300 (3,613; 1.2GHz quad-core Tegra 3 CPU) and the Nexus 7 (3,612; 1.3-GHz quad-core Tegra 3 CPU). At least this slate surpassed the tablet category average of 2,813, but only by a hair.
The S2109 did much better graphics-wise. It posted a score of 7,532 on An3DBench, outstripping the category average of 7,299. However, it was outclassed yet again by both the Transformer TF300 (7,705) and the Nexus 7 (7,782) on the same test.
In real-life testing, the S2109 performed fairly well. Apps launched smoothly, we swiped through the five homescreens fluidly, and on the whole, performance was relatively lag-free. We did notice some latency when switching between the Chrome browser and the "Tiki Kart 3" game. While the water racing game "Riptide GP" played smoothly, the level of detail on screen was noticeably lacking versus HD Android tablets.
We used the front-facing camera to video chat with a friend via a Google+ Hangout, and noted that sound was rather faint and scratchy while video quality did not impress. Our friend said we looked a little pixelated, and we definitely observed some video stuttering and jaggedness.
Also of note is the camera's somewhat awkward placement when using the device in landscape mode; because it's positioned on the left-hand side of the tablet, we often inadvertently covered it with our thumb.
Equipped with a robust 6,720 mAh battery, the IdeaTab S2109 lasted 8 hours and 31 minutes on the LAPTOP Battery Test (continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi). That's longer than the ASUS Transformer Pad TF300, which lasted 7 hours on Balanced mode, the Nexus 7 (7:26) and well above the category average of 6:46.
Our Lenovo IdeaTab S2109 unit features a 1-GHz dual-core OMAP 4430 CPU, 1GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage for $349. Curiously, there is also an 8GB variant offered on Lenovo's website, but it may not even be worth considering given its Web price of $389.
The Lenovo IdeaTab S2109 comes with a one-year standard limited warranty.
|CPU||dual-core TI OMAP 4430 processor|
|Storage Drive Size|
|Storage Drive Type|
|Front-Facing Camera Resolution||1.3MP|
|Card Reader Size|
|Warranty / Support|
|Size||9.7 x 7.3 x 0.35 inches|