In the world of compact tablets, 8-inch is the new 7-inch. As consumers gravitate toward larger smartphones, they're looking at tablets with 8-inch screens as the ideal compromise: big enough to be different from their handsets but still light enough to carry and hold with one hand. Announced today, Lenovo's Tab S8 joins this trendy group, offering a clean Android experience on a sharp 1920 x 1200 screen for only $199.
Running a very lightly skinned version of Android 4.4 KitKat, the Lenovo Tab S8 is powered by Intel's quad-core, 1.3-GHz Atom Z3745 processor, which promises performance that's good enough for some serious gaming or video editing. Available in either Wi-Fi only or 4G LTE versions, the Tab S8 also has 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, front-facing Dolby-enhanced speakers and Bluetooth 4.0
The rear-facing camera on the Tab S8 captures 8-MP images with an f2.2 lens for better low-light performance, while a front-facing 1.6-MP shooter promises solid selfies and video chatting ability.
At just .31-inches thick and .65 pounds, the Lenovo Tab S8 was easy for us to lift with one hand. It's also a little bit thinner and lighter than the Dell Venue 8 (.74 pounds, .35 inches thick), which also costs $199 and runs Android 4.4 on a 1920 x 1200 screen with an Intel Atom processor. However the Venue 8's CPU has two cores instead of 4, provides only 1GB of RAM and sports a lower-resolution, 5-MP rear camera.
ASUS's MeMO Pad 8 ME181C is just a hare heavier and thicker (.71 pounds, .33 inches thick), but sports a lower resolution, 1280 x 800 display and a 5-MP rear camera for $179.
A raven-black bezel and soft-touch, black back give the Tab S8 a premium, yet understated aesthetic. The device also has an extremely thin bezel on the right and left sides of screen, giving it a thin profile when held in portrait mode.
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Lenovo claims that the device will get up to 7 hours of battery life, which would it put behind the Dell Venue 8's mark of 7 hours and 57 minutes, the tablet category average of 8 hours and 20 minutes and the ASUS MeMO Pad ME181C's time of 9:02. We'll find out whether Lenovo lives up to or beats this claim when we get the device in for review and run the Laptop Mag Battery Test.
In its press release, Lenovo touts the Tab S8's "infinity" screen's strong image quality. In our brief hands-on with the device, everything from the green plant on the desktop wallpaper to the app drawer icons looked both sharp and vibrant.
If you're looking for special features on top of Android, you'll want to look elsewhere. Though Lenovo provides different wallpapers and icons than stock Android, it doesn't add any bells and whistles like the multi window mode and gesture controls Samsung includes on its tablets. Lenovo does preload a few of its custom apps, including SHAREit, which lets you beam files back forth with other devices using Wi-Fi direct. However, Lenovo's SHAREit, SYNCit and Security apps have long been available for free to any Android user who wants to download them from the Play store.
There's no word yet about when the Lenovo Tab S8 will appear stateside, but we expect to see it on shelves in time for the holiday season.