Lenovo, the Chinese PC maker, has made its entry into the tablet space with two Android Honeycomb tablets – the Lenovo IdeaPad K1 and the Lenovo ThinkPad tablet. While the ThinkPad tablet is targeted more towards the enterprise user, the IdeaPad K1 is Lenovo’s mainstream consumer offering.
Looks and feel
The Lenovo IdeaPad K1 doesn’t stand out much in terms of looks, with neither the futuristic design of the Sony Tablet S or the ultrathin dimensions of the iPad 2. That said, the tablet isn’t entirely devoid of embellishment. Lenovo offers three colour variants for the K1. One is the snazzy white and red option which is essentially an aluminium body with a glossy plastic back panel and the other two are aluminium and leather combos in black or brown colour options. For review we had the brown unit. Although it looks quite staid in comparison to the white and red variant, the advantage with this one is that the leather panel is completely resistant to smudges and also gives the tablet a nice grip. Apart from the 5-megapixel rear camera and stereo speakers at the bottom, the rear panel is quite bare, save a Lenovo brand name embossing.
The front panel is very plain, with a thick black bezel surrounding the screen. There’s a 2 Megapixel front camera on the top (in landscape mode) and a single physical Home button on right panel. Considering that Android Honeycomb 3.1 has onscreen controls, a physical button would tend to be quite redundant. However, this one has a few extra features. Long-pressing the button will capture a screenshot and swiping your finger over the button takes you back and forth between open apps, like an optical trackpad.
As far as ports and connectivity go, the left side hosts a power button, microphone, volume rocker switch, screen orientation lock and micro SD card tray.
On the right is a SIM card tray, which like the micro SD slot requires you to insert a pin to release it. The bottom has a micro HDMI port, 3.5mm headphone jack and a proprietary dock that can be used for charging, to transfer content via USB and to connect a physical keyboard dock (an optional extra). The tablet weighs in at 750g with a thickness of 13.3mm, making it much chunkier than the iPad 2.
Display and Interface
The Lenovo IdeaPad K1’s screen has a resolution of 1,280×800, putting it on par with the likes of Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. However despite this, the tablet’s brightness and contrast ratio seem quite poor in comparison, making it seem much more low-res than it actually is.
Many tablet and smartphone manufacturers tweak the Android OS with overlays and additions, and Lenovo hasn’t hesitated from making a few changes to Honeycomb 3.1. Although the company hasn’t opted for a skin, there are a few extras that you’ll notice on the home screen. Most obvious of all is the large widget that sits in the middle of the screen which Lenovo calls the ‘Lenovo Launcher’. Consisting of four shortcuts with a browser button in the middle, there’s also a handy Settings button located on the side. You can change the colour of the Launcher or choose to remove it completely if you wish.
The regular Honeycomb controls haven’t been tweaked except for the button which brings up open apps. Lenovo has marked a little ‘X’ on the corner of open apps allowing you to end them at a touch. There’s an additional button on the bottom panel which brings up a rotating semicircle of your favourite apps. You can add or remove apps according to your preference, although we did end up ignoring this button most of the time.
Camera and Apps
The 5-meg rear camera is quite a poor clicker even by tablet standards, which is a shame considering the controls Lenovo has on offer. A control wheel on the right side of the camera app allows you to adjust Flash, White Balance, Colour Effects, Scene modes and Exposure. In low light, colours are almost completely lost and the images are quite grainy. The camera fares better in daylight although images tend to be a tad washed out. It can also capture video in 720p HD. The front 2-meg camera is usable for Skype calls.
The Lenovo IdeaPad K1 comes loaded with apps, some of which you’ll find useful and some which you might think of as bloatware. Among these are AccuWeather.com, Amazon Kindle, Angry Birds HD, Norton Security, Documents To Go, Drawing Pad and Zinio. Lenovo throws in its own Social Touch app which integrates Email, Facebook, Twitter and your Calendar. It’s not the slickest of apps and you’d probably be better off downloading official or third-party apps off Google Play.
Lenovo has also added its own app store called the Lenovo App Shop, which is basically a condensed version of Google Play. It’s aesthetically pleasing and well organised but requires you to create an account which might deter many users.
The internals of the Lenovo IdeaPad K1 are pretty standard for a Honeycomb tablet: a dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor with 1GB RAM. However, we noticed more than a few lags when swiping between home screens, opening apps and multitasking.
When the IdeaPad K1 was initially launched, many users faced a problem with the Wi-Fi, which very often did not connect automatically after disconnecting. A software update seems to have fixed that problem, but an issue we had to contend with regularly was the fact that the tablet refused to wake up from sleep and tended to reboot constantly in sleep mode, resulting in the battery draining if we didn’t keep an eye on it. Lenovo is yet to come up with a software update to resolve this issue.
The Quadrant benchmark test gave us a result of 1,404, which is below average and less than what the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 scores.
The tablet comes with 32GB of internal storage, expandable by an additional 32GB via micro SD card. Lenovo estimates the battery life at about 10 hours but we got about 8 hours of usage with browsing, social networking, using email and watching videos.
The Lenovo IdeaPad K1 doesn’t really stand out among the throng of Honeycomb tablets flooding the market. However, if you’re looking for a 10.1-inch tab which allows you to perform regular tasks like email, Facebook, gaming and watching videos, the IdeaPad K1 is a good option at a price of Rs. 25,123.
- Good build
- Decent battery life
- Below average screen
- Lags in performance