Lenovo IdeaPad A1 7″ Tablet Review

March 15, 2012
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What’s good:

A well-rounded tablet for the price. The Lenovo IdeaPad A1 has everything you could need from a slate, including a decent screen, GPS, Bluetooth, and a front and back facing camera. It’s a fully-functional, ultra-portable, and very affordable tablet.

What’s bad:

The specs leave something to be desired. Almost all of the hardware and software on the tablet is from the top of the line phones of 2010. While, today, the A1 will do almost everything you want it, it’s definitely not future proof.

The short of it:

The Lenovo IdeaPad  A1 is a great entry-level 7″ tablet. Its lightweight, durable, and versatile. While there are other tablets out there with better screens, they don’t have half of the features the IdeaPad A1 has.

Video Review

 The Lenovo IdeaPad A1 7″ Tablet

Today’s tablet market is cut-throat. With low priced Android tablets such as the Kindle Fire cornering the 7-inch market, it can be hard for a company such a Lenovo to enter the scene. Lenovo labels the IdeaPad A1 the tablet that “Comes with everything. Except a hefty price tag.” But does that low price tag mean low quality?

Specs

The A1’s specs are not cutting-edge, but they are adequate for all intents and purposes. You will definitely be able to play Angry Birds or watch a movie on Netflix without any problems. If you are looking for something a little more cutting-edge, I recommend you look else where, but, remember, you will be paying for it.

IdeaPad A1 specs:

  • 1GHz Processor
  • 512 Ram
  • 2GB internal storage, expandable to 16GB
  • 3350 mAH battery
  • Assisted GPS
  • 7″ LED Display 1024×600 pixels (170 PPI)
  • Multi-Touch Display
  • 802.11 b/g/n Wifi
  • Bluetooth 2.1

Form Factor

When I first held the Lenovo IdeaPad A1, I noticed a few things right away. First it was light, weighing in at under a pound. My arms never felt fatigue from holding it, and sometimes, when I got absorbed by using it, I even forgot I had it in my hands. Next, was the IdeaPad A1’s shape. I really liked how the bottom and the top of the tablet take a different shape as you run your fingers across it. When holding it horizontally, this curvature on the top and the bottom of the tablet make the A1 easy to grip. Plus, the shape really complements the thin profile of Lenovo’s tablet. With other slates, I’ve felt them as being too thin, due to the form factor and build. This is not the case with the IdeaPad, because all the design elements come together nicely. I really appreciated the IdeaPad’s design when I watched a movie on a hours-long road trip down to Minneapolis — not once did I have to put it down or re-adjust its position.

External ports and controls

The IdeaPad A1 has all the standard ports and controls you would expect from any Android tablet – a headphones jack, a microSD card slot, plus a mic, volume rocker, and power switch on the top of the right side. While there is nothing special here, I am happy to note that the power switch is positioned in an appropriate spot, and I rarely hit it on accident. Overall, the IdeaPad A1 has everything you need to transfer media files from your PC to the tablet, and, of course, to listen to music through headphones.

Side

Screen/Speakers

The screen is considered by many to be among the most important parts of a tablet or phone, which is obvious when you consider that it provides the primary way to interact and consume content on your device. A slew of aspects have to be taken into account when gauging a display, including viewing angles, screen technology, pixel density, and others. Until the Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire came along, under-$200 tablets had long had a bad name, particularly due to their poor screen quality, which is something that, today, is no longer excusable. Everything about the screen of the IdeaPad A1 is OK. The viewing angles are ok, but when watching videos with my fiancee, I had to make sure I held it just right, so both of us could see. The resolution is identical to the Nook Tablet’s or the Kindle Fire’s, but the screen itself just doesn’t deliver the same “wow” effect. On another note, the touchscreen  did not seem to be quite as sensitive on the edges as it was in the middle, which, at times, made typing difficult. However, this was just an annoyance, and most of the times, the touchscreen was quite responsive.

Next, we have the speaker, which is located on the bottom-side of the tablet. I think that this positioning is much better than having the speakers on the back, like some other tablets do. It makes it much easier to listen to music or movies, without straining my ears. The sound is crisp and clear, but it does lack bass. If you are looking to get better range and sound quality from the IdeaPad A1, I would recommend picking up some nice earphones.

Battery Life

Like all portable devices, the battery life of the Lenovo IdeaPad A1 depends on what you are doing with it – the spec sheet says 6 hours of watching videos, 7.5 hours of playing 2D games or using an app, and 8 hours of listening to music. The battery is fairly capable, and easily lasted as long as Lenovo claims. You will have no problem watching a movie on the A1, as well as doing a bunch of other things, with a single charge.

Software

The software on the Lenovo IdeaPad A1 is nothing exciting, but this is a good thing. The OS is stock Android 2.3.4, with some very minor User Interface (UI) modifications.  These minor UI changes provide some extra functionality to the home screen, although, I would have liked to have the option to remove the launcher. I did install Go Launcher on the A1 after a day or so, customized it a bit, and got rid of the Lenovo launcher. On a good note, I found little bloatware on the Lenovo IdeaPad A1, and even that was easy to remove.

The Verdict

After spending some quality time with the Lenovo IdeaPad A1, the only thing I can say is that I like it, for the price. I recommended one to my mom when she was looking for a small tablet in the $200 price range. I would get one to let my kids watch movies during a road trip, and I would even consider one for myself, if I needed a tablet that is more portable than my Xoom. The bottom line — the Lenovo IdeaPad A1 is a solid and functional, even if not dazzling Android tablet.

Comments

  • Ohjjg_gdhgf

    shit tablet not a dule core the least

  • http://www.apexcctv.com cctv camera guy

    Thanks for the review!

  • Yusof921

    surprisingly the screen doesn’t auto rotate.

    • tnln@frontier. com

      It does auto rotate-check the switch above the volume bar and make sure the setting is checked to auto rotate

  • dazed

    guys where did you download your apps from? having difficulty with mine. no android market app installed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/myford.prefect Myford Prefect

    The battery is crap. Six months down the road it cannot hold a charge

  • LeNoGo

    “the touchscreen did not seem to be quite as sensitive on the edges … However,
    this was just an annoyance,” is quite an understatement. It is *incredibly* irritating and is presumablly down to hardware as I’ve tried installing a variety of keyboards (default, GO, Google, etc.) but they all seem to suffer from this problem. Also the swipe and pinch-zoom transitions are very laggy. Sometimes I don’t even know if it has registered my actions until a second or so later, particularly if I have a download going on at the same time. It shouldn’t have to be like this. Not comparing like-for-like but my JB’ed iPhone 4 doesn’t suffer any such issues with its similar screen resolution and single-core CPU.

  • grandmom

    I would like a keyboard that would work with this tablet. Does anyone know of one?

  • tracy

    I have a lenovo tablet and it wont let me use keyboard and keeps saying sorry The process android.process.acore has stopped unexpectedly. Please try again. Anyone no what to do to fix this? I called the free 1866791001 number and they were gonna charge me to ask a questions.