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.
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.
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?
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:
2GB internal storage, expandable to 16GB
3350 mAH battery
7″ LED Display 1024×600 pixels (170 PPI)
802.11 b/g/n Wifi
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.