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Lenovo IdeaPad A1 Tablet Review: First Impressions

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The Lenovo IdeaPad A1 tablet has just come in for review and we are going to be putting it through the paces over the next week or so.

If you’re not familiar with the IdeaPad A1 tablet, it’s an Android Gingerbread based slate that launched back in October of 2011. Lenovo clearly did not have the iPad in mind when it launched the IdeaPad A1.

Instead, Lenovo went after Amazon’s Kindle Fire, another Android-based tablet that launched just a month after the IdeaPad A1. Both tablets feature a variation of Android Gingerbread. Both tablets have a 7-inch display. And both arrived with a price tag of $199.

(Read: Lenovo Ideapad A1 7-Inch Android Tablet Hands-On.)

This isn’t an iPad killer but instead, a device that Lenovo thinks can stand toe-to-toe with the likes of the Kindle Fire and Barnes and Noble’s Nook Tablet. And it’ll also have some more competition arriving soon in the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2.

So can it compete with the big boys?

That’s a question we hope to answer over the course of the review.

To start though, I want to offer up some of my first impressions of Lenovo’s IdeaPad A1 tablet.

I am going to be brutally honest here. When I first got my hands on the box, I wasn’t expecting much. I knew that it was a Gingerbread tablet and I knew that it had a 7-inch screen. This almost immediately brought me back into the nightmare that was the original Samsung Galaxy Tab but I opened the box anyway.

And I’m glad I did.

IdeaPad A1 Front

The IdeaPad A1 is an extremely well-crafted tablet and I am still bewildered as to how it’s available at the $199 price point. With all of the talk about the Kindle Fire, this tablet has flown under the radar which, after handling it for a few hours, seems odd to me.

Odd, because it has great build quality. Odd, because it has a great IPS display with Gorilla Glass. And odd, because of how well it seems to handle apps, Android and the web, even with its single-core processor.

I am easily able to hold it in one hand, essentially for a tablet that has a 7-inch display, and I feel like it’s light enough where I can easily slip it into a jacket pocket without feeling burdened.

Oh, and let’s not forget the design. At $199, you can’t expect much more than plastic – which the IdeaPad A1 employs, but it does have a nice looking magnesium band that encompasses the entire tablet. Buttons included.

It also has a microSD card slot for memory expansion – love that, and the 3.5mm headphone jack is on the top of the tablet. I’ve always preferred that over placement at the bottom.

While I’m still poking around the software and haven’t yet delved into the battery life – which is said to be around seven hours, I’ll say this.

I realize the tablet is rocking Gingerbread but so far so good. I haven’t experienced any slow down, apps open when I tell them to, web browsing is good, and I rather like Lenovo’s Launcher widget which greeted me once I unlocked the IdeaPad A1.

It’s pretty impressive that Lenovo was able to load all of these features in a device that costs a mere $199.

Right now, I have high hopes for the IdeaPad A1 tablet and I’m looking forward to digging in deeper to see if it can indeed compete with the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet for the hearts and minds of consumers looking to get fully featured tablet without the hefty price tag.

23 Comments

  1. Corey Mcentyre

    02/14/2012 at 7:04 pm

    I’m interessted in its GPS capabilities. I’ve read its worth the price for that alone…what’s your take? What’s so great about its GPS?

  2. Dphillips

    02/15/2012 at 5:00 am

    I bought one when Lenovo first put them on their site. When it arrived I found it to be very disappointing when compared to the original Galaxy Tab I had owned a year earlier. Loading my email accounts was not as easy as it had been on the TAB. To complicate things it had a soft ware issue that caused it to shut down completely when the screen was simply set to turn off. Even when the screen was set to NEVER shut down the unit shut off after a few minutes and had to reboot. Lenovo had no solution and they never offered a replacement only a return. Very unimpressed. Also after three android tablets I can’t get excited about newest versions of the OS. I am excited about Windows 8 slates!

  3. Anonymous

    02/15/2012 at 5:42 pm

     http://lnk.co/IHOTL

  4. Seyfarth16

    02/16/2012 at 7:29 pm

    I received my A1 last November.  For $199 it is an absolute gem. 
    Solidly built.  Good size for portability when traveling.  Reliably
    satisfies all of my reasons for buying a tablet: email, web surfing,
    youtube, Kindle app, Netflix app, Maps, and various android market apps.
    Good memory and battery life.   It has satellite based gps, but I find I
    don’t really use it much when bicycling or hiking because of the tablet
    size (vs. my garmin), but it is available when traveling.  I’ve always
    been a fan of IBM/Lenovo Thinkpad quality and the A1 has been no
    exception.

    • Mathew

      02/29/2012 at 5:15 pm

      I agree with everything you said.  For $199, you can’t go wrong.  Is it an iPAD?  No.  But is it also $500?  No.  It’s portable, has good battery life, and is great for surfing the web, e-mail, Netflix, games, etc.  It’s solidly built and has brought hours and hours and hours of enjoyment to me.  I have NO complaints.

  5. Cristiano Ferizt

    03/01/2012 at 8:40 pm

    I want this tab…

    IdeaPad A1 Specs

  6. Servantichristi

    03/09/2012 at 12:28 pm

    How is it as e-reader and can you read and edit basic MS Office; Word, Excel and alike?

  7. Kcrego

    03/10/2012 at 12:43 pm

    thanks for the comments! I am going to order one now. I just want a simple tablet for when I travel, my then start of the art laptop is too big to open on the plane and too heavy. I cant carry my laptop case and camera gear.  I want it for email and quick docs.

    • Kcrego

      03/10/2012 at 2:25 pm

      http://android-sale.com/lenovo-ideapad-a1-7-inch-android-tablet.html

      Specifications:

      Model: Lenovo Ideapad A1

      Display: 7 inch touchscreen, 10240*600 pixels display, multi-touch capacitive screen

      Operating System: Android 2.3 OS

      Processor: 1GHz ARM Cortex-A8 ProcessorCamera: 3MP back camera + 0.3MP front camera

      RAM: 512MB DDR2 Memory
      ROM: 2GB Storage, support extend MicroSD Card, up to 32GB

      WLAN: WiFi: 802.11 b/g
      3G: No
      Orientation sensor: G-sensor ,automatic steering display screen , 3-D graphics acceleration
      Application: download

      Support E-mail: G-mail, Yahoo mail , Hotmail . POP3 and SMTP account are supported
      Communication software : Fring, SkypeOut, MSN,Skype and Gtalk.
      Browser: Opera, UCweb, Chrome…
      Others: Weather, Clock, Calendar, Calculator, Contacts, Picture Capture
      With E-Book function , office word processing and document to go( Microsoft word,Excel, PPT and PDF)
      Audio Playing: MP3, WAV, AAC, WMA, OGG, 3GP, FLAC
      Video Playing: 720P video playing ,Video Formats: MPEG1/2/4, MJPG, H263, H264
      Flash: Support Flash 10.1 (Youtube)
      Game: Support 3D Game
      Slot List: MicroSD *1 (up to: 32GB), micro-USB Slot *1, 3.5mm Headphone Jack *1,

      Size: 195*125*11.95mm
      Weight: 400g
      Battery: 3550mAh, standby time about 7 hours
      Language: English, Chinese …What in Package:1 * Lenovo Ideapad A1 Android Tablet1 * Charger1 * Manual1 * USB cable

  8. jingbe

    05/09/2012 at 12:24 pm

    question: can u get itunes and pandora on this tablet lenovoa1 ? i tried downloading both, but cant get it to open. yahoo messenger cam dont work. i tried that….dont have skype yet.

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