Lenovo IdeaTab A2109 - A Typical Midrange Android Tablet

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The Lenovo IdeaTab A2109 is a strong tablet with some good features, but the nine-inch screen is definitely not one of them

Lenovo’s IdeaTab A2109 is yet another tablet aiming itself at around the $299 price point. The idea, of course, is that those who can’t afford top-notch tablets, but want to steer clear of the kind of rubbish that tends to clog up the very lowest end of the market, will gravitate around this price point creating plenty of market for different manufacturers. There’s a logic to the view, but people are also looking for quality products and as we’ve said before, the Nexus 7 is the target everyone has to shoot at in this price range.

Lenovo IdeaTab A2109

Lenovo IdeaTab A2109

Lenovo isn’t perhaps the first name you would associate with a mid-range Android tablet, but the company has in fact been around the Android scene for a while, and it brings some interesting features to its $299 IdeaTab A2109.

“Lenovo brings some interesting features to its IdeaTab A2109”

Lenovo is quite clear about this being a tablet aimed at entertainment. To that end, stereo speakers sit on the back of the device, and SRS TruMedia support is built in. Music quality is certainly better than many devices we’ve tested recently, and the volume racks up rather nicely too. There is some distortion at the top volume end, but it’s not a disaster by any means.

There’s also very welcome micro SD card support, with the slot sitting under a small, thin, narrow back plate which surrounds the speakers and camera lens. The back plate is a little tricky to get off, and some will not like the need to remove it in order to hot-swap memory, but aesthetically the look is better than having an open micro SD slot on the edge of the chassis. And having memory expansion means you can boost the relatively generous 16GB of internal storage.

You don’t always find a camera on these middle-of-the-road tablets. Here, though, there are two. A front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera is bolstered by a back-facing three-megapixel offering. This is hardly cutting-edge stuff, but it is good enough for 720p video recording and will support video chat too. Performance, as you might expect, is middling, although it’s unlikely to be a major consideration in your buying decision.

Lenovo is quite clear about this being a tablet aimed at entertainment

Lenovo is quite clear about this being a tablet aimed at entertainment

We also like the micro HDMI connector that sits next to the micro USB slot, and the toggle button which locks screen rotation that sits next to the volume rocker and headset slot. You’d be surprised how often locking out auto-screen rotation comes in handy, and it’s far better to have a hardware solution for this than the software toggle that is standard with Android.

And we also appreciate the metal back plate which is tough and solid and a step up from some of the plastic build materials we’ve seen before. However, the IdeaTab is not light, coming in at 507g. We weren’t too happy about holding it one-handed for extended periods. In terms of look the metal is attractive, as are the rounded edges with their silver trim. On the short edges there’s a neat outward rake towards the back that is barely noticeable, yet adds a certain style.

The Nvidia Tegra 3 1.2GHz quad-core processor with 1GB of RAM is punchy enough to see this tablet cope with demanding tasks, and Android 4.1 is present which means the IdeaTab A2109 just about passes the ‘up to date’ test. Lenovo adds a fairly large number of apps to the Android standards, including the Kindle app, Documents To Go, a file explorer, Evernote, Norton’s Security app, a Lenovo print app, Skype, Sugar Sync and Zinio. All this is mostly very positive stuff, though we tend to prefer fewer pre-installed apps, especially when they are in fact free and widely available through the Google Play store anyway.

But the IdeaTab A2109 has an Achilles heel, and is let down by a pretty poor display. The nine-inch screen offers 1,280 x 800 pixels – a lowly pixel density of 167ppi – and it lacks vibrancy and punch to compete with similar devices in this price range. Website text can be pinched, but it’s not especially easy on the eye, and in general, the screen lacks the sparkle of bright colors and vivid reproduction that is a key characteristic of a truly great tablet. While not an absolute deal breaker at the price point it does serve to reduce the tablet’s effectiveness for functions that rely heavily on text. You won’t want to use this for lengthy bouts of eBook reading, for instance.

The backplate is solid, scratch resistant metal, which feels quite robust but makes for rather heavy hardware

The backplate is solid, scratch resistant metal, which feels quite robust but makes for rather heavy hardware

Overall the IdeaTab A2109 has some good features, and the processor is a real plus point. As always, a low price point does mean compromises, and here it is with the screen. Swift performance, HDMI support and expandable memory might be enough to make up for it though.

Lenovo IdeaTab A2109 information

Price: $299


Performance: 4/5

The processor really packs a punch, and is able to handle all tasks smoothly

Design: 3/5

Nothing radical in the design but there are a few extra hardware functions we like

Features: 4/5

Android 4.1 and a range of pre-installed apps, plus HDMI and SD support impress

Value for money: 4/5

The price is quite appealing for a device of this specification

Verdict: 3/5

The screen is the only thing that brings this tablet down. Otherwise, it is an attractive, well-priced all-rounder

Battery life

Battery life is on the high side for a big tablet, getting you through a few days easily

Good for…

Multimedia out: The micro HDMI slot could be a really useful feature

Gaming: A good processor means gaming fun is a real prospect

Music: Stereo speakers are on board and are surprisingly good

Media richness: The large nine-inch screen makes the Lenovo a decent movie player

Technical specs

§  Operating system: Android 4.1

§  Processor: Quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 1.2GHz

§  Memory: 16GB storage

§  Dimensions: 259.8 x 178 x 11.65mm

§  Weight: 570g

§  Display size: 9-inch

§  Display resolution: 1,280 x 800 pixels

§  Expansion slot: micro SD


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