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Tablet Review: Lenovo IdeaPad K1

Lenovo IdeaPad K1 tablet comes with a rounded corners and textured back for grip.

Pros

Ergonomically stylish design MicroHDMI port Sleek custom UI Loads of Pre-loaded Apps

Cons

Mediocre Speakers and Audio performance Camera output Bit Heavy

Last month, Lenovo had entered into the tablet scene in India with the launch of its three new tablets &#151 IdeaPad A1, IdeaPad K1 and ThinkPad tablets. With the latter two running on the Android 3.1 Honeycomb operating system and IdeaPad A1 running Gingerbread, Lenovo seems quite ambitious to grab more eyeballs. Joining the league of the Android 3.x Honeycomb based tablets, the new Lenovo IdeaPad K1 is one of the premium tablets for the general masses.

Lenovo lent the IdeaPad K1 tablet that features 10.1 inch touchscreen display and runs the Android 3.1 Honeycomb operating system. Packed in a stylish design, the IdeaPad K1 tablet is aimed at smart consumers who wish for a premium multimedia consumption handheld device.

Design and Build

Lenovo IdeaPad K1 looks like any other tablet from the front but unlike others it features a home button with LED displays on each side of it. The rear has a textured material loaded back panel that provides a good grip.

Unlike the other Android tablets, IdeaPad K1 has bit more rounded corners which make it look curvaceous instead of regular corners rounded off like in the Motorola Xoom or Galaxy Tab 750. However, the back panel design is not that premium as it appears from the front.

The IdeaPad K1 has a 10.1 inch capacitive touchscreen LCD display that supports 1280×800 pixel resolution. That means it is capable of running 720p HD video smoothly and it indeed runs it effortlessly. The touchscreen is capable of supporting multi-touch at ten points at the same time.

The display is fingerprint prone and one needs to constantly keep wiping it off the dust particles and fingerprints on it. However, there is some issue with the ambient light sensor when Auto-Brightness mode is activated. The brightness reduction process clearly lags when going from low light to bright light areas.

The dual-core 1 GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 System-on-Chip mobile processor powers the tablet and is capable of even 1080p HD video. Lenovo has added a 1 GB DDR2 600 MHz RAM to support the dual-core processor in promising faster performance of the operating system. The first interaction with Android 3.1 Honeycomb running on the tablet is indeed pleasant. As you try to get used to it, the shortcomings of the operating system start showing up. Read about it in the next section.

Speaker outlets lie at the bottom on the rear side and the 5 megapixel camera with LED Flash lies on the top left side of the tablet. The secondary 2 megapixel camera has been placed oddly in the center of the top bezel which is visible when the tablet is held in the landscape mode. The home button makes sense only in the portrait mode.

The power button, the volume control buttons and the microSD card slot are located on the left side of the bezel. While on the right side of the bezel rests the SIM card slot. When held in the landscape mode with front facing camera on the top, the proprietary connector port at the bottom along with the microHDMI port and the Audio (3.5mm) port.

Overall, the IdeaPad K1 tablet does look hand friendly but misses out a bit to give the premium feeling when it comes to the rear. Besides, the tablet does appear bit heavy with 0.75 kgs weight and whoever picked it up had the same detail to share.

Software Performance

Google did admit that the Android 3.x Honeycomb operating system was sort of an unfinished, rushed up and half-cooked job. Unlike its great looks, the operating doesn’t deliver the performance with the dual-core 1 GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 mobile processor and 1 GB RAM. The Android 3.1 Honeycomb on the IdeaPad K1 indeed was customised lightly by Lenovo with its own set of App Store anchor, bunch of widgets and pre-loaded native applications.

Lenovo has added its own layer of customisations which certainly improves the look and feel of the user interface. Like on the main screen, there’s a grid widget of four different apps &#151 Email, Videos, Music and Reader with a shortcut to browser in the center. Of course, you can customise this widget the way you like. Indeed it is quite simple and effective users who wish to quickly access the respective app for specific purpose.

A shortcut anchored at the bottom status bar brings up the semi ovular interface on the right of the screen which basically shows a list of applications recently used. Lenovo Shop is shortcut to the company’s own store where in number of applications, compatible with the tablet, are listed. The native Menu icons have been redesigned a bit to differentiate from those of the other apps. The UI customisation done by Lenovo is not as heavy and expansive as one could possible see in the HTC Sense user interface or Samsung TouchWiz UI.

The Android 3.1 Honeycomb does perform nicely when it comes to the GPU bench marks but overall it performs much like the Acer Iconia tablet while ASUS Transformer TF101 easily takes the cake.

With the announcement of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, there’s a hope that the real potential of the hardware pack can be reaped.

Currently the source code of Android 4.0 ICS has been released but only for the smartphones. So as of now the hardware manufacturers will have to work to bring the Android 4.0 update to their tablets. Meanwhile, Lenovo should certainly has to work on the lag issues and roll out a better firmware update.

Multimedia, Camera and Apps

Despite a 5 megapixel camera coupled with decent hardware, the tablet falls short in impressing with the still photo quality. While using the LED Flash, the camera gives a pink-ish tint at the corners of the actual image. However, the video recording just works smoothly while capturing a 720p HD video without any issues.

The IdeaPad K1 tablet is also looked upon as multimedia device but the tablet falls short in impressing us despite of having a magnificent hardware. Supporting standard audio and video formats have been added. It offers two music players which may baffle certain users to go for perfect one. ArcSoft Media App allowed paying AVI files quite comfortably and also is capable of syncing the photos, music files and videos if one has an ArcSoft account.

The tablet possesses a slightly overclocked graphics chip so we did expect the out of standard definition and 720p HD video files to be smooth. But it failed to play the full HD files smoothly. Even the third party video players did face some issue while playing the full HD files while the 720p HD video files worked just fine. Default video player isn’t recommended to be used if optimum video along with audio output is expected.

Music output was bit of a disappointment with this tablet. The speakers were decent but not that loud enough compared to the HTC Flyer. Thankfully the third party player &#151 PowerAMP comes to rescue with great equalizer settings. The tablet also comes loaded with mSpot Music app which allows you to create an account and store your music in the clouds.

Number of default applications and games along with Norton Security Suite will certainly keep you engaged for long.

Battery life

One of the most crucial aspects that everyone looks into the Android-based tablet is the battery life. Lenovo has packed a two-cell 7400 mAh battery to power the tablet but somehow we feel that it has not been utilised optimally. With a very normal usage that involves an hour of browsing, watching 40 minutes TV show, playing a game for half an hour and then reading an ebook, the battery lasted just a bit over 8 hours. Only if the power consumption by the operating system is improved, the same tablet can run for at least an hour more than its current time.

Even in the dormant state with no apps running, the tablet’s display continued to consume about 70 percent of the battery which was fairly visible in battery usage statistics. Well, it has been established that Android based devices are big battery hogs but the Honeycomb does more damage than patching it.

Conclusion

Looking for a good Android tablet? Well, then Lenovo IdeaPad K1 is certainly one of the best contenders considering it is priced at the moment at Rs 31,990 approximately. Unfortunately, Lenovo doesn’t throw in the keyboard dock with this tablet. Amongst the 3G supporting Android tablets, Lenovo competes with the Galaxy Tab 750 model and Acer Iconia 501. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 does take away the cake with touch-responsiveness and the TouchWiz 4.0 UI panels.

Soon the quad-core tablets will surface in couple of months and consumers will hope for a price drop on the first generation of Android Honeycomb tablets. However, the Rupee to Dollar value fluctuations certainly keeps every tablet prices on the edge.

Lenovo IdeaPad K1 is an ideal choice for the users who wish to enjoy number of pre-loaded apps, or a little modified user interface and a tablet with grip at the back. For those who don’t mind getting their hands on an Android tablet till the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich arrives, then Lenovo IdeaPad K1 is a decent and marginally affordable choice.

Test unit sourced from Text100.

Verdict

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