Here in 2012, it’s tough not being an Apple iPad. In attempting to chip away at the Apple Uber-slate’s lopsided share of the tablet market, Android slate makers are experimenting with lower-priced, entry-level models, with varying degrees of success. Two of the best tries are Asus’ $399.99 Transformer Pad TF300 and Acer’s $449 Iconia Tab A510. Both are built around 2012’s fast, power-efficient Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor and come with 32GB of onboard storage—making them top-notch values in their own right.
On the flip side, though, we’ve also seen several less-impressive so-called “budget” models, such as Samsung’s $399.99 Galaxy Tab 2 (10.1) and Acer’s $349 Iconia Tab A200, both built around dual-core processors and sporting only 16GB of storage. What makes these slates less attractive than the TF300 and A510 are their ho-hum CPUs and allotments of storage.
Alas, this group is where Lenovo’s recently launched IdeaTab S2109, the subject of this review, belongs. It’s a $449, 9.7-inch slate that also packs a dual-core processor and only 16GB of storage. Still, you can’t say it doesn’t have big aims: More so than the four full-size 10.1-inch slates mentioned here, the 9.7-inch IdeaTab S2109 takes direct aim at the iPad. It looks quite similar to Apple’s iconic slate, with the same-size screen. Certain specs are similar to Apple’s $399 entry-level iPad 2—notably, the 1,024×768-pixel screen resolution and the display’s 4-to-3 aspect ratio. Unlike the iPad 2, though, the IdeaTab S2109 has only one camera. And a key place where the IdeaTab S2109 didn’t come close to the iPad was in battery life. On our Battery-Rundown Test, we saw less than half the runtime of the iPad 2.
Overall, though, this slate performed respectably on the rest of our performance tests. It’s also light, thin, and attractive, and it comes with an above-average set of connectivity options, notably both HDMI and USB ports. We also liked, as we discuss in the Design section of this review, this IdeaTab’s four-speaker SRS surround-sound system, which put out exceptional audio.
Although this is a capable Android slate, you can pick up much more powerful models with twice the built-in storage at the same price or less. So, with that in mind, we’d like to see this IdeaTab ratchet down in price before we recommend it.
On that note, Lenovo offers a cheaper version of the S2109, with 8GB of storage, for a list price of $399. In addition, as we wrote this (mid-July 2012), the company was offering both the 8GB and 16GB versions of this tablet at discounted prices on its Web site, shop.lenovo.com. We don’t know how long these prices will last, but at the time we wrote this, the site offered the 8GB model for $389, and the 16GB version—after an “eCoupon” discount—for an even lower $349. (Odd, that.) Overall, though, even these prices are too high, especially for the 8GB slate.
Read full review at Computer Shopper.