Lenovo's IdeaTab A2107A is the smaller 7in version of the Lenovo IdeaTab A2109A tablet. It costs just £150, with 3G connectivity as standard, plus 16GB of expandable storage.
On paper, the Lenovo IdeaTab A2107A Android tablet appears to be a strong rival to the more expensive Google Nexus 7, Kindle Fire HD and Barnes & Noble Nook HD 7in tablets. Of course, the difference here is that the IdeaTab is not sold as a loss leader that will bring in other types of revenue. In return for your £150 outlay, you can expect £150-worth of tablet. See also: TOP 5 GOOGLE ANDROID TABLETS. See also: What's the best tablet PC?
Lenovo IdeaTab A2107A: Build
As with its bigger brother, also a cheap tablet, Lenovo has fitted a roll cage inside the 7in Lenovo IdeaTab A2107A for increased durability. This has had an effect on the dimensions, and the A2107A is a rather chunky 11.5mm thick. However, the tablet feels very sturdy: it doesn't creak; it doesn't flex; and you'd probably have to give it a pretty hefty whack to cause some damage. But it also feels very heavy - so much so, it can become rather uncomfortable to hold up this 400g brick for extended periods.
Nevertheless, the smaller dimensions of the Lenovo IdeaTab A2107A over the A2109A make it easier to hold in a single hand. It's designed to be operated in portrait mode, which is better suited to reading e-books and long web pages, with the home screen accessible in this orientation only; landscape mode is available for playing media and games.
The Lenovo IdeaTab A2107A chassis design is simply a smaller version of that seen in the larger IdeaTab, with a stylish glass front and a matt black rear. There's a power button, headphone jack and micro-USB charging slot on top, while the volume rocker sits on the device's right side. A small section at the top of the rear slides up to reveal two SIM ports and a microSD slot.
This functionality was rumoured to be present in its bigger brother, although we were unable to prise off the panel on that tablet, which meant it just looked like an odd, out-of-place design quirk. We like Lenovo's approach of allowing you to remove only part of the rear panel - although the battery remains inaccessible, the chassis won't creak when squeezed and the design negates the need for flimsy SIM and microSD slot covers.
The 7in screen has a 1024x600-pixel resolution, with a 169ppi pixel pitch. This is low in comparison to its rivals: the Kindle Fire HD, Nook HD and Nexus 7 each has at least a 1280x800-pixel screen. The difference isn't as notable as you might assume, since MediaTek display technology built into the CPU is intended to enable rich, full-bodied colours and sharp detail, but it can't rectify the shocking viewing angles.
Lenovo IdeaTab A2107A: Performance
With built-in 3G connectivity and strong build quality at just £150, there had to be a catch somewhere, and you don't have to look far: the Lenovo IdeaTab A2107A falls down horribly in performance.
We were convinced that our review sample must have been faulty, and weren't reassured by the message that popped up during testing that said the battery was too hot and the tablet should be powered down. Then we consulted the specs.
The Lenovo IdeaTab uses the MediaTek 6575 platform designed for budget smartphones in emerging overseas markets. This combines a 1GHz single-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor with MediaTek's own display technology and dual-SIM capability (the A2107A simultaenously supports both 2G/3G and 2G SIMs). Faced with dual- and even quad-core competition, a 1GB complement of RAM isn't enough to address the Lenovo's shortcomings. If only it had stuck to the Tegra 3 chip inside the A2109A.
We recorded just 368 points in Geekbench 2. To put this into context, the Nexus 7 scored 1,452 points, and even the less powerful Kindle Fire HD managed 1,124. Sub-400-point scores aren't acceptable for even super-budget smartphones these days - the £10-per-month Huawei Ascend G330 scored 652, for example. You'll notice the lag even in something as simple as swiping between home screens.
Its graphics score in GLBenchmark 2.5 was even more embarrassing: we saw just 3.9fps in Egypt HD. In SunSpider, meanwhile, the Lenovo IdeaTab managed a yawn-inducing 3,037ms. The Nexus 7 completed this test in almost half the time, at 1,665ms.
Lenovo IdeaTab A2107A: Cameras
Something else Lenovo supplies that isn't offered by Google's Nexus 7 is a rear-facing camera - although it needn't have bothered, since we can think of few scenarios in which this 2Mp-rated model without a flash would be usable, let alone useful.
Since the camera cover forms part of the removable rear panel, you may need to ensure dust and grime isn't able to find its way underneath. Of course, you shouldn't need to constantly pop it on and off and, on the plus side, this component should be replaceable if it becomes scratched.
The Camera app features a settings dial, within which you can use a slider to control the zoom, and apply filters and alter the white balance or scene mode (merely Auto or Night) at the composition stage. You can instantly tell whether you are in stills, video or panorama mode not only by the small icon at the bottom right of the screen, but also by the colour of the large circular shutter button - blue, red or green respectively. Unlike in some camera apps, you can't just tap anywhere on screen to trigger the shutter.
A 0.3Mp webcam is found on the front for video chat. It's grainy and pretty awful in low light, but aren't they all.
Lenovo IdeaTab A2107A: Software
The IdeaTab runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, which isn't the latest version of Google's mobile OS, but pretty standard these days. A few of Lenovo's own tweaks are present, from the carousel-effect home screens to the grouping of similar apps into category folders, such as Media, Social, Games, Tools and Business.
Loads of apps are preloaded by Lenovo, including the Amazon Kindle app, NewsRepublic, Evernote, Norton Security, ooVoo, Cut the Rope and Docs2Go. There's also a GameTanium games store, a BackupAndRestore utility for making copies of your contacts, messages, call logs and apps on the SD card, and Lenovo's PrinterShare. It's clearly tried to set up the tablet as ready to go out of the box, but in several instances there is more than one app for taking care of the same task.
Lenovo IdeaTab A2107A: Battery life
Battery life from the one-cell lithium-polymer pack is rated at 8 hours with 3G, or up to 10 with Wi-Fi. However, the battery overheating message that popped up during our testing suggests you won't get anything close to this amount of continuous usage.