Amid the attempts of off-brand tablet manufacturers to try their chances at competing against the iPads and the Kindle Fires of the world, there occasionally comes a device that catches the eye for its combination of cost and performance. The Lenovo IdeaPad A1 certainly matches the first requirement of competitive cost, but is it capable of stacking up against the Kindle Fire and other high profile tablets with respect to performance? Here, we take a peek under the hood of the Lenovo A1 Android tablet, which we’ve dubbed the “budget brand-name tablet,” to determine if it’s a hit or a miss.
Build & Design
The Lenovo A1 offers nothing new by way of build and design that you haven’t already seen if you’ve been paying attention to the comings and goings on the tablet market. This is especially disappointing in light of the vision its designers displayed with respect to some of the tablet’s other features (more on that below). The A1 has a glossy black backing that practically screams “HANDLE WITH CARE!”. Fortunately, it’s lighter than the Amazon Kindle Fire by nearly a full ounce and its 7.68 x 4.92 x 0.47 (inches) dimensions (which make it a hair wider, longer, and thicker than the Fire) still make it easy enough to palm without fear of dropping. But accidents do happen, and the plastic backing doesn’t look like it would fare well for long without the help of a shock-absorbent exoskeleton.
The saving grace of the Lenovo’s exterior design comes by way of three things: front- and rear-facing camera lenses, a screen orientation lock switch, and a volume rocker – the latter two which can be found on the tablet’s upper right edge. The tablet’s power button is located on its top edge, right next to the perfectly positioned 3.5mm stereo headphone jack that makes listening with earbuds a less painful experience than other tablet designs – the Kindle Fire included – that insist on placing the jack on the bottom where it’s most likely to get in the way during portrait orientation viewing or listening. The Lenovo IdeaPad A1’s bottom edge is where you’ll find the tablet’s single speaker, in addition to a microSD card slot for expansion up to 32GB and a microUSB port for charging and connecting to other USB devices.