With industry giants such as Google and Apple seemingly dominating the tablet market, along with a slew of promising entries from other well-known manufacturers, Lenovo has made comparatively little noise.
The Chinese company has held steady with its solid line of IdeaTab slates, but its newest release seems set on tackling the somewhat under-served budget performance niche.
The IdeaTab A2109 is certainly far from perfect, but it adequately delivers on its core goal of providing great performance and a bit of versatility at a sticker price that won’t induce shock.
The IdeaTab A2109, as with most other recent Lenovo slates, feels quite solid. The construction is of high quality, and the brushed aluminum body feels suitably durable. The overall shape is comfortable to hold, and the 9-inch form factor strikes a pleasing balance.
The device measures in at 9.3 by 6.5 inches, but the 0.46-inch thickness is a bit puzzling. Combined with a weight of 1.30 pounds (0.59 kg), it’s far from the sleekest tablet on the market. The extra thickness and heft throw off what would otherwise be a nearly ideal form factor, but the tablet is still reasonably comfortable to use.
The power button can be found along the top edge of the device. The right edge features micro-USB and micro-HDMI ports. The left edge sports a switch to lock orientation, a volume rocker and 3.5mm headphone jack. The bottom is featureless.
On the top front is a 1.3-megapixel camera for video chatting. Along the top of the aluminum back is a narrow strip of plastic. Speakers flank the ends of the strip, and a microSD slot can be found beneath it. It’s difficult to remove, however, which can make using this slot a hassle. Also featured is a 3-megapixel rear-facing camera capable of 1080p video.
However, both the front- and rear-facing cameras are mediocre at best. Photo quality is adequate, but video quality is poor even by tablet standards.
Not a Pretty Picture
Arguably the most disappointing aspect of Lenovo’s IdeaTab A2109 is the display. Rather than the more popular, higher-quality IPS panels found in most comparable devices, the IdeaTab A2109 uses a TN (twisted nematic) panel.
Viewing angles on TN display are limited, especially in the vertical direction. While brightness is at least acceptable, contrast and black levels are poor.
The A2109 with 1,280-by-800 pixel resolution pales in comparison to the superior Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9 and Barnes & Noble Nook HD+, both of which feature a razor-sharp 1,920-by-1,280 pixels.
Under the Hood
The IdeaTab A2109 runs a slightly modified brand of Android’s 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system. Home screen features have been tweaked a bit, and the IdeaTab comes with a large collection of applications.
It is powered with 1.2-gigahertz quad-core Tegra 3 processor with one gigabyte of ram. On-board storage comes in at 16 gigabytes, though the microSD slot makes it easy to upgrade as necessary. Overall, performance is a strong point for the A2109. During routine use the tablet performs well, though the tablet’s overdone interface can occasionally cause a bit of lag.
Thanks in part to the modest specifications and outdated display technology, the IdeaTab boasts extremely impressive battery life.
Because the IdeaTab A2109 clearly targets budget-minded consumers, comparisons to Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD 8.9 and Barnes & Noble’s Nook HD+ are natural. In terms of performance, a case could be made in support of the IdeaTab.
It won’t set the world on fire, but it performs very well during most tasks and only bogs down because of the device’s interface. Battery life is also a clear advantage for the A2109. However, both competitors far outclass the IdeaTab’s, low-resolution panel.
The substantially higher resolution of the Fire HD and the Nook HD+ produces a much crisper picture, and the IPS technology allows for much richer, more vivid color and contrast.
Feedback from consumers about Lenovo’s IdeaTab A2109 has been mixed. The poor display is the most common complaint, along with a distinct lack of accessories provided by Lenovo. The bulky design has also been noted, though it isn’t a significant issue.
Conversely, the IdeaTab A2109 gets high marks for its combination of solid performance and excellent battery life at a budget-friendly price.