In a tablet arena being dominated by iPads and Galaxy Tabs, Lenovo enters the fray with their Android-based IdeaPad K1 tablet to take a slice of that market. So how does it fare with the competition? Does it have that unique factor that would allow it to stand out among other Android tablets? Or is it just another 10-inch Android tablet? Let’s find out.
The first thing I noticed when I got my hand on the K1 is its weight. At 1.65 the K1 is heavier than most tablets and is definitely strenuous when holding it for an extended period of time. The K1 is about as wide as the iPad but taller by a few centimeters when put side-to-side in portrait. It is also noticeably thicker than most tablets available today with more than half an inch in depth.
The body is constructed mostly of brushed aluminum aside from the glossy plastic adorning the majority of its back. The entirety of the front panel is covered in glass housing the 10.1 inch 1280 x 800 resolution display with the 2 MP front-facing camera located at the top bezel and the home button on the right assuming that you’re holding the K1 in landscape mode. You can also use this home button as a track pad albeit with only a set of gestures. A subtle white glow at the sides of the button tells you that your gestures are being recognized although most of the time nothing happens when it does.
On the left side, you will find the power/lock button which is too close to the volume rocker below it that I always end up locking the d evice when I try to increase the volume. Below the volume rocker is the screen-orientation lock toggle and the microSD slot which you can access by poking the pinhole beside it to pop the cover.
At the bottom of the K1 you will find the micro-HDMI, the 3.55 mm audio jack and the 30-pin docking connector for charging.
Going at the back of the device, you will find the 5MP camera and the LED flash grouped into a little elliptical panel on the upper left side. Micro holes for the speaker are positioned in the tapered bottom edge of the K1 to avoid muffling the audio when placed on a flat surface.
The build quality of the K1 is top notch, everything feels sturdy and it doesn’t give you that cheap, fragile feeling when using it. Aside from being too hefty, everything works for the K1 design-wise.
The Lenovo IdeaPad K1’s uses Android 3.1 Honeycomb, with only a few minor but intuitive tweaks to cater to the average tablet user.
First, Lenovo provided a set of widgets unique to the K1 like the huge application launcher in the middle. They are aptly named according to which application/set of applications will be accessed when you click on one although you can definitely arrange and edit them to your heart’s content, like link them to other applications you have installed. You can also access the tablet settings from this launcher by pressing the small shortcut buttons on either side of the widget. Aside from this, there is also the Social touch widget which acts as an aggregator for your email messages and social network feeds such as Facebook and Twitter.
If you’re not familiar with Honeycomb, there is a persistent task bar at the bottom (similar to MS’s task bar) and is where most of the navigation controls reside. At the left most of the notification bar are the back, home and the open apps or task manager icon (card-deck icon). Pressing this will open a popup menu where you can easily kill apps you forgot to close.
Not a Honeycomb feature, but not also unique to the K1 is the “favorites” icon at the center of the task bar. Pressing it will open a carousel of apps in the lower right where you can add shortcuts to your select favorite applications by dragging them in or out of the carousel area.
At the far right of the bar is the clock and your usual indicators for the WiFi signal and battery level. Tapping on them will open a tray of various controls for the screen brightness, audio level, WiFi and Bluetooth etc.
Under the hood, the K1 churns using a 1.0GHz NVidia Tegra T20 processor with 1 GB of RAM to ideally give the best user experience a tablet can provide. But sadly, we found a few unfortunate performance issues.
There are plenty of noticeable lag in the device’s interface particularly when unlocking the tablet. I find it slightly annoying to wait half a second for the screen to respond after waking the device. Aside from this, transition animations stutter when navigating the tablet. I’ve also experienced numerous random reboots from the K1 when it was idle and had a “˜fatal boot loader error’ twice while playing different games.These made me feel like I am using a prototype device with prototype software which I hope I am.
Here’s the Quadrant score (1510) for the Lenovo IdeaPad K1 which is at par with other 10.1 inch tablets today having the Tegra 2 chip.
Despite these not-so-minor quirks, once an app runs, it runs as intended and pretty smoothly if I may add. The K1 comes with a 32GB internal storage and you can further expand its capacity by inserting a microSD slot in the device up to 32 GB, something other tablets are missing.
Games, Media and Productivity
The IdeaPad K1 comes with a number of HD games pre-installed like Angry Birds HD, NFS Shift, Galaxy on Fire 2 HD, a few card games and the Kongregate Arcade. Being a Tegra 2 device, these games ran pretty smoothly without any noticeable lag, even the Flash-based ones from Kongregate (although touch response is not good on Flash).
Watching movies on the K1 is somehow enjoyable although I find the speakers to be really really underwhelming. My mobile phone could probably outperform the K1 in this area so you’re better off plugging a pair of speakers or use a headphone instead. The K1 can play various video formats effectively although I encountered out-of-sync audio a few times.
As for browsing, it was a hit or miss experience for me. The built-in browser support a lot of features such as text reflow, pinch-to-zoom double tap to zoom and the ability to load Flash which is a huge plus form me. However, most of the time the interface itself is unresponsive which is irritating since you don’t know if the page is loading or not. I’ve also experienced a lot of instances where there are delays on character display when typing on web page text fields.
Again, I’m not sure if this is relegated to this review unit of ours so better try the tablet out in Lenovo concept stores first if you plan on getting one.
You can definitely whip up quick documents or slide presentations in the K1 with the help of the pre-installed productivity apps such as Documents to Go. As a matter of fact, parts of this review was done in the IdeaPad. Yes, I’m already a master touch-typist.
The K1 sports a 5MP rear camera that takes so-so pictures which should be sufficient for online consumption. The pictures tend to have a lot of noise especially in dark environments. Here are some sample photos:
The LED flash doesn’t help that much to alleviate this common small sensor problem. Also, in front of multiple witness, I had the front facing camera crash on me every time I took a picture. The only remedy is to restart the device and luckily, despite crashing, the pictures were actually taken and saved in the device.
I’m pleased to announce that Skype video calling works on the Lenovo IdeaPad K1.
The Lenovo K1 uses a 2-cell 7400mAh battery which is above average for 10-inch tablets and Lenovo claims that this can go for up to 10 hours. However, on a video-loop test, we only got to around 8 and a half hours before it tells us to plug the charger. Still for average use, you can go up to a full day before charging it and standby time will last you for days.
Lenovo’s first Android tablet outing gives us mixed reactions. It doesn’t have the drab colors other tablets have but the extra heft is something you will definitely notice and at some point be annoyed at. It has a built-in microSD slot so you don’t have to worry about the lack of storage. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 requires a special adapter just to use a microSD. Lenovo also made it easy for first time Android tablet owners to access their apps.
However, and this is a big one, the IdeaPad K1 (or possibly this unit only) wasn’t the best experience I’ve had in a tablet. The major annoyances and its unresponsiveness killed its purpose of seamlessly delivering media and entertainment. With a fierce competitor in the form of Apple iPad and Samsung’s growing number of Galaxy Tabs, it’s hard to find a reason for choosing the K1… unless you know how aggressive Lenovo priced this one.
The Lenovo IdeaPad K1 has a suggested retail price of Php24,999 (possibly cheaper in some stores). That’s good considering you’re already getting a 32GB storage on your tablet. Other WiFi only 10-inch tablets out there can only give you 16GB for that price. There’s no word yet whether Lenovo would bring the 3G version here. They say it will depend on how the market accepts the IdeaPad K1 as a whole.
|Lenovo IdeaPad K1 Specs|
|10.1-inch display @ 1280Ã—800 pixel resolution|
|NVIDIA Tegra T20 1.0GHz Processor|
|1GB DDR2 RAM|
|32GB internal storage, microSD slot up to 32GB|
|5MP rear camera, 2MP front-facing camera|
|Integrated Bluetooth and 802.11b/g/n WiFi connectivity|
|mini HDMI connector and optional docking port|
|Up to 10 hours battery life|
|10.4″ x 7.4″ x .5″ and less than 1.7 pounds|