Lenovo’s 9-inch IdeaTab S2109 and 7-inch IdeaTab S2107 won’t go down in tablet history as groundbreaking products, but the handsome new Android tablets do have a few nice features, including haptic feedback and a host of useful home screen widgets. We got a chance to go hands-on with the S2109 and A2107 at Lenovo’s IFA Berlin boot today and came away intrigued, though not blown away, by the budget slates.
The IdeaTab S2109 felt really light in our hands as it’s under 1.3 pounds and just 0.45 inches thick. Its 1280 x 800-pixel screen was bright and colorful, though not as rich and colorful as AMOLED screens we’ve seen on the Galaxy Tab series nor as sharp as the HD screen on the ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity. However, this $299 quad core tablet is a designed with an added dose of durability, as it has a real aluminum back and a roll cage inside to help protect against drops and spills.
We didn’t have a chance to test any high-end games or other apps that would tax its quad-core Tegra 3 CPU, but we were able to take a gander at the apps and UI. Unfortunately, the S2109 comes preloaded with Android 4 Ice Cream Sandwich, not Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. Fortunately, Lenovo hasn’t done anything to skin the interface apart from setting its own wallpaper background and putting some really useful widgets on the main desktop screen.
The square widgets on the desktop screen allow you to see the local weather, time in any world city, your calendar, a sticky note and a folder full of shortcuts to your favorite apps, all without leaving the desktop. Tapping each widget expands it to show more content such as the entire month of calendar dates or the full text of your sticky note. We particularly appreciated the apps widget, because it allows you to keep your desktop shortcuts in one neat square.
Our favorite feature of the IdeaTab S2109 is its haptic feedback. Where most Android phones provide a pleasant but optional tactile buzz as you type and hit navigation buttons, most Android tablets lack this functionality. With the IdeaTab 2109, it’s on by default, giving users a better simulation of a real keyboard as they type on a virtual one.
The 7-inch IdeaTab A2107 has the same UI, widgets and great haptic feedback as its 9-inch sibling, but along with the smaller screen comes a lower resolution of 1024 x 600. Fortunately, the device is almost as durable as its brother, sporting an internal roll cage but not an aluminum back cover.
The .9-pound, 0.45-inch-thick A2107 felt even lighter in our hand than the S2109 and we appreciated its comfy, grippable soft-touch back. We weren’t able to see just how well it performs with its 1-GHz dual-core Cortex A9 CPU, but most actions were fairly snappy. We particularly liked the 3D effect we got when swiping between desktops, as the screen looked like it was a cube that we were flipping over.
There’s no word on pricing for A2107, which comes with an FM radio standard and optional 3G, but we would hope that the base model would be price-competitive with the $199 Google Nexus 7, which lacks the rear camera and radio of the A2107 but has a faster processor and sharper screen.