We’ve reviewed quite a few of Lenovo’s many tablet offerings in the past and have come away impressed. Today I’m looking at the Lenovo Tab 2 A8, touted as their most affordable tablet to feature their Dolby Atmos audio system. Does this budget tablet provide a budget experience? Keep reading to find out.
- Processor: MediaTek® MT8161 Processor (64-bit, quad core, 1.3GHz)
- Graphics: Mali-T760 MP2
- Storage: 16GB eMMC
- Memory: 1GB
- Operating System: Android 5.0 (Lollipop)
- Display: 8” (1280×800) IPS
- Rear Camera: 5MP auto-focus
- Front Camera: 2MP
- Audio: 2 front-facing speakers w/ Dolby Atmos® Cinematic Sound
- WLAN: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
- Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.0
- Sensors: Proximity / Light / Accelerometer / GPS
- Ports/Slots: Micro-USB, Micro-SD Card Reader, Headphone/Mic Combo
- Battery: 4000 mAh (Li-polymer)
In The Box
- Lenovo Tab 2 A8 tablet
- Power adapter plug
- Micro USB cable
The Lenovo Tab 2 A8 is an 8” tablet, and in many ways is fairly non-descript. That’s not a bad thing by any means, but it does make talking about the design of the tablet somewhat difficult. The front of the device has the 8” (1200×800) IPS display along with the front-facing camera and dual front-facing speakers. The right side of the tablet includes the power button and volume rocker while the top has the mic/headphone plug as well as the micro-USB power input. The left side houses the microSD card slot while the bottom has only a small hole for a microphone. The back of the tablet is coated in a blue plastic shell with the rear camera in the upper-left hand corner.
The screen of the Tab 2 A8 seems to almost sit on top of the blue plastic backing, as there is a clear separation and a black ring around the entirety of the screen that causes the screen to sit just above the rest of the housing. The entire device is still exceptionally thin and light, measuring just under ½” thick and weighing under ¾ of a pound. The tablet itself feels very solid, and nothing like a budget device whatsoever.
The 8” IPS display on the Lenovo Tab 2 A8 is very crisp and clear. Even with the screen brightness set at a respectable 75% colors and text are all rendered as they should be. Videos and games look great too.
The Tab2 A8 is running Android 5.0, and a relatively clean version of Android to boot. Lenovo has received a lot of feedback on their tablets, and the clear consensus was that something closer to the stock Android experience was what they wanted. This tablet does still have a few of Lenovo’s Android UI tweaks but it is honestly pretty close to the stock Lollipop experience out of the box. Of the 16GB of internal storage, the Android system takes up a bit over 4GB. There are only a few non-removable system apps included, most of which are Lenovo’s apps such as SYNCit, SHAREit, etc. that are included on all of their devices. With expandable storage via microSD, internal storage shouldn’t cause you any problems at all.
Speakers recently have been trending towards the dual front-facing stereo speakers, and this is a trend that I can firmly get behind. The dual front-facing speakers definitely provide a much better listening experience, especially with tablets where there’s a higher chance that the device will be propped up against something for media consumption. That’s not to say that you won’t have a better experience while holding the Tab 2 A8 in your hand because you absolutely will. The dual speakers provide a loud, clear sound that is in all ways superior to speakers on the bottom or back of a device. With that being said, you’re obviously going to get something less than perfect out of the speakers on most any mobile device. These speakers are perfect for watching some quick videos, listening to a few songs, or even playing games. But for more serious listening you’ll almost always want to use a good set of headphones or higher quality external speakers. The same can be said about nearly any tablet or phone though.
The inclusion of the Dolby Atmos Cinematic Sound system really creates a fantastic experience when you’re using headphones. It provides a very clearly simulated 360 degree sound system. You’ll feel as though you’ve got speakers completely surrounding your head, making for a very interesting listening experience.
So we’ve gotten through a few sections and so far nothing has really screamed “budget” about this device. Will performance be where the Tab 2 A8 slips up? No, not really. This tablet handled everything that I threw at it including social media, loads of YouTube videos, games including Final Fantasy Tactics and Fallout Shelter, it was even a great controller for a night of gaming with the Jackbox Party Pack. The MediaTek processor should be able to handle most anything that Android has to offer, the one potential weak link would be the 1GB of RAM. In my testing though it wasn’t an issue. Multi-tasking isn’t a strong suit on this device, but when used in a way that isn’t too taxing on the memory you should still have a positive experience.
If you’ve read any of my tablet reviews you’ll know that I’m not a proponent of tablet photography. You’ve almost certainly got a better camera on the phone in your pocket, and taking photos or videos using a tablet really just looks silly. The Lenovo Tab 2 A8 is very nearly small enough to be able to get away with it, but with a 5MP shooter for the rear camera you’re still probably better off using your phone in most instances. The photos that I took were clear enough, though in anything other than perfect lighting you’ll definitely start to see muddied results. The rear camera will work in a pinch, but I’d still stick to using your phone’s camera in most instances.
The front-facing camera works well for video chats or as a quick “mirror.” With only 2MP on the front camera that’s probably all it’s really suited for.
The Lenovo Tab 2 A8 has a 4000mAh battery which Lenovo states will get you 8 hours of usage, which I found to be pretty accurate. Lots of games will drain the battery faster (Fallout Shelter in particular is a huge battery hog) but with even moderate use you should be able to get plenty of battery life out of the A8. Recharging will take a few hours, and while QuickCharge or wireless charging would have been a nice addition, either would have brought the price of the device up, and neither is really completely necessary.
The Tab 2 A8 is running Android 5.0, so you’ve got all sorts of options for apps, games, content, etc. From the Google Play Store, to Amazon’s App Store you’re covered with nearly anything you want to do.
The tablet itself really doesn’t come with any sort of accessories outside of the basic necessities, but that’s part of what helps keep the price incredibly affordable. As far as device-specific accessories you’re really only looking at a tablet folio case that will help protect your screen and is available in several different colors.
One hundred and twenty dollars. Bam. You can even find the Lenovo Tab 2 A8 for under a C-note on Amazon. For the price you’ll pay you’re honestly getting a heck of a bargain. The 8” form factor is really a nearly perfect size for a tablet and this particular tablet is both comfortable to hold and offers performance that far outpaces its sticker price.
The Lenovo Tab 2 A8 is a “budget” tablet in price, but not in performance. There are some things that might have been nice additions such as more RAM, or Quick Charging, but those absolutely would have bumped up the price. As is, the Lenovo Tab 2 A8 is a capable tablet with a price that you really can’t beat.