I gave up on Android tablets a long time ago, so I was a bit skeptical to spend my time on a Lenovo Tab 2 A10 review. Before I get into it, let me give you a little background in my Android tablet usage. I started with the original Xoom from Motorola. From there I graduated to the Asus Transformer followed by the Note 10.1, Nexus 10, Nexus 7 ’12 and finally the Nexus 7 ’13.
Each of those tablets were decent, don’t get me wrong, but each had its own glaring issue that kept me less than satisfied. Finally, I decided to go back to the original tablet line I owned, the iPad and haven’t looked back. That doesn’t mean that I’ve forever given up on Android tablets, though.
The Lenovo Tab 2 A10 is my first experience with Android on a tablet since the Nexus 7 ’13. The tablet has all the makings for a decent budget tablet. On paper, it has great specs and a small price, but is that enough to make the tablet worth your dollar? Let’s dive in.
- 10.1-inch IPS FHD (1900×1200 resolution) display
- MediaTek Quad-core 1.7 GHz processor
- 2GB of RAM
- 16GB of Internal Storage (expandable up to 64GB via micro-SD slot)
- 7,000 mAh battery
- 8MP rear-facing camera, 5Mp front-facing camera
- WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, FM Radio, Bluetooth 4.0
- Dolby enhanced speakers (rear facing)
What’s in the Box
- Micro-USB charger
The tablet came in Midnight blue. The blue itself was subtle and I often mistook it for a grayish color. The tablet has the power, volume rocker, and micro-USB (2.o) charger slot on the left-hand side. On the back right is a cover for the micro-SD card slot.
The tablet is designed to be held in landscape but it could be used in portrait mode if you’d like. The micro-USB charger on the left side of the tablet seemed out of place and I felt the charging port should have been on the bottom — with that being the bottom in landscape mode — as a plugged in charger makes it a little awkward to use while it’s charging, but that’s personal preference. On the back of the tablet are the two Dolby-enhanced speakers separated by the 8MP rear camera in the middle. It’s plastic, but I found the plastic to grip well and I had no fear of dropping the A10.
Ease of Use
Like every other Android tablet, setting up the tablet is a pretty fluid process. Turn it on, go through the prompts, connect to WiFi, sign in with your Google account, and you’re good to go. Those familiar with the Android experience on the tablet will be happy to know that it’s the same on the Tab 2 A10. Lenovo throws in some handy apps (like the FM radio and Dolby sound app) that make the tablet a perfect mobile media companion. You’re still going to have some app issues with some apps not having dedicated tablet UIs — here’s looking at you Hangouts — but that’s more of an issue with Android itself and not Lenovo’s problem.
The tablet came with Android 4.4, a.k.a. KitKat, right out of the box, but in the time I used the tablet (over a period of about a month) I received an update to Android 5.0.1 aka Lollipop and a few bug updates since. While I was hesitant with the update because of how badly Lollipop 5.0.1 performs, I found the update to enhance my experience with the tablet. Speaking of Android 5.0.1, Lenovo kept its software tweaks to a minimum, allowing Android to shine. While I didn’t like only being able to house six apps in the hot seat and noticed a lot of wasted space I found the launcher to be out of the way enough to let me do what I needed to on the tablet.
There were preloaded apps on the device with the Dolby and FM radio apps being the most useful. While I’ve never minded preloaded apps (bloat in some circles), I feel that preloaded apps on a 16GB packing tablet to not be a good thing. That being said, it’s footprint was minimal.
Long gone is the day where you have to worry about performance taking a hit while your wallet doesn’t. The Mediatek quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM were quite capable of taking on everything I threw at it. While I did notice that load times for games and various apps took a bit longer than I’m used to, I didn’t find it to be overly annoying or something that ruined the experience of the tablet.
The only time I found performance to be sub par was when I was downloading apps from the Play Store in the background. The tablet seemed to stutter just a bit when doing so and while not debilitating, it did add a minor annoyance to the experience. But in terms of lag, that was it. Switching between apps showed no lag whatsoever and games that weren’t so system intensive performed like a dream.
One aspect that took me a bit to get used to was the screen. The 10.1 inch full HD (1920X1200 at 218 ppi resolution) screen has decent color reproduction but in my first few days I found the screen a bit hazy. However after updating the tablet from Android 4.4 – KitKat to Android 5.0.1, I found that haziness to go away. While it’s not the best screen you’ll buy, given what you pay for it, the full-HD tablet’s display performed well enough. Streamed video looked decent on the tablet.
Lenovo’s use of Dolby-branded sound is a plus, but that’s only offset by the fact that the two speakers are on the back of the tablet. That said, sound was dynamic and crisp and I was able to hear my streaming video well enough. The speakers had enough punch to make your music and videos sound decent without having to blare the speakers, too.
The Tab 2 A10’s two cameras performed decently as well. While I subscribe to the idea that you should never use a tablet to take picture highlights of your life, the 8MP rear shooter performed decent enough, though, there was some noise in low-light pictures. The 5MP front shooter was decent when it came to shooting selfies or video-chatting on Hangouts, too.
The tablet I reviewed came with 16GB of internal storage with a micro-SD card slot that expands that up to 64GB. There is an option to get 32GB of internal storage but you’ll end up paying a little bit more. While I think we’re past the point where 16GB of internal storage is acceptable, it’ll do OK enough for media consumption. Just don’t expect to pack multiple movies and games for a long road trip, though.
While overall I was pleased with the performance of the tablet, what sets it apart from its competition is its battery life.
One of the areas the A10 excelled was battery life. The 7,00o mah battery boasts up to 10 hours of usage over WiFi and in my experience, I was able to get about 11 hours of continual usage before the device was about to power down. For context my usage was a mix of Hangouts with the Techaeris/MOARGeek team, browsing the Internet, perusing work emails, streaming video (Hulu, YouTube and Netflix), browsing Google+ and playing Fallout Shelter. On the road, I was able to play games and stream movies without a need for a charger.
So while battery is what you’d expect when it comes to using the tablet, Lenovo has thrown in a pretty handy perk to extend the life of that charge. Like most people, I don’t use my tablet continuously. No, I use it here and there, a little at a time. The perk that Lenovo threw in? Like a do-not disturb time, Lenovo has thrown in the ability to schedule when the tablet turns on and off. So rather than keep the tablet on all night, draining a little bit of battery, the tablet will turn off at a certain time and turn on again at another predetermined time. For me, I had the turn off time set for 10 p.m. and had it turn back on again at 7 a.m.
Thanks to this handy feature, I was able to extend the tablet’s battery from 2-3 days of sporadic use and standby time, to over a week with the same usage. Considering one of the shortcomings on Android (at least before Marshmallow) tablets is crappy standby time, Lenovo did something pretty awesome here.
The retail price of the Tab 2 A10 tablet is set at $279.99. Depending on where you look, you can get it for cheaper than that. Lenovo has the tablet priced at $184.99 right now on its own web site. With a sub-$200 price, the tablet packs a decent amount of bang for your buck.
1If you’re in the market for a new tablet but don’t want your wallet to take a huge hit, the Tab 2 A10 is the tablet for you. For less than $200, you get a lot of perks with a few compromises with the Tab 2 A10. Packed into a 10.1-inch frame, you get a full HD IPS display at 1920×1200 resolution with roughly 218ppi. The screen isn’t the best out there, but that’s OK. You’re getting quad-core speed, great battery life and a pretty solidly built tablet for the price.
It’s not without its compromises, I know. However, despite its shortcomings — the rear facing speaker and lag when downloading apps — the Tab 2 A10 gives its competition a run for their money. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a tablet that packs in so much without taking a big chunk out of your wallet. With every other Android tablet I’ve used, I’ve found one or two glaring issues that would be a deal breaker for me, with the A10, I wasn’t able to. It’s an overall good buy if you’re looking for a tablet that doesn’t take too big of a chunk out of your wallet.