BARCELONA: Lenovo may have a dominant presence in the Western laptop market, but it's yet to repeat this success in the tablet or smartphone spaces.
This is a little disappointing as Lenovo has released a steady stream of affordable and reasonably well specced tablets over the past couple of years. This legacy continued at MWC this year when Lenovo unveiled the Tab 2 A8, its latest 8in, and first Android Lollipop, tablet.
Design and build
Visually the black Tab 2 A8 demo unit was understated and featured a smooth polycarbonate chassis. Measuring 210x125x8.9mm and weighing 330g, the Tab 2 A8 is also fairly average when it comes to size and weight.
Were it not for the Lenovo branding on its back and front we could easily have confused the Tab 2 A8 for any of the unassuming Android tablets we've seen from other PC makers, such as Asus, Dell and HP.
While the design isn't terribly exciting, we found during our hands-on that it had a pleasantly functional feel and is reasonably well built.
Following an accidental drop onto the hard plastic demo table at the Lenovo MWC stand the demo Tab 2 A8 survived blemish and scratch free.
Featuring an 8in 1280x800, 189ppi IPS display, the Tab 2 A8's screen specifications aren't anything to write home about.
However, powering up the Lenovo Tab 2 A8 we were reasonably impressed with its performance.
Text and icons were noticeably less crisp than on other small form factor tablets, like Google's Nexus 7, but were sharp enough to read and colour balance levels were rich and realistic.
Contrast and brightness levels were also reasonably good. The only problem we noticed is that the screen was at times fairly reflective and had narrower viewing angles than we'd expect. Some colours, particularly white, began to distort when viewing the screen from an angle.
The Tab 2 A8's most interesting feature is its use of Android 5.0 Lollipop. Lollipop launched alongside Google's Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 devices at the end of 2014 and, as we noted in our full review, is a milestone update for the OS.
Key new features include a reworked and more user friendly Material design that removes unneeded animations and clutter, and an advanced notifications system that lets users access and manage incoming alerts from the lock screen.
Other key upgrades include an improved camera API and sophisticated multiple account and managed profile support features that can be activated via Google's newly launched Android for Work.
Even better, unlike many Lollipop devices we've seen at MWC, it looks like Lenovo has resisted the urge to make too many unneeded changes to the OS.
The only notable changes we noticed were a few reworked application icons and a couple of bloatware apps which appeared to be removable.
Hopefully the Tab 2 A8's software will remain similarly untouched come the tablet's full release.
Lenovo has taken advantage of Lollipop's 64-bit processor support, loading the Tab 2 A8 with a 1.3GHz, quad-core, 64-bit, MediaTek MT8732 processor and 1GB RAM. We didn't get a chance to fully benchmark the Tab 2 A8 during our hands-on.
Tasking the tablet with basic web browsing, document editing and a few games of Fruit Ninja, which oddly was preinstalled on our demo unit, we found it performed smoothly and we didn't experience any noticeable lag or chugging.
We here at V3 have never been fans of taking photos on tablets. Their increased size and weight make the process of taking a photo slightly awkward, and we've yet to find a tablet with a decent camera sensor capable of taking anything better than OK photos.
If our opening tests are anything to go by this remains true for the Tab 2 A8, which features bare bones 5MP rear 2MP front cameras. Images, while usable, looked slightly dull and at times were blurry.
Battery and storage
We didn't get a chance to battery burn the Tab 2 A8's 4200mAh unit so we can't usefully comment on its life.
The Tab 2 A8 comes with a basic 16GB of storage built in. A further 32GB can be added using the microSD card slot.
Price, release date and conclusion
The Lenovo Tab A8 is set to launch in selected regions in June with prices starting at $129. The device won't revolutionise the tablet market from what we've seen so far, but it could be a solid choice for any buyer looking for an affordable, small form factor Android tablet.
Featuring a lightly skinned version of Lollipop, a 64-bit processor and a solid design, the Lenovo Tab 2 A8 does have promise.
Check back with V3 later this year for an in-depth review of the Lenovo Tab 2 A8.
By V3's Alastair Stevenson
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