A budget tablet is a budget tablet, right? I mean, if affordable is what you’re going for then for the most part, shouldn’t all entry-level Android tablets be pretty much the same thing?
If you had asked me this very question prior to the existence of the Nexus 7, I would have said “Yup.” While I wouldn’t call the Nexus 7 a budget tablet (after all, it IS nearly $100+ more expensive than this one), it does show that small and affordable can also be paired with top of the line hardware and software. That makes it tough for other manufacturers to churn out true budget tabs, since you can always think to yourself “For a little bit more money, I can get something WAY better.”
The Lenovo IdeaTab A1000 is a “budget” tablet in every sense. I hate to speak ill of anything I am given the chance to review, but if you are at all any sort of Android power user, then this tablet is not for you. The A1000 is a tablet for people who don’t really understand the concept of tablets and aren’t very tech conscious. It’s fine for dipping your toes into the tab ecosystem, but not much more beyond that. It’s a good little device for the most basic of tasks such as checking your email, watching some Netflix, and maybe doing some light web browsing and checking your Facebook. Beyond that, it’s not really beefy enough to handle too many multimedia applications and games.
But the A1000 is not all bad. Say you’re someone like my wife who appreciates the convenience of having a small tablet to carry around, but could care less about processor speed and memory. She doesn’t play games, doesn’t use it as a Kindle or have any movies saved to the device. Literally, all her tablet is, is a portable Facecook device (which is why she got my old, outdated tab and I kept the Nexus 7). There are plenty of people like that, and these folks most likely aren’t too keen on paying $300+ for a good tablet. To be honest, they shouldn’t. It would be a waste of a good tablet. For the price at which it is offered, it’s hard to get better value than something like the A1000.
The Lenovo IdeaTab A1000 sports these specs:
– 7 inch display (1024 x 600 pixels)
– 1.2 GHz Apple A4 processor
– 1 GB LPDDR2 RAM
– 512 MB internal storage (1.5 GB after a recent firmware update)
– 0.3M front cam
– 802.11bgn wireless
– Bluetooth 3.0
– Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
– Approx. 8 hours of battery life
For $129, there’s not much more to expect, and to be honest, if you are someone like my wife, you shouldn’t need any more. Spec-wise, the A1000 has enough to get you through your daily browsing needs. Sure you’re probably not going to be playing Real Boxing on it anytime soon, but for all your other casual games (Angry Birds, Candy Crush, Words With Friends, etc) you should be just fine. Download the Kindle app, Netflix, Facebook, and spend an extra $35 on a Chromecast for your TV, and you’ve got yourself a well rounded device that should serve your every casual-use need.
The A1000 is a light, comfortable to hold device, and it is attractively designed as well. The model I was given has a glossy white backing with the Lenovo logo plopped right in the center, a standard black bezel in the front surrounding the screen, and a silver “ring” around the circumference of the entire device. Other than the requisite ports for the charging, a 3.5mm jack, and the volume/power buttons, the entire device has a nice, clean look to it and a solid feel. For something so affordable I was definitely expecting a tablet that felt more “cheap.”
Despite the decent build quality, however, there’s something I really disliked about the A1000…the screen. When viewing the screen head-on, everything looks ok. There’s a strange “shimmer” to the look of the display, but nothing so bad that it was a bother to use. However, as soon as you move the tablet and view the screen from any sort of angle, the display starts to black out. It’s almost like the A1000 is forcing you to view it at a perfect, head-on angle. It reminds me of using a Nintendo 3ds; with the 3ds, the 3d effect is only useable when you view the device at the perfect “sweet spot” angle. Any other angle results in the image becoming warped. With the A1000, it’s a similar concept, but instead of a warped image, you just lose parts of the image altogether. It’s almost like a built in glare.
As far as resolution goes, the A1000 certainly is not going to blow anyone’s socks off. This is none more evident than the first thing you see…the wallpaper. Pop any of the stock wallpapers up and you’ll see a muddled image that, upon closer inspection, is quite pixelated. Going into the web browser and other text heavy apps isn’t as hard on the eyes, but if you inspect the text closely, then yes, it does appear to get quite muddled. Again, this is really the sort of thing that would bother a technophile, and your normal day to day Joe casual user probably won’t even notice.
It’s hard to criticize the IdeaTab A1000 too much. As the old adage goes, “You get what you pay for.” This is none more true than in the case of this device. Price-wise, it’s hard to beat, especially if all you want is a simple to use, entry level, casual use tablet. You get something that should fit your needs, and hey; at least the A1000 runs Jelly Bean!
However, it’s hard to to justify this purchase if you are any more tech savvy, especially knowing that a Nexus 7 is just a tad bit more pricey for a LOT better performance. As far as small tablets go, it’s hard to top the Nexus 7. It all comes down to what you’re looking for in a tablet. If you just need something to read a few books, browse the web, and check your Facebook, then why pay any more? You’ve got a perfect little device right here.