Lenovo IdeaTab A1000 review: A budget tablet that cuts too many corners

The equalizer's ability to make audio sound sharp, clear, full, and balanced is great, but limited headphones-only functionality isn't. The Asus MeMO Pad HD 7 has a similar audio enhancing feature, but conversely is only usable through the tablet's speakers. The A1000 has a leg up though, with it's customizable option that allows audiophiles to manually adjust the equalizer to their nit-picky perfection.

View full gallery (8 Photos)
HD videos didn't pop on the tablet's dull screen. James Martin/CNET

Hardware
The Lenovo IdeaTab A1000 houses a 1.2GHz dual core MT8317 CPU, a single-core PowerVR SGX531 GPU, 1GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage. The tablet also features Bluetooth 4.0 and an accelerometer.

Performance
These days a 1,200x800-pixel resolution is average for a budget 7-inch tablet, but the Lenovo IdeaTab A1000 bucks the trend and embraces an even lower 1,024x600-pixel resolution screen that is plagued by bad viewing angles and washed out color.

Tested spec Lenovo IdeaTab A1000 Asus MeMO Pad HD 7 Google Nexus 7 (2013) Amazon Kindle Fire HD
Maximum brightness 369 cd/m2 353 cd/m2 570 cd/m2 394 cd/m2
Maximum black level 0.49 cd/m2 0.57 cd/m2 0.44 cd/m2 0.41 cd/m2
Maximum contrast ratio 753:1 619:1 1,295:1 960:1

Images are noticeably dull in sharpness and HD videos fall flat, lacking any visually stimulating qualities. Color is void of any vivid pop or vibrant saturation and there is a pervasive blue hue on the display that is most noticeable when comparing the screen to other tablets.

View full gallery (8 Photos)
This is what streaming Netflix on the A1000 looks like. Xiomara Blanco

Despite being able to download and open the app, the A1000 cannot stream Netflix video. However, I had no trouble loading videos elsewhere, including YouTube, Crackle, and Google Play.

The screen's responsiveness was consistent and mostly accurate, although my taps went unrecognized a few times. The tablet sometimes responded slowly when I pressed the power or volume buttons -- as if being startled from a daydream -- and the volume rocker's functionality does not switch according to orientation.

Simple activities were executed fine, although lagging and buggy flickering when launching apps was rather consistent. The tablet frequently had trouble syncing my Google account notifications and I would often get notified about e-mails I had already read on a different device.

View full gallery (8 Photos)
The IdeaTab A1000 allocates 1.5GB for apps. Xiomara Blanco

The Lenovo IdeaTab A1000's 16GB of internal storage is partitioned in a particularly odd way; only 1.5GB are designated for app downloads, with the rest allocate to "USB storage" for saving more content such as music, movies, and photos. During my time with the tablet I never filled the app storage -- it's called "internal storage" in the settings menu -- but it is a weird decision that could definitely put a damper on the activities of any app-addict.

Although the A1000's equalizer includes a gaming setting, the way the tablet performs while playing games would lead you to believe that Lenovo completely forgot about that function. Gaming performance for simple mobile games, like Candy Crush Saga or The Simpsons: Tapped Out, worked fine, but downloading, loading, and running more graphic-heavy games was nearly impossible.

View full gallery (8 Photos)
To be fair, it did warn me about the possibility of crashing before it actually did. Xiomara Blanco

While running 3DMark, the tablet continually crashed and couldn't finish the task. Eventually, it succumbed to the pressure of performing like a capable 2013 tablet and completely shut down, never to be powered on by me again.

I was able to play Riptide GP -- after receiving another testing unit -- and it ran smoothly, although the accelerometer wasn't very accurate and successfully navigating the courses depended heavily on exaggerated movements.

The tablet's 0.3-megapixel front-facing camera produces dark and grainy photos. There is a significant lack of color and detail that's extremely noticeable, especially in low lighting. Even in slightly dim environments, shadows were overemphasized and increased the darkness of the photo. Adjusting the white balance slightly helped with color accuracy, but it replaced the automatic settings' greenish tint with a degree of severe red hues.

View full gallery (8 Photos)
There is no ambient light-sensor for an automatic brightness function. James Martin/CNET

The front-facing speakers aren't particularly impressive for a device geared toward audiophiles and provide typical audio performance from a tablet. Although other small budget tablets don't go as loud, they do hold up a bit better at full volume, with less tinny moments during songs.

The tablet's battery lasted around 8 hours during casual but performed abysmally low during video testing. Here are our official CNET Labs-tested battery life results. More tablet testing results can be found here.

Video Battery life (in hours)
Lenovo IdeaTab A1000 4.6

Conclusion
The Lenovo IdeaTab A1000 scores points with its audio enhancing equalizer, but falls short in just about every other category. With comparable budget tablets in abundance that provide better video, gaming, and browsing capabilities, enduring the A1000's baseball-sized pixels and internal storage limitations just to save a few bucks is unnecessary.

The Asus MeMO Pad HD 7 is a comparable 7-inch tablet with similar audio-enhancing features and less performance hang-ups, but -- if not limited to a budget or committed to a device that prioritizes audio quality -- the Google Nexus 7 is the best small tablet to get.

Editors' Top PicksSee All

  • Apple iPad Air 2

    Starting at: $409.99
    4.5 stars

    Even thinner, even lighter, even faster, the iPad Air 2 is definitely better, but it's...

  • Google Nexus 9

    Starting at: $405.00
    4 stars

    Google has partnered with HTC to serve up its greatest pure Android tablet yet.

  • Dell Venue 8 7000

    Starting at: $399.00
    4 stars

    Rocking a stylishly slim design and depth-sensing cameras, the photo-friendly Dell Venue...

  • Nvidia Shield Tablet

    Starting at: $299.00
    4 stars

    A powerful new Nvidia processor and lots of features make Nvidia's tablet an impressive...

 

Discuss Lenovo A1000

Conversation powered by Livefyre