The best of Android 3.1 is still here, though. You get the official Android Market, along with Google's mobile apps for Maps, Gmail, Navigation, Books, and Google Talk. The celebrated Honeycomb Web browser is located literally front and center on the IdeaPad's home screen, housed within an editable dashboard of common actions (watching videos, reading e-mail, listening to music, and reading books). Lenovo calls this central dashboard the "Lenovo Launcher," and though we thought it was a useful addition, you have the freedom to delete it if you choose.
Unfortunately, there is one Lenovo customization you can't change. On the bottom of the screen, positioned at the center of the navigation bar is an odd speech bubble icon that launches an overlay of your favorite apps. Lenovo calls this feature the "App Wheel" and as the name implies, you navigate through these apps by spinning through the overlay like a Lazy Susan. An additional icon at the center of the wheel allows you to add or delete apps from this quick list. We like the concept, but it ultimately ends up creating more clutter and confusion. With the standard app drawer accessible from the upper-right corner, and recently used apps accessible from the bottom-left corner, Honeycomb has no need for a third app menu in a third corner.
The worst thing we can say about the Lenovo IdeaPad K1's performance is that the screen isn't as bright or vibrant as on the iPad 2 or as on our current top Honeycomb tablet pick, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. Its resolution is crisp and the screen's responsiveness is right in line with its competition, but the overall viewing experience isn't the best.
Everything else, from the browser load time to the keyboard typing performance, is all right in line with the other Honeycomb tablets we've tested. It's to be expected, considering they're more or less all running on the same processor and memory configuration. Still, it's worth mentioning.
Lenovo rates the IdeaPad's battery performance at 10 hours of mixed use. Here are our official CNET Labs-tested battery life results. More tablet testing results can be found here.
|Video battery life (in hours)||Maximum brightness (in cd/m2)||Default brightness (in cd/m2)||Maximum black level (in cd/m2)||Default black level (in cd/m2)||Default contrast ratio||Contrast ratio (max brightness)|
There's a lot to like about the Lenovo IdeaPad K1, but it's tough to get enthusiastic about a tablet that strays so little from products we've already seen. Still, if you have your heart set on a Android tablet and you're not hung up on it being the thinnest or lightest, the IdeaPad K1 is a solid option.
Update, October 10 at 12:44 p.m. PT: CNET Labs' battery life test results were updated.