Lenovo IdeaTab S2109 review: Lenovo IdeaTab S2109

Tested spec Lenovo IdeaTab S2109A Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 Asus Transformer Pad TF300 Apple iPad (2012)
Maximum brightness (Super IPS) 411 cd/m2 380 cd/m2 331 cd/m2 455 cd/m2
Default brightness 185 cd/m2 213 cd/m2 135 cd/m2 160 cd/m2
Maximum black level (Super IPS) 0.32 cd/m2 0.39 cd/m2 0.22 cd/m2 0.49 cd/m2
Default black level 0.14 cd/m2 0.22 cd/m2 0.09 cd/m2 0.17 cd/m2
Default contrast ratio 1,284 974:1 1,504:1 941:1
Maximum contrast ratio (Super IPS) 1,321 968:1 1,500:1 928:1

When swiping through pages and navigating menus, the screen matches the sensitivity of most Android tablets out there but can't quite compete with the ubersensitivity of the Transformer Pad TF300, and on some occasions it was frustratingly difficult to swipe open the lock screen on the S2109A. Apps launched without delay, in that they began their launching process as I tapped the appropriate icon, but some larger apps, like games, clearly took longer to load compared with even other dual-core based tablets, like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1.

Web and app download speeds were, on average, slower than when using most other Android tablets when within 5 feet of our test router. App downloads especially took up to four times longer to download than on the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1.

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The 1.3-megapixel front camera won't exactly inspire much cinematic experimentation. James Martin/CNET

Thanks to its hardware scalability, I once again used Riptide GP as a game performance benchmark. Depending on the speed of the tablet's CPU, Riptide GP will deliver a noticeable increase or decrease in frame rate. The S2109A delivered playable frame rates, about on par with other 1GHz, dual-core-based tablets, but obviously didn't approach Tegra 3 levels of quad-core-infused performance.

Successfully playing movie files was fraught with frustrating inconsistency. MP4 and MOV files usually played without requiring much coaxing, but even that wasn't guaranteed. MKV files, though (once I could actually convince them to play; usually by restarting the tablet) played with stuttery performance. This was using the Dice Player, one of the most compatible players I know of, and again, isn't something I've seen lately with the deluge of Tegra 3 tablets I've crossed paths with.

If you do convince movies to play, the inclusion of four separate speakers does pay off, however, and the tablet's sound is loud, powerful, and fairly clear.

As mentioned, the S2109A has a front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera, and the 720p video recorded with it looks like 720p video recorded on a typical tablet: Webcam-looking stuff, with a distinct lack of clarity and washed-out colors. That is, if I could get the camera app to actually start.

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One of the 4 speakers on the S2109A. With 4 speakers, you'd expect the sound to deliver and it does. James Martin/CNET

The tablet never once crashed on me. While that statement may indicate I'm setting the bar too low, I mention it only because I did experience several app crashes or just nonstarting apps (like the camera app). This seemed to occur right after doing some high-bandwidth tasks on the tablet, like playing a couple of games and watching a movie. A restart "fixes" this, but that's not exactly my idea of a fix for a consistent problem.

Battery life appeared to drain a bit faster than what we typically see on tablets and required a recharge after about 8 hours of periodic use. 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 S2109 9.4

Conclusion
The S2109A is a decent device and $350 is an appealing price, but the tablet is less than the sum of its parts. When you start paying close attention to what else is out there, this becomes readily apparent. If you're strictly looking for a 10-inch tablet in this price range, I recommend the $400 iPad 2. If you prefer Android, however, the $380 Transformer TF300 is worth the extra $30 (or more) you'd be paying over the S2109A. It has most of the S2109A's ports and is much faster and more stable, with really good cameras, and useful Asus software features.

If you absolutely have to save that last $30 or so, then money is probably too tight and a tablet may not be the wisest of investments. If you have the disposable income, however, the TF300 is the better Android buy, with the iPad 2 being the overall recommendation in the $300-to-$400 10-inch tablet subcategory.

What you'll pay

Pricing is currently unavailable.

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