Tablets like thehave shown that cheap devices can still offer a great experience from impressive components. Evidently, Lenovo wasn't paying attention, as the IdeaTab A2107 doesn't provide much to smile about.
It's a 7-inch slate with a single core 1GHz processor, running the older Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. It has dual SIM-card slots to help with data roaming abroad, but one of those is 2G, which is daft.
If for whatever reason you absolutely crave a dual-SIM tablet then it's available now for £150.
Should I buy the Lenovo IdeaTab A2107?
A thousand times no. Its cheap price tag might be appealing, but sacrifices have been made everywhere, resulting in a tablet that's horrific in almost every way.
Its 7-inch screen has such a low resolution that text and icons look fuzzy, vibrancy and colours are poor and viewing angles are a joke. It's powered by a weedy processor that gave some of the worst test scores I've seen in a long time. Swiping around the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich interface is sluggish, clunky and depressing.
For only £10 more you can snag the Google Nexus 7, which offers a far superior high-definition screen, a super-charged quad-core processor and the latest Android Jelly Bean software. The A2107 might offer expandable storage, but that's nowhere near enough to make up for its failings everywhere else.
Design and build quality
Outwardly, the A2107 is totally unremarkable. The back is simply an expanse of black, rubberised plastic, broken up only by the Lenovo logo in the middle and the camera lens at the top. A small section of the top of the back plate can be removed, giving access to the SIM card slots and the microSD card slot.
There's otherwise very little to say about the design. It's totally boring, but it's at least inoffensive. If you want sleek metal curves and stylish edging then you'll want to splash a little more cash on the.
It's 192mm long, 122mm wide and 11.5mm thick, making it roughly the same size as the Nexus 7. It's easy enough to slide into a jacket pocket, although at 400g, it's probably pushing the limit of what you'd really be comfortable with hanging in your coat.
Build quality is acceptable, although there was enough flex in the back casing to cause some distortion on the screen -- but only if you push pretty hard. The only problem area is the removable piece at the top which is pretty fiddly to slot back in and could easily be lost.
On the top you'll find the micro-USB port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. It comes with 16GB of storage as standard, but you can expand that with a micro SD card -- an option not available on the Nexus 7.
It also allows you to pop in two separate SIM cards. You might find that handy if you frequently travel abroad and want to keep in a local data SIM so you don't rack up huge roaming bills. It's a nice idea in theory, but one of the slots is 2G only, making it pretty useless as a data-specific device. You'd be far better off just using a Wi-Fi dongle and connecting any device you use to the Internet through that.
The 7-inch screen has a 1,024x600-pixel resolution which is less than you'll find on the Nexus 7. It's not a massive amount less, but the generally awful quality of the screen means the difference is surprisingly noticeable.
Icon edges and small text are poorly defined and the terrible colours means that the usually crisp white text under apps on the home screen is dull and quite difficult to read. It's worlds apart from the pin-sharp display offered by the Nexus 7 and 10-inch Nexus 10 tablets.
It's not particularly bright either, making the usually stunning Art of Flight look uncharacteristically drab and lifeless. Both horizontal and vertical viewing angles are horrendous too, meaning you'll need to be fairly face-on with the screen to get a decent view.
If you only ever use it for Web browsing, the A2107 might just about satisfy you, but if you hope to watch videos, look at your mate's snaps on Facebook or play any of the colourful, high-definition games from the Google Play store it's not going to keep you happy.
Power and performance
The tablet is running on a single-core Cortex A9 processor running at 1GHz. That's a considerable drop from the quad-core Tegra 3 chip you'll find powering the Nexus 7. Unsurprisingly then, the A2107 didn't perform at all well in any of my tests.
It only managed to score 324 on the Geekbench benchmark test, which is frankly laughable against the Nexus 7's 1,536. Similarly, on the CF-Bench test, it only achieved 2,908, far below the 11,716 managed by the Nexus 7 and the 13,080 scored by the Samsung Galaxy S3.
I wasn't shocked then to find that general use of the slate was a miserably slow affair. Even swiping through the homescreens was laggy and juddery and opening menus was slow and depressing. At every button press it took an extra moment to think exactly what was being asked of it. I quickly grew annoyed at the sluggish interface and had to make myself an extra-sweet cup of tea to get over the ordeal.
Games like Temple Run 2 were just about playable, although at times the frame rate dropped noticeably. It couldn't handle HD video streaming on YouTube either, resulting in jerky video even when it had fully loaded.
Technically the A2107 will load up the basics such as the Web browser and Google Play store, but doing so is plagued by so many delays and sluggish screen transitions that it's just not worth putting yourself through it.
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
It's running on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, which isn't the newest version of Android -- that honour belongs to-- but it's just about recent enough to be acceptable on low-end devices like this.
Lenovo has done a little bit of skinning too. You'll find little hubs and folders on the two central home screens that let you put in your games, social apps or business tools for quick access. There's also widgets for your calendar, notes and weather updates.
They're fairly unobtrusive, but don't offer anything at all over the stock Android experience. You can natively pop apps into folders in Android and there are a host of better looking widgets for weather and calendars available on the Play store.
On the back of the tablet you'll spy a 2-megapixel camera, which produced unimpressive results. Even in the well-lit CNET UK office, the test image suffered from noticeable image noise.
Colours too were washed out, the highlights in the windows were blown out, with fringing around the frame and the image lacked any kind of sharpness and detail.
If you only ever want to use a tablet's camera for taking a shot of your cat in a perfectly lit room for Twitter, then it might just about do the job. For anything else, I wouldn't recommend you even go so far as opening the camera app.
While the IdeaTab A2107 is certainly cheap, it's far from cheerful. Its appalling screen, along with its abysmal performance, makes it unpleasant to use for even the most basic of tasks. For only £10 more you can buy the excellent Google Nexus 7, which offers a vastly better experience in every single way.