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Lenovo IdeaTab A2109 review: A swift tablet with a bummer screen

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MSRP: $329.99
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The Good The Lenovo IdeaTab A2109 sports a snappy quad-core CPU, features expandable storage and an HDMI output, and is reasonably priced at $300.

The Bad The IdeaTab A2109's display is unimpressive, it has a bulky build, and it has disappointing video recording quality.

The Bottom Line Despite having a decent price tag and zippy processor, the Lenovo IdeaTab A2109's screen is just too drab to consider.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

6.3 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 7
  • Performance 6

Review Sections

First unveiled during IFA 2012 in Berlin, Germany, the IdeaTab A2109 is one of tworecently released Android 4.0 tablets from Lenovo.

Currently, it's available at Best Buy for about $300, but despite its inexpensive retail value and zippy quad-core processor, the device isn't up to par compared with other tablets within the same price bracket.

For starters, its screen quality is ho-hum, its rear-facing camera is mediocre at best, and while the build itself is sturdy, it has a bulky build. These setbacks don't make up for the A2109's speedy experience, and they're what keep this tablet from being a real winner.

Held in landscape mode, the Lenovo IdeaTab A2109 is 6.45 inches tall, 9.33 inches wide, and 0.46 inch thick. Weighing about 1.26 pounds, it's comfortable to hold with two hands and it can fit easily in a small shoulder bag or backpack.

Tested spec Lenovo IdeaTab A2109 Lenovo IdeaTab S2109 Sony Xperia Tablet S
Weight in pounds 1.3 1.3 1.22
Width in inches (landscape) 9.3 9.7 9.5
Height in inches 6.5 7.3 6.9
Depth in inches 0.46 0.35 0.5/0.43
Side bezel width in inches (landscape) 0.87 1 0.75

The device has rounded corners, tapered edges, and a silver-grayish plastic build. Though I am a fan of the smooth brushed-chrome finish (which gives it a more luxurious feel), the whole design is reminiscent of the first-generation iPad. And after spending time with it, I discovered that the A2109 is bulky, which doesn't make it great for butterfingers. The backplate’s slick surface, in combination with the device's thick profile, prove to be slippery and unwieldy. I almost dropped it a few times while fussing with it.

To the left are a volume rocker, an orientation lock toggle switch, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Up top is a sleep/power button and on the right are a Micro-HDMI port and a Micro-USB port.

The back houses two speakers and a 3-megapixel camera, which can shoot in 1080p video. To gain access to the microSD card slot, use the small indentation at the top of the tablet to pry off the darker-colored strip of plastic that covers the speakers and camera lens. Though I was able to eventually figure out where the microSD was, its hidden location isn't intuitive and it can leave many users confused.

The IdeaTab A2109 has a 9-inch LED 4-point touch screen with a 1,280x800-pixel resolution and a 16:10 aspect ratio. Above it is a 1.3-megapixel camera.

The device's build quality is fairly sturdy, and I didn't see any loose seams or uneven component edges. If you press against the back hard enough, you will notice screen warping; especially near the center of the display. However, all in all, the A2109’s construction is on a par with its price tag. It definitely doesn't look like a high-end tablet, but it's solid enough to survive daily use.

Software features
Out of the box, the IdeaTab A2109 natively runs Android 4.0.4, so expect the usual slew of Google apps including Chrome, Gmail, Latitude, Local, Plus, Messenger, Maps with Navigation, Play Books, Movies, Music, and Store, Talk, and YouTube.

There are also a few uncommon apps like Lenovo's app portal; the mobile office suite, Docs To Go; Evernote; the gaming portal, GameTanium; a movie editor; the magazine app Zinio; an optional second keyboard user interface from Go Keyboard; and the popular game, Cut the Rope.

In addition, Lenovo overlaid its own skin on top of the vanilla Ice Cream Sandwich user interface. While I do enjoy the cube-like home-screen motion, I personally find some of its widgets to be extremely unattractive. They had a boxy design, and the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi widget shortcuts looked especially dated and drab.

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