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Lenovo IdeaTab S2109 review: Lenovo IdeaTab S2109

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The Good The Lenovo IdeaTab S2109 has an appealing $350 price, its speakers are powerful, and it sports a comfortable design with an uncluttered Android 4.0 interface.

The Bad The tablet misses the value mark with frequent app crashes, a low-resolution screen, stutter-filled movie performance, and only an average-quality camera.

The Bottom Line The Lenovo IdeaTab S2109A has an appealing price, but it can't compete with similarly priced tablets in overall value.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

6.0 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 7
  • Performance 5

Review Sections

As technology advances, so do expectations and what was good, even three months ago, can be an overpriced waste of money today.

Despite the Lenovo IdeaTab S2109A's performance issues (detailed below), price is the major deterrent. It's not terribly expensive and even includes some useful connections for its price. At the end of the day, however, you want to buy the best product, and unfortunately, the S2109A just can't hold a candle to other, similarly priced tablets that more clearly push the envelope in performance and features.

Though it shares a few dimensional similarities with the iPad (and more specifically, the iPad 2), I doubt you'd have difficulty distinguishing the Lenovo IdeaTab S2109A from Apple's tablet. First, the similarities: each tablet houses a screen with a 4:3 aspect ratio, sporting a 1,024x768-pixel resolution. Dimensions and weight are also nearly identical, but the S2109A has a wider side bezel.

Lenovo IdeaTab S2109A Asus Transformer Pad TF300 Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 Apple iPad (2012)
Weight in pounds 1.3 1.4 1.24 1.34
Width in inches (landscape) 9.7 10.4 10.1 9.5
Height in inches 7.3 7.1 6.9 7.3
Depth in inches 0.35 0.38 0.34 0.34
Side bezel width in inches (landscape) 1 0.8 0.8 0.8
Sure, there's glare, but that's inevitable when you combine glossy IPS screens and sunlight. James Martin/CNET

Then, the differences begin to slowly seep in. The S2109A's corners are more rounded and the beveled edges on the back aren't as dramatic. These more bulbous corners keep the tablet from digging into my palms, making it more comfortable to hold with two hands. The back is made of a medium-gray plastic panel that curves around the tablet's edge to the front, creeping a bit into the bezel. Unfortunately, this creates a seam between the bezel and the back panel that feels like shoddy workmanship and serves as an unintentional reservoir for small particles like crumbs, if you're the type (unlike me, of course) who likes to eat while you do tablety things. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

In the center of the left-side bezel is a 1.3-megapixel camera, and on the tablet's left edge is the easily depressible power/sleep button, with the headphone jack directly above it. On the left top edge sits the volume rocker.

Ports and connections, however, are what some buyers look to when making their tablet-purchasing decisions, and the S2109A shows up as fairly strong in that department. Along the right edge, from left are a microSD slot, a Micro-HDMI port, and a Micro-USB port. On the back are four speakers, two each on the right and left sides.

From left: microSD port, Micro-HDMI, Micro-USB, reset pinhole, and charging port. James Martin/CNET

Overall build quality seems sturdy enough, but there's little chance you'd mistake this for a high-end device. It just lacks the kind of panache and sound design sensibilities you find on tablets like the Nexus 7 and Transformer TF300. It's difficult to articulate exactly what's "off," but if someone told you the S2109A costs less than $300 (it actually starts at $350 for 16GB), you'd probably reply with a "Yep. That sounds about right," rather than, "OMG! Amazeballs!!"

Software features
The S2109A ships with Android 4.0.4, but I didn't notice any changes from 4.0.3, and most of the apps included on the tablet can be pulled from the Google Play store for free. File Browser, which is a handy app that allows you to directly access files on the drive, is the only notable exclusive app addition.

The file browser app included with the S2109A is the only useful software addition. Screenshot by Eric Franklin/CNET

The tablet also includes an SRS sound setting, allowing you to switch the speakers from music and movie mode, but this pales in comparison to SRS settings (like an Ambient Noise Equalizer) Toshiba offers on its tablets.

Hardware features
The S2109A houses a 1GHz dual-core OMAP 4430 processor and 1GB of DDR2 RAM, and comes in 16GB and 32GB varieties. Tablet mainstays like 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi support, Bluetooth 3.0, and GPS are included as well as gyroscope, accelerometer, and digital-compass support.

The S2109A uses an IPS panel for its screen, sporting wide viewing angles and a high brightness. And as mentioned, the screen runs at a resolution of 1,024x768 pixels. While that matches the screen specs of the iPad 2, it's actually lower than what you get on the vast majority of Android tablets. The lack of pixel density of the S2109A's screen isn't really noticeable in most apps; however, home screen text and text on the Web are noticeably blunted.

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