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Lenovo IdeaTab S2110A review: A good performer with bad build quality

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The Good The Lenovo IdeaTab S2110A features fast gaming performance, a bright screen, wide viewing angles, dual cameras, and Micro-HDMI.

The Bad The design is shoddy and screen warping is rampant when handling the device. Its price is too high given the quality and quantity of its offerings.

The Bottom Line The Lenovo IdeaTab S2110A offers a great-looking screen and fast gaming performance, but comes up short in build quality and features.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

6.5 Overall
  • Design 5
  • Features 6
  • Performance 7

Review Sections

For about $370, the Lenovo IdeaTab S2110A offers an impressively bright screen with wide viewing angles, fast gaming performance, dual cameras, Micro-HDMI, and a useful keyboard/dock option (about $480 for the tablet and keyboard/dock combo).

Unfortunately, thanks to its hollow, shoddily designed body, screen warping is rampant and the far edges of the tablet are uncomfortable to hold. The Asus Transformer Pad TF300 is cheaper, and offers more features and support for Android Jelly Bean. The S2110A isn't bad, it's just an overpriced tablet that struggles to offer as much value as the competition.

A lot can change in a year; in the last year, what we expect from tablets in terms of build quality, price, and performance has changed a lot. The Lenovo IdeaTab S2110A feels like a tablet built in 2011. Specifically, from a design and build-quality perspective, it reminds me a lot of the original Asus Transformer TF101. While the Asus proved a capable device for its time, standards have changed since then, and things I tolerated before are a lot more difficult to let slide now.

First, touching the S2110A's right and bottom bezel with enough pressure yields visible screen warping. And by "with enough pressure" I mean even very lightly. The same goes for the back of the tablet. Again, applying light pressure delivers obvious screen warping in the adjacent area on the tablet's screen. Now, screen warping occurs to some extent on every tablet, but here it's severe, distracting, and, I would imagine, disconcerting if you've just spent a few hundred bucks on the S2110A.

Press or even lightly touch the right-side bezel and you get this here. Josh Miller/CNET

The tablet is also extremely malleable and bends quite easily with very little effort. There's an edge at the outer end of the bezel that feels kind of sharp and scrape-y. Not enough to break skin or anything, but enough to be uncomfortable, annoying, and undesirable.

Still, there was some care put into the tablet's design. The textured back affords the tablet a bit of extra comfort when held, but comes nowhere near the soft, grippy textures of the backs of the Acer Iconia Tab A700 and Nexus 7. The S2110A is a rank comfort amateur in comparison. Weightwise, the tablet feels light in my hands without being too airy; but as I mentioned, the edges make it not so comfortable to hold.

This screen-warping effect brought to you by my finger, hidden but directly adjacent to it. Josh Miller/CNET

From the front, the S2110 looks like a typical black-bezeled tablet, with a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera and a Lenovo logo on the bottom bezel. On the right edge is a volume rocker, directly below a speaker grille. On the top edge toward the left sits a power/sleep button. On the left edge are an additional speaker grille, headphone jack, Micro-HDMI port, and SIM card slot (there are no carriers attached to the S2110A in the United States). On the back, in the top-right corner, is an LED-flash-supported 5-megapixel camera. A Micro-USB port on the bottom edge doubles as both a charging port and a data transfer input.

The keyboard
There are two versions of the S2110A: one comes with a keyboard accessory (about $480) and the other doesn't (about $370). The keyboard itself is similar in design to the optional docks Asus offers for its Transformer line of tablets. The Lenovo keyboard features the same textured bottom as the S2110A and has a full laptop-style button layout with plenty of shortcuts for functions like search, enabling Wi-Fi, and settings. Keys are about the same size as on Asus' dock, but are raised higher, resulting in a more satisfying typing experience. There's also a full two-button touch pad at the bottom of the panel.

Thanks to its cushier buttons, the S2110A's keyboard is more comfortable to type on than some. Josh Miller/CNET

The tablet easily slides into the base of the keyboard and, with the push of a large eject button, can be almost as easily be removed. Like Asus' Transformer keyboards, Lenovo's houses its own battery, optimized to deplete before the battery in the tablet begins draining. As long as they're connected, of course.

Software features
Lenovo adds a unique aesthetic spin to the stock Android 4.0.4 OS: when you swipe through pages, apps and shortcuts animate as if they were on an invisible cube and every swipe rotates the cube to the right or left. Not functionally different, but an appreciated aesthetic bonus.

The S2110A can be purchased with its optional keyboard (hence the optional part) or by itself. Josh Miller/CNET

Hardware features
The Lenovo S2110A runs on a dual-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor and has 1GB of DDR2 RAM, as well as 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi support, Bluetooth 4.0, a gyroscope, an accelerometer, and GPS.

The tablet houses an in-plane switching (IPS) screen with a display resolution of 1,280x800 pixels. The screen sports wide viewing angles, and a nice high brightness. Compared with Tegra 3-based tablets such as the Sony Xperia Tablet S, the animation when swiping through screens is anything but smooth. However, navigating through menus is fast and most apps open fairly quickly. The S2110A was the slowest tablet of those I compared it with when loading the first level in the game N.O.V.A. 3, however.

N.O.V.A. 3 on the S2110A runs smoothly. Just watch out for those blurry textures. Josh Miller/CNET

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