Lenovo unveils a trio of Jelly Bean Android tablets (hands-on)

The S6000, A3000, and A1000 are the latest Android tablets from the Chinese manufacturer of ThinkPad laptops.

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Business-friendly ThinkPad Windows laptops are still Lenovo's best-known product, but that's not stopping the company from hedging its bets with Android. The China-based manufacturer has unveiled a trio of new tablets at the Mobile World Congress show: the 10-inch S6000, and a pair of 7-inchers, the A3000 and A1000. All three run the version 4.1 (Jelly Bean) of Google's tablet operating system. Look for them in the second quarter of the year; pricing info and local availability hasn't yet been specified.

The 10-inch S6000 features a standard "blacktablets.com" looks and feel. It's not particularly thin or interesting to look at. It features a plastic body with a plastic textured backside. The screen resolution is 1,280x800 pixels and the tablet uses an IPS panel so viewing angles at least weren't a problem. With an extremely aggressive $250 price, Lenovo appears set to move a few units. It's not everyday you see a 10-inch tablet with an IPS screen at that price.

These days, I can't help but be disappointed when a 7-incher features anything less than a 1,280x800 screen resolution. Call me spoiled, but recent entries in the 7-inch market have simply raised my expectations and this doesn't leave much room for the A1000's 1,024x600 7-inch screen to impress. Text was noticeably blurry, there was visible warping whenever I tapped the screen, and the TN panel provided only narrowest of viewing angles.

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The other 7-incher, the A3000 is a definite step up over the A1000, with a higher quality IPS screen. Unfortunately, it's locked at the same low 1,024x600 resolution. The screen is definitely bright and features the same textured backside as the S6000 and many recent Lenovo Android tablets.

All in all, the specs for these tablets don't look particularly groundbreaking, but without final pricing, it's tough to make a value judgment yet. However, Lenovo is touting cellular (HSPA+) data options on the S6000 and A3000 that eliminate (at least initially) the need to commit to a wireless provider. Dubbed "Lenovo Mobile Access," the tablets will allow broadband connectivity out of the box for a limited time. Thereafter, consumers will be asked to sign on to a participating wireless provider.

Up close with the 10.1-inch Lenovo S6000 (pictures)

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Here's what we know about each tablet based on Lenovo's initial press materials:

Lenovo S6000

  • 10.1-inch IPS (in-plane switching) display with 1,280x800-pixel resolution
  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
  • 1.2 GHz quad-core MediaTek 8389/8125 processor
  • Battery life "that allows for more than 8 hours of continuous Wi-Fi Web browsing," according to Lenovo
  • 8.6mm (0.3385 inch) thick, weighs 560g (1.2346 pounds)
  • Optional HSPA+ cellular data
  • Micro-HDMI port

Lenovo A3000

  • 7-inch IPS display with 1,024x600-pixel resolution
  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
  • 1.2 GHz quad-core MediaTek processor
  • 11mm (0.4331 inch) thick, weighs 340g (0.7496 pound)
  • microSD expansion (up to 64GB total system storage)
  • Optional HSPA+ cellular data

Diving into Lenovo's 7-inch, A-series tablets (pictures)

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Lenovo A1000

  • 7-inch display
  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
  • 1.2 GHz dual-core processor
  • 16GB storage, expandable to 32GB total with microSD slot
  • Front-facing speakers with Dolby Digital Plus sound
  • Available in black or white

The Lenovo tablets will enter a highly competitive landscape already dominated by the likes of Apple, Google, and Amazon. Samsung and HP have also announced new Android tablets at Mobile World Congress.

No prices have been announced yet, but unless Lenovo is planning on releasing these at heavily discounted prices, there's going to be very little here to get at all excited about. Google and Asus have already proven that you don't have to sacrifice quality to release a cheap tablet. Lenovo it seems has yet to get the memo.