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Lenovo Tab 2 A8 review: A bare-bones budget buy

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The Good The Lenovo Tab 2 A8 is an affordable tablet for surfing the Web, checking email and streaming video. The preloaded Dolby app significantly improves audio quality. It has a microSD card slot.

The Bad The design is thick and hefty. The 1,280x800-resolution display is low by today's standards. Large apps and games take a while to load, and performance within them is sometimes sluggish.

The Bottom Line The Lenovo Tab 2 A8's performance is typical for its size and price, but if you're strapped for cash, it's fine for casual use.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

6.0 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 6
  • Performance 6

Review Sections

If you can spend more than a few bones on a tablet, I highly recommend doing so. If you can't, the Lenovo Tab 2 A8 is a decent tablet that'll satisfy simple needs.

The inexpensive 8-incher is decidedly outdated, with a chunky design and specs that would impress if this was 2013. However, not everyone needs the latest and greatest device, rendering the Lenovo Tab 2 A8 an acceptable choice for those who are apathetic about aesthetics and tolerant of dated tech.

At its rock-bottom price, the Lenovo Tab 2 A8's offerings are simple -- yet common for a tablet in its price range -- and all of its shortcomings are the result of sacrifices made to meet its low cost. The tablet is available for $129 in the US, £90 in the UK and AU$229 in Australia.

Design

The Lenovo Tab 2 A8 looks like a budget tablet. For an 8-inch slate, it's girthy and heavy. In a time when flagship tablets are fighting to be the thinnest and lightest ever, the Lenovo's design is unimpressive. Aesthetics aside, it's still comfortable to use.

Specs compared

Tested spec Lenovo Tab 2 A8 Amazon Fire HD 7 Dell Venue 7 LG G Pad 7.0
Weight 0.79 pound (360g) 0.74 pound (337g) 0.64 pound (290mm) 0.65 pound (295g)
Width (landscape) 8.3 inches (210mm) 7.4 inches (186mm) 7.6 inches (193mm) 7.4 inches (186mm)
Height 4.9 inches (125mm) 5 inches (128mm) 4.6 inches (116mm) 4.5 inches (114mm)
Depth 0.35 inch (8.9mm) 0.4 inch (10mm) 0.35 inch (8.9mm) 0.4 inch (10mm)
Side bezel width (landscape) 0.7 inch (18mm) 0.6 inch (15mm) 0.8 inch (21mm) 0.7 inch (18mm)

The blue plastic back panel features a smooth, matte finish that feels soft against your fingertips. The edges are flat, with a ridge created by the front panel connecting with the back panel. The ridge isn't sharp and doesn't protrude too much, so resting your fingers on the sides is still pleasant.

The top edge is home to the Micro-USB port and headphone jack, with the microSD card slot on the top-left corner, and the volume rocker and power button on the right. In a strange design choice, the Lenovo tablet has the volume rocker placed above the power button. Traditionally, most models have these buttons the other way around, so I often pushed the volume rocker when I meant to press the power button and vice versa.

The power button sits below the volume rocker. Josh Miller/CNET

The front of the tablet is bordered by unfashionably thick bezels with a front-facing camera at the top and a speaker at the very end of each edge. The speakers are in the center so, depending on how you're holding the tablet, it's easy to block them. However, the tablet and its bezels are so thick, they both give you enough space to keep your fingers out of the way.

Features

Inexpensive tablets not only ignore conventional beauty standards, they also skimp on the software bells and whistles. The Lenovo Tab 2 A8 runs on a pure version of Android Lollipop 5.0 and, unlike previous models, it features an app tray to easily peruse all of your apps in one central location.

It runs a pure version of Android with some bloatware. Josh Miller/CNET

Lenovo preloads some of its own apps (some would disparagingly call this "bloatware") like a browser, contacts and a calendar app, and it also includes the SyncIt and ShareIt apps. SyncIt allows you to sync your contacts and back up or restore your microSD card, while ShareIt allows you to share documents with another tablet, phone, or PC. Neither are essential, but if you're a newbie, they're convenient to have preloaded onto the tablet and are easy to use.

Hardware

The Lenovo Tab 2 A8 houses a 1.3GHz quad-core Mediatek MT8161 CPU, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, and a microSD card slot that's expandable up to 32GB.

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