Review

Lenovo IdeaPad K1

By H8tedoak

 

So you’re thinking of buying a tablet but cannot decide if the time is right, or for that matter, which one to purchase. Perhaps this will narrow the issue somewhat.

You may be toiling with the thought of waiting until a newer tablet hits the market. That might be the Lenovo IdeaPad K1 if you’re the right user.  If you’re waiting on the new iOS 5/iPad3 to come out before you buy a tablet, well that’s like waiting for Windows 8 to hit the market before you buy a PC. Likewise, since HP just turned its back on webOS, then that narrows the playing field.

When I say “if you’re the right user,” I mean if technology is not your strong point or you don’t have the time to learn the ins-and-outs of “tableture,” if that’s a word. I’m speaking to your parents or those people who may live outside the technology veil and just want be able to open the box and have a fancy machine up, running, and usable in no time.

You catch my drift? The K1 is the tab-for-dummies. It targets a mainstream consumer base with a sporty design and a software package guaranteed to make Honeycomb easier to use. In part, this is accomplished by the app bundle accompanying the purchase so users don’t have to spend too much time downloading apps out of the box. Don’t scoff, the tech-handicapped find that irritating. Further, it ships with Android 3.1 and has a two-cell battery that boasts up to ten hours of battery life. Oh, and the 32GB model rings in $449, undercutting the 32GB iPad 2 and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 by $50 to $100.

Design and Performance

Reminiscent of the Toshiba made products, the K1 has a hefty design. Weighing in at 1.65 pounds (0.7kg), the K1 is in the heavy weight class, only rivaled by the 1.66-pound Toshiba Thrive and HP’s 1.65-pound TouchPad. At 10.39 x 7.44 x 0.52 inches (264 x 189 x 13.3mm) the klutzy user will appreciate the sense of sturdiness when handling the tablet.

While I’m not sure why people want to take pictures with a tablet, the 2 megapixel front-facing camera is positioned in the upper rim, while the 5 megapixel rear cam is on the back side corner which has ovular shape and a thin metal ring around it. The position on the back is located high enough to prevent finger-blockage of the lens while shooting. It is somewhat of a pain however that the microSD outlet comes with a metal cover that needs a paper clip or the like to open.

On the bottom, there’s a 30-pin docking connector to connect the tab to the AC adapter or your PC via USB cable (both included in the bundle). You can also purchase a compatible dock for around $45 sold separately. There is a micro-HDMI socket on the bottom and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Once again, to cater to the low-tech, there is a “home button.” This is a deviation from Android type instruments but clearly a rip from the iPad. Android users might not appreciate it, iPad users might think it’s a rip, but low-tech users don’t really care. They just want to quickly get to the home screen without having a degree in technology.

You can call it bloatware or a “gift of useful apps” that accompany the bundle so you don’t have to go around searching for them in the app store. On a side note, the K1 allows you to install apps from unknown sources, but it also comes bundled with the “Lenovo App Shop” which is designed to make app finding easier. It is broken down into categories and subcategories. The selection is limited but they appear to be useful, like a VLC player and a financial calculator.
As to the bundle itself, the K1 comes with AccuWeather, Amazon Kindle, Arcade by Kongregate, 4GB of free storage through ArcSync, the IM client eBuddy, Documents to Go 3.0, File Mgmt., Movie Story, Movie Studio, mSpot and mSpot Movies, Norton Security, ooVoo for video chats, PhotoStudio, and PokeTalk.

Games include Angry Birds HD, GOF2THD, backgammon, euchre, hearts, solitaire, spades, and NFS Shift. There is also the PrinterShare for printing web pages, emails, and photos using a WiFi-enabled printer on the same network.

A biggie for those who must have Netflix pre-installed and natively running on the tablet, the K1 is just thing. Utilizing the HDMI connection, you can also stream over a larger set.
Under the hood, it has the Honeycomb Operating System with an overlaid skin that’s supposed to make it easier to use. This includes a shortcut to the tablet’s settings so you don’t have to dig around the apps menu. Further, the homepage includes shortcuts to email and the browser along with categorized, task-oriented, icons labeled “Watch,” “Listen,” and “Read.” Another categorization attempt at appealing to the low-tech I assume.

Like other Honeycomb tablets, the K1 has the 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 SoC. The performance falls a bit short compared to the Galaxy Tab 10.1 however, especially those who notice the minor lag when opening and closing apps. If that means nothing to you, then the speed will be plenty.

The K1 has a 2-cell, 7400mAh battery that “supposed” to last up to ten hours of battery life which is the same claim made by the iPad 2. Realistically, for the consumer who is looping movies and lives with WIFI on, it probably is pulling in around 8 hours. This falls short of the iPad 2’s 10 ½ and the Galaxy’s 10 hours. You’d expect the thing to kick longer with all that extra beef on the outside. Perhaps the bloatware, I mean, “bundle gifts,” drag it down.

Conclusion


Honestly, the Honeycomb seems to be the way to go and you will certainly pay more for the Galaxy Tab 10.1 but will gain speed and battery life. In reality, the K1 is marginal at best. The concept here is done better on the Asus EEE Transoformer. If you haven’t grasped much of this discussion to begin with, I highly doubt a dumbed-down version of a tablet will miraculously make it that much easier to use. If you want a tablet, you’re going to have to learn how to use it regardless. However, if ease of use and a marginally lower price is what you’re looking for, then it’s a winner. Further, as an “entertainment” tablet, it serves its function. As you can see below, social networking is a priority on the K1 and it does a good job to catering to those needs.

Specs

• NVIDIA® Tegra™ 2 T20 1.0GHz Processor
• Google Android 3.1 operating system
• 10.1” HD (1280×800) display
• 1GB DDR2 memory, 32GB SSD storage
• Integrated Bluetooth® and 802.1 b/g/n Wi-Fi connectivity
• Micro SD card reader, Mini HDMI connector & docking port
• Integrated front (2M) & back (5M) mounted webcam

Entertainment

  • Integrated front (2M) & back (5M) mounted webcam
  • Full support for the latest Flash content
  • 10-point multi-touch for an unmatched touch — screen experience
  • Instantly syncs photos, music and videos with a dedicated online storage space for easy sharing across multiple devices, or with the wider world through integration with popular social networking sites
  • Digital Rights Management (DRM) allows you to legally download & store movies on your tablet in every available format and watch them later — anywhere, anytime
  • SocialTouch® allows you to manage all your social networking engagements on sites like Facebook® and Twitter® on a single, easy-to-use interface
  • A range of addictive games like Angry Birds and Galaxy on Fire 2 THD
  • Lenovo App Shop and the Android Market ensure ready access to thousands of useful apps


About the Author

h8tedoak