With the launch of the Ideapad K1, Lenovo now joins the likes of Acer, Dell and Asus as another major PC manufacturer to jump into the tablet market. While the K1 impresses in terms of performance and handling multimedia, it doesn't match up to the experience delivered by the iPad 2.
The Ideapad K1 is one of the heaviest tablets I've tested and at 750 grams; it's even heavier than the Acer Iconia Tab A501.
The Ideapad K1 is an Android 3.1 (Honeycomb) tablet with a 10.1-in capacitive touchscreen and a resolution of 1280x800 pixels. It also has two cameras- a primary 5MP autofocus one capable of shooting 720p videos and a secondary front-facing one for video chats. The K1 is powered by a dual-core 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 processor and a T20 ULP GeForce GPU and has 1GB of RAM. Our test unit had 32GB of internal memory and the Ideapad also supports microSD cards up to 32GB. It also has a proprietary port for charging and connecting to the PC (unfortunately no mini or microUSB ports) and a mini HDMI port too.
Lenovo has packed in a lot- and I mean a lot- of extra apps on the Ideapad K1. While many of them are very helpful- including the full version of Documents to Go, HD versions of games such as Need for Speed and Angry Birds, a couple of them veer precariously close to what we term as 'bloatware' on laptops. The extra apps also add to extra confusion when two music players and two video players appear in the list of apps. One neat app though is ArcSync that lets you backup and sync up to 4GB of data on the cloud for free.
Apart from the regular Android Market, the K1 comes with the Lenovo App Store which is basically a filtered market for Android apps which are designed for larger displays and will run well on the K1.
Design & Usability
The Ideapad K1 is one of the heaviest tablets I've tested and at 750 grams; it's even heavier than the Acer Iconia Tab A501. And while the Iconia used a generous amount of metal in its build, the K1 unfortunately relies a little too much on plastic. The back of the tablet has a leather finish which helps in good grip but it still feels plasticky. The Ideapad also doesn't possess extraordinary looks and is quite average looking.
Now that I'm on my third Honeycomb tablet, I think I can safely say that while it impressed me first (check out my review of the Acer Iconia Tab), I have begun to not care too much for the UI. In my opinion, there's too much happening onscreen in the Honeycomb UI and it makes me long for the simpler looking (and functioning) Android UI on phones. There is little uniformity among apps in terms of navigation and context menus which gets annoying very fast. On the other hand, the keyboard is accurate and the touch response is also generally accurate on the Ideapad.
I ran Quadrant Standard, GLBenchmark and AnTuTu benchmarks on the Ideapad K1. Its scores put it in the general vicinity of the Motorola Xoom and from among tablets with the same resolution, only the Acer Iconia Tab posted better numbers (about 18% higher). In real world usage, the Ideapad worked fine without any slowdowns. The tablet did crash once though during tests when attempting to play a video.
The iPad 2 still remains the benchmark in terms of battery life and while the Ideapad doesn't meet that, its battery performance is good. It lasted slightly over a day of regular usage.
Browsing & Multimedia
The Lenovo continues the tradition of excellent browsing on Android tablets. The browser has great speed even when playing two Flash videos on a site simultaneously. It also has good touch response.
Apart from an HD MKV video, the Lenovo played every one of our test videos out-of-the-box. There were no frame-rate issues to speak of apart from when playing one of our test 1080p DivX videos, but even that was hardly noticeable. Music playback is also very good with great audio quality and loud output over headphones. However, the audio output is average over the speaker and by default the tablet doesn't offer an equalizer.
The 5MP camera shoots average photos but good looking 720p videos. The front camera is also sufficient for video chats.
We've reviewed three Honeycomb, dual-core processor powered tablets so far and, on the whole, there's really nothing to separate the three of them. They still fall behind the Apple iPad 2 in terms of usability and app support but represent the best that Android has to offer in tablets.
The Lenovo Ideapad K1 stands out of the crowd in terms of excellent video playback and some excellent pre-installed apps but is hampered by its bulk, build quality and some software issues.
The Lenovo Ideapad K1 is available in India for Rs. 31,990.