Lenovo IdeaPad Tablet K1 Review

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It might not be as thin as the iPad 2 or Galaxy Tab 10.1 but Lenovo's design has a high quality fit and finish to it that is distinctly IdeaPad-esque.  The almost pewter color frame of the IdeaPad Tablet K1 feels rigid and strong in the hand, more-so even than the Asus Transformer.  The tablet is a bit on the hefty side though, at 1.5lbs, but that's still pretty light, so you'll live.


Lenovo IdeadPad K1 Rear-Facing Camera (right) and Screen Capture Button (left)


The back of the K1 unit that we received wasn't the glossy, colored version that you may have seen.  Instead we got a flat black rubberized surface on our K1, which made it completely resistant to fingerprints back there, as well as "zero skid" on a desk or coffee table.  We're actually quite fond of the backing on this slate, and the dual stereo speakers residing on the back bezel, feel (and sound) relatively well placed as well.  If you're considering a K1, we'd suggest going with this finish as it will wear far better than the glossy painted surfaces that are available on other models.  We should note that the backing of the K1 is not removable like Toshiba's Thrive and its battery is not user serviceable.

    
Though the K1 may be .5 inches thick at its thickest point, Lenevo designed its casing with tapered edges all around, so it actually doesn't look as bulky as you might think.  Overall the feel is decidedly less bulky than that of the Toshiba Thrive, though the K1 is only .15 inches thinner.  The K1's design is fairly minimalistic with only micro HDMI, headphone, speaker and a docking port available beyond its micro SD card slot.  There is a screen orientation lock switch available on the K1, which is a nice addition.  However, what's perhaps most interesting is the K1's screen capture button on the front face of the tablet on the right side of its bezel (left-hand shot, top of this page).  Pressing and holding this button down a couple of seconds provides a perfect screen capture of whatever is on the tablet at that time. 

A few tablets have this capability as a function mapping off already dedicated buttons but this was the first time we've seen a dedicated button for the function and it was a welcome feature to use.  It helped immensely in preparing screen captures for the following page of software and user experience coverage that we have for you next.

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The final price of $499.00 is surprising considering past pricing for IBM/Lenovo branded products.

I liked that the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer performed so well in the performance tests. It's the one Android Tablet that I've liked the most so far.

Lenovo's interface tweaks aren't enough to change my mind though.

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@realneil I've been pro transformer from day 1.....and I'll really be pro transformer if the rumors are true that the first kal-el device is going to be the transformer 2. I'm also assuming ice cream sandwich, should be killer.

I really like the ui tweaks Lenovo has going on, the app kill button is huge!!! Great work.

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I am not spending this kind of money on a tablet until they make them with a 12 to 14 inch screen. People like me with big fingers don't do well with tiny screens like this. I had my mother try my daughters Asus EEE Pad Transformer and she couldn't handle the tiny size. She liked the concept but no go on the size.

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I'm a big fan of my ASUS transformer. My $600 laptop sits idle now. It really is a great user experience, IMO. The keyboard dock really adds to the utility. My only real gripe is the video playback. It struggles with some HD content. What really pleases me, and was my primary concern when I picked it up in June, are the timely updates. It does not take long for ASUS to rollout firmware updates for both the pad and the dock. It took about a week or two for 3.1 & 3.2 to hit my tablet after the release from google.

I have rather large fingers too, and I do not struggle with the touch interface except when trying to select text from a webpage or Polaris document (another great feature of the ASUS). I don't suspect screeen size will help much though, since text will likely be rendered about the same size.

The keyboard seems cramped at times, but show me a 10" netbook that doesn't. The only thing I really missed at first was Swype. But fortunately, the Swype 3.0 beta rolled out a month after I got the Transformer, and it made the user experience complete for me.

I'm not sure how much I'd like the dock configuration of this Lenovo iteration. I like the fact the ASUS folds up like a netbook (and provides extra battery to boot).

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For video on the web skyfire works the best. I have used for some videos and it rocks.

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Paid $340 and $54 for docking station. Just received Friday so learning. Easy set up...could use another port or two.

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Thank you for this very comprehensive review. I have read a number of detailed spec sheets and I am unable to confirm either an accelerometer or an electronic gyroscope. You also claim that the USB/dock cable will charge the device. Users are complaining loudly that it does not. Finally, users are complaining that the purported ability to download DRM movies and watch them later instead of streaming, i.e. a Netflix movie on a airplane, is not possible. I was able to confirm both in writing on the Internet and by a telephone call to Lenovo presales that this model includes a SIM card port, but there is no plan to make a functional either now or in the future. When I asked why it was put in I was told a 3G model would be offered in the future and they didn't want to have to change the form factor/factory assembly process. Who knows? However, the person I talked to clearly understood my question and my persistence in a full answer.

Also, some vendors are claiming that this device is not available from the manufacturer. This may be just a snarky way of stating that they are out of stock and Lenovo is unwilling to restock them before Christmas. My white K1, purchase from B&H, will arrive December 5 and was $299 all in, i.e., tax and shipping included. For my first fondle slab of any description I believe I have done well. I certainly would not pay an additional $100 + for any of the other models mentioned in this article. Provantage lists it for $291 backordered 4-5 weeks. I.e., not before Christmas.

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