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Lenovo IdeaTab S2110 Tablet Review
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Date: Nov 01, 2012
Section:Mobile
Author: Joshua Gulick
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Introduction and Specifications
Although Nvidia's Tegra 3 has been taking tablets and smartphones by storm, there are other noteworthy mobile processors out there, including Qualcomm's dual-core, 1.5GHz 8060A. The Snapdragon S4 SoC appears in the Lenovo IdeaTab S2110, which is a 10.1-inch tablet that runs Android Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0. That's not a bad setup for a tablet, particularly if you're shopping on a tighter budget.

Lenovo took a different approach with the IdeaTab S2110’s display than we usually see. Whereas other tablet makers are gunning for the highest resolution displays, Lenovo opted for a 10.1-inch screen with 1280 x 800 resolution and a 16:10 ratio. That means 1080p is out of the question, but the screen has upsides to consider, including 420-nit brightness built in IPS technology with 178-degree viewing angles. While testing the IdeaTab S2110, we found viewing angles to be as excellent and Lenovo claims: you can show a video to a small group without anyone feeling cramped. The screen responded well to our pinches, swipes, and taps as well. 
 

Lenovo IdeaTab S2110
Specifications & Features
Operating System

Display

Processor

Memory

Internal Storage

Wireless Connectivity



Camera


Audio


Ports

Sensors

Size




Battery Life

Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich
 
10.1-inch IPS multitouch display (1280 x 800) resolution) with 178-degree visibility

1.5GHz Qualcomm 8060A Dual-Core Processor

1GB LP-DDR2 RAM

16GB/32GB (16GB on the model we tested)

802.11b/g/n Wireless
Bluetooth 4.0
A-GPS
3G WCDMA/EVDO

1.3MP Front Camera: 720p Video Recording
5MP Rear Camera: Autofocus, LED Flash

SRS TruMedia Sound
3.5mm Audio Jack

Micro-USB, Micro-HDMI, SIM Card (Keyboard Dock adds 2 USB 2.0 ports and SD Card Reader)

Ambient Light Sensor, E-Compass, G-Sensor, Gyro-Sensor

Tablet Size: 10.22 x 7 x 0.34 Inches
Tablet Weight: 1.3 pounds
Keyboard Dock Size: 10.22 x 7.48 x 0.38 Inches
Keyboard Dock Weight: 1.32 pounds

Without Keyboard Dock: Up To 10 Hours Video Playback
With Keyboard Dock: Up To 20 Hours Video Playback/30 Days Standby

The tablet also has 1GB of RAM and 16GB or 32GB of internal data storage. For connectivity, the S2110 has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and A-GPS. Also, optional 3G connectivity is supported, though it was not present in the model we tested.

On the front, you have a 1.3-megapixel camera that supports video recording in 720p. The rear camera is the more serious one, with 5MP resolution, autofocus, an ambient light sensor, and an LED flash.

As hip as we tablet-toters are, many of us are finding that we’re not too cool for keyboards. You can get an awful lot of emailing done with the onscreen keys, but when it’s time to really write, only a true keyboard will do. For tablet makers, the challenge is to provide a functional, sturdy keyboard without killing the tablet’s style. The Lenovo IdeaTab S2110’s Keyboard Dock scores a big win for function and makes the tablet only a little less cool.

As with most tablets, the detachable keyboard is optional for the IdeaTab S2110. You can pick up the IdeaTab S2110 for $399 (as configured in the model we tested), or buy the IdeaTab and Keyboard Dock for $499. That price tag is in line with pricing from Lenovo’s competition.

The tablet has a micro-USB port, which connects it to your computer or to the Keyboard Dock, as well as a micro-HDMI port for 1080p playback on your HDTV. There’s also a slot for a SIM card. The Keyboard Dock adds a couple USB 2.0 ports and, importantly, an SD card reader. Another Dock bonus is the built-in battery, which extends the IdeaTab S2110’s overall battery life for up to 20 hours of up time claimed, even constantly playing back 720p video content.
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Design
The Lenovo IdeaTab S2110 isn’t flashy, but it has a clean look and you can barely feel the transition from the glass screen to the thin metal edge. The sides have only two buttons: Power and Volume. Overall, this tablet has a solid “one-piece” feel to it. That is, until you plug the S2110 into the Keyboard Dock.
 

One of the things we like most about the Keyboard Dock is also the very thing that makes the tablet look a little bulky when the two are connected: the Dock's connector. It encompasses a portion of the tablet, so the connector is obviously bigger than the tablet itself. The result is a noticeable bump in what would be (if this were a laptop) a very sleek clamshell. In our opinion, the connector puts a dent in the S2110’s appearance though it does add some sturdiness to the design. 

 

 
Even so, we really like the Dock, and we like that the bulky connector is so sturdy. Pop the tablet into the connector and the two are now connected so solidly that you won’t hesitate to adjust the screen angle by pushing or pulling at the top of display. There’s no wobbling or looseness at all. And you can pull the tablet back out of the connector with a push of the Dock’s button, which is right under the Lenovo logo.

 

Although the keyboard is necessarily cramped, the keys are responsive and we didn’t feel uncomfortable typing on them. As you might expect, the keyboard had Android home and back keys. There’s no backlight, which is understandable, but it always feels like a missed opportunity to pass on the backlight in keyboards for modern mobile devices. The Dock’s touchpad is very responsive. Although this is a subjective assessment, we really like the touchpad and had no trouble with precision when we moved the cursor around the screen. It also handled taps just fine. The touchpad is small, but it didn’t feel cramped under typical use.

 

By itself, the IdeaTab S2110 is very thin – only 0.34 inches thick. It weighs about 1.3 pounds, a smidge less than the iPad. The Keyboard Dock is almost the same size as the IdeaTab, but 0.38 inches thick and 1.32 pounds. When the system is connected and closed, it’s still a light, slim package that doesn’t take up much room (or, more importantly, add much heft to) your bag.

One design gripe we have is the FCC info label, which sits right on the back of the IdeaTab S2110. The sticker has white text and is hard to miss on the textured black shell of the tablet – it brings to mind the ugly labels that the IT department might put on your work computer. We’ve seen this label appear in less obtrusive spots on other tablets (such as the side, namely). You can’t escape the label by plugging it into the Keyboard Dock, either: it’s positioned so that it appears just above the Dock. Alas, just pull it off and wipe down the glue residue if needed with a bit of solvent and you're good to go.

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User Interface
As we noted earlier, the IdeaTab S2110’s touchscreen is very responsive, making it easy to swipe and tap your way around the Android OS. Lenovo gave the classic interface a light but important touch: the folders and widgets are big and easy to see. They have the look of inter-office envelopes, complete with ties, which adds a little flavor to the otherwise staid interface.

 

As for included apps, there are quite a few, though there aren't many standouts. Evernote is already installed, as is Skype, ooVoo, gTalk, Kindle, and some other freebies. Go Keyboard is a keyboard app that lets you customize your onscreen keyboard. It's handy if you want to have a large onscreen keyboard for longer typing sessions.
 

 

For malware protection, Lenovo went with a 31-day trial of Norton Tablet Security, which is exactly as slick as you’d expect it to be. It can scan your tablet on a daily/weekly/monthly schedule and scan an SD card on demand. Norton actively blocks suspect websites when you surf on the Android browser. One-month subscriptions are $2.99 via Norton reseller Lotaris, but that doesn’t get you the Anti-Theft feature, which requires a separate purchase.
 

 

Other apps include PrinterShare, for printing just about anything to a Wi-Fi printer and several games, including Backgammon and Solitaire. DataViz DocsToGo comes installed, but you’ll need a paid upgrade to create Word or Excel documents.

  

The Camera app has a clean interface that keeps most of the settings and features hidden until you seek them out. You could hand it to a stranger for an impromptu photo op and they’d be able to figure it out. The advanced features give you control over the flash and a few scene presets, as well. And, the app also handles video recording.
 

 

By the way, the Lenovo App Store is no more. We noticed the Lenovo App Store on the interface when we fired up the tablet, but an update removed it. Lenovo tells us that it has canceled its app store and is relying on the Google Play Store, which is available right from the main page.

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Performance: CPU and Web Browsing
The Google Play Store has plenty of benchmarks for testing your tablet’s processor and graphics performance. We’ve rounded up a few that, together, provide a comprehensive picture of a tablet’s capabilities.

As with all of the tablets we test, the Lenovo IdeaTab S2110 runs through the benchmarks with the same settings it had when it arrived from the manufacturer. The only exception is that we disable any screensavers and sleep settings, as those can interfere with benchmark results.

CPU Performance Testing
Android CPU Testing

We kicked things off with Linpack, which runs the tablet through linear equations. It’s a widely-used benchmark and we’ve tested many tablets with it, so we have a deep pool to compare the IdeaTab S2110 to. As it turned out, the IdeaTab performed very well in Linpack, taking the top spot from its other Android peers.

Web Browser/JavaScript Performance Testing
Android Browser Testing

The IdeaTab S2110 also fared well in SunSpider, a well-known JavaScript benchmark. Here, the tablet scored 1867, putting it near the top of our pool. The tablet clearly has some processing chops, even if it’s not at the front of the pack.



When we put the IdeaTab S2110 through the Rightware BrowserMark benchmark, the tablet stumbled a bit, landing in the lower half of our comparison scores. Even so, this is a reasonable score and many of the Android competitors are tightly grouped in this test. Now, for the graphics benchmarks.

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Performance: Graphics and System Level
In An3DBench XL, which is a port of the jPCT 3D engine, tablets run through several rendering tests and demos. We opted for three of them. When comparing these results, keep in mind that the Emperor’s New Clothes is limited by V-Sync. The result is that the frame rates for that test are generally pretty similar.



The IdeaTab S2110 had no trouble with the Emperor’s New Clothes, but didn’t perform as well in Flower Power and Magic Island. Again, that’s not unexpected, and the tablet holds its own.

AnTuTu Android Benchmark
Subsystem level performance measurements
Another benchmark staple is AnTuTu, which runs several demos and tests aimed at measuring several component categories, including processor, GPU, RAM, and IO. The test provides individual scores for these categories and also creates an overall score.

The IdeaTab S2110 slogged through the AnTuTu benchmark with an overall score of 6569. This score is disappointing, but given the tablet's performance in the other benchmarks, we can see the big picture: the S2110 is a generally solid performer especially when it comes to graphics.  You'll note the S2110's GPU score here is the highest of the bunch, though it can't compete in raw CPU power versus the quad-core Tegra 3 based tablets in this test.

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Battery Life
Battery life is critical for tablets, particularly for tablets that have keyboards. If you’re thinking about buying a tablet to stand in for your laptop, strong battery life is a must.

To stretch the IdeaTab S2110’s battery life, Lenovo has a backup battery in the Keyboard Dock. Plug the tablet into the Dock, and it immediately taps your backup power. According to Lenovo, the setup boosts the tablet’s 10 hours of normal use to 20 hours.

On its own, the IdeaTab S2110 held out for 8 hours and 13 minutes, which isn't quite long enough to put it in our chart's top five. That's better battery life than the bulk of the tablets we've recently reviewed, though - and that's without the Keyboard Dock's backup battery. When we ran the same test on the S2110 docked, it took the top spot with 12 hours and 56 minutes of usable battery life.

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Performance Summary and Final Thoughts
Performance Summary: The Lenovo IdeaTab S2110 is a modest, sturdy tablet that gives off a vibe of dependability. It isn’t flashy, but it is comfortable to use and it’s small and light enough to be a good travel companion. And although the screen doesn’t have the resolution that higher-end tablets offer, it’s plenty bright and has excellent viewing angles.

Likewise, the tablet won’t knock your socks off when it comes to performance (particularly graphics), but it can certainly hold its own versus other Android slates. We didn’t notice any hiccups when navigating the OS, opening programs, and browsing the Web. It handled streaming video just fine, too, and it handled other ordinary tasks, like connecting to our Wi-Fi network, without a glitch.

We like the way the tablet and the Keyboard Dock connect: when they’re together, the combined system really feels like a laptop. The display doesn’t wobble and the keyboard/touch pad work seamlessly on the tablet. And we don’t get the sense that repeated connecting/disconnecting is likely to weaken the connector.

As we mentioned, the FCC label would have been less obtrusive in a different location on the tablet. And, Ice Cream Sandwich isn’t the most recent version of Android – we would have liked to have seen Jelly Bean in actiona. Even so, the IdeaTab S2110 isn’t going to disappoint typical users. We think Lenovo can hit a broad range of consumers with a modest-but-dependable tablet like this.


 
  • Thin and light, but sturdy
  • Bright screen
  • Above-average battery life
  • Tablet and Keyboard Dock work well together
 
  • Middle-of-the-road performance
  • Bulky Keyboard Dock interferes with otherwise sleek look
  • Weird FCC label placement


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