Lenovo IdeaPad Tablet K1 Review

User Interface and Camera Performance

Interestingly enough, the software side of things is where Lenovo also decided to add some special sauce to the IdeaPad Tablet K1.  Though the device  is configured with a stock Android 3.1 installation, Lenovo tweaked the UI slightly in a couple of key areas to provide additional utility over what comes standard with Honeycomb currently.

Widgets and home screen functionality are similar with the K1, though Lenovo places a large featured apps widget right in the middle of the home screen.  Dubbed "Lenovo Launcher," this 5 zone customizable widget gives quick access to your most often used apps.  Lenovo also places a couple of custom quick control widgets on the home screen for things like audio mute and system lock.  But the widget customization doesn't stop there.  The K1 also sports a multi-app widget (middle shot above) that will display calendar, gmail, email and social networking updates in a single pane.  You'll also note that the standard Honeycomb Home, Back and App Layers icons have been customized a bit so they're a more bold and visible flat white. And as the saying goes, "but wait, there's more!"

Left, Center and Right:  Installed Apps, App Killer and App Wheel

You've also probably noticed the App Wheel widget in the middle of the taskbar.  It looks like a conversation bubble with six small boxes in it.  Tap the App Wheel icon and on the right side of your screen will show a jog wheel of favorite apps that you can easily flip through.  You can also edit the App Wheel to add or subtract apps showing in it.  The other nice feature built into the K1 UI is Lenovo's red App Killer Xs that can be seen in the top right corner of any app being shown in the Android App Layers pane.  Just click a red X and that application will no longer be running in the background.  Google, why didn't you think of this?  Well done, Lenovo.  Thank you.

The K1 also has a few other customized apps, like Lenovo's image gallery, which is definitely slicker than the stock Android app.  In addition, Lenovo's file manager offers organized access to on-board and removable storage, with a custom-built interface.  Finally there are other bells and whistled bundled in with K1, like Lenovo's Draw app.  All told, Lenovo did a real nice job of equipping the K1 with a lot of useful tools and utilities.

In the entertainment area, Lenovo bundles trial versions of Galaxy on Fire 2 HD and Need For Speed Shift HD.  These are solid, fun game titles and graphically they're fairly impressive, in terms of what can be rendered on a slate PC these days.

Galaxy on Fire 2 HD and Need for Speed Shift HD

Prince of Persia: Sands of Time - via Netflix

In other top billing for Lenovo, is the fact that the IdeaPad Tablet K1 comes bundled with Netflix.  The K1 is actually the first tablet, according to Lenovo, to ship with Netflix and it's setup to run cleanly right out of the box.  Lenovo claims the K1 has "hardware-enabled DRM" capabilities for streaming protected content from anywhere.  We actually logged in to our existing Netflix account and fired up a movie we had remaining in the queue.  Prince of Persia: Sands of Time played rather well and looked good too, in HD format over 802.11n WiFi.  We did notice an occasional pause or two for buffering but overall the experience was satisfying, frame rates were good and image quality was respectable, though not perfect.
Android 3.1 Camera App and Snoozy K9

And finally there's the K1's camera hardware and camera app, which are standard fare these days for Honeycomb slates.  The K1's camera performance was about on par with what we've seen with other tablets, though the addition of a flash on the rear- facing camera is something that even Toshiba's decked-out Thrive tablet can't claim.

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