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Lenovo IdeaPad K1 review

Verdict

A good price for a reasonable Android tablet; some niggles, but nothing massively serious

Review Date: 8 Sep 2011

Reviewed By: Jonathan Bray

Price when reviewed: £300 (£360 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Features & Design
4 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Performance
4 stars out of 6

Lenovo is a name more commonly associated with executive IT equipment than shiny gadgets, but its IdeaPad K1 Android 3 tablet is a sign it wants to bring its expertise to a wider audience.

Physically, there are still shades of the executive heritage: the rear panel of our review model was clad in a soft brown leatherette material (although Lenovo insists the only version available officially in the UK will be black). There's a veritably PC-like array of expansion and connection options, with not only a slot for a microSD flash memory cards, but also a micro-HDMI output and a stubby cable in the box for connecting USB memory sticks, a keyboard or mouse.

And, just as with its successful line of ThinkPad laptops, the K1 is absolutely loaded with software. Lenovo provides its own app store (in addition to the Android Market), a fully licensed copy of DataViz Documents To Go, plus its own versions of the Music and Gallery apps, two video-editing apps and a selection of HD games – Angry Birds HD is there, Need for Speed Shift HD, plus a number of others. It’s quite a selection.

Lenovo IdeaPad K1

Then there’s a handful of tweaks to the Android 3 operating system. The system bar that runs along the bottom of the screen has bolder, brighter icons than normal. The menu you get when you tap the notifications area in the bottom-right corner of the screen has more options, and is scrollable.

Lenovo has replaced the stock Android keyboard with its own, added a “favourite” apps section to the bottom of the Android App Drawer, and bizarrely introduced a duplication of Android 3's recent apps menu. Instead of appearing in a straight line up the left of the screen, Lenovo's version pops up to the right as a spinning circle of thumbnails, launched via a button in the middle of the system bar.

In one final, innovative splurge, the K1's single, physical home button, which sits to the right of the screen when the tablet is held in landscape orientation, is touch sensitive. An upwards sweep of the thumb pops up the context menu; a downwards sweep takes you back a step; and pressing the button returns you to the main Android desktop.

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User comments

Why do tablets even have a main camera?

I can understand the front camera is useful for video calls, but the main camera does seem pointless.

That said I did see a child fish an iPad out of her mum's bag and take a picture at Woburn Safari Park.

By tirons1 on 8 Sep 2011

@tirons1

I agree - some innovation needed here. Why not copy the pivoted camera arrangement you see on the top of some laptop screens. One camera would serve both front and rear and you could also angle it to shoot in a Hasselblad posture with the tablet held horizontal at stomach height.

Oh and " resolutions of 5 and 2-megapixels respectively" should surely be the other way round - the higher resolution on the rear?

By JohnAHind on 8 Sep 2011

Swivel camera

@JohnAHind, the Notion Inks Adam tablet has a camera which swivels through 180 degrees, but as its not made by Apple I guess others are safe to make something similar without fear of being sued!

By RonManser on 8 Sep 2011

Swivel Camera

A swivel camera is more complicated, will take up more space, a thicker top-edge bezel; require mechanical movement. Majority of users are just too lazy to use a swivel camera.

By Duggie on 8 Sep 2011

VR applications

I imagine the purpose of rear facing cameras is for virtual reality applications where you point your tablet at something and see an image enhanced with additional information.

Anyone (adult) using it to take pictures would be a little foolish.

By ironbath on 8 Sep 2011

Appearance

This is not just trolling, I promise, but given the appearance of this pad, won't Apple have to extend their legal offence to this device as well as the Samsung one(s), in order to preserve the integrity of their litigations? Surely, they cannot be selective over such things.

By PaleRider on 9 Sep 2011

Why, why are they all producing 'landscape' formats when 4x3 is far more sensible?

By bubbles16 on 11 Sep 2011

@tirons1

Just because it's no use to you doesn't mean it's useless. I agree that it's a bit silly as a normal camera but a good rear camera could be very useful for things like taking pictures of (for example) documents to annotate records for a variety of purposes.

My dad is very keen on family and local history research and I would have bought him an iPad for keeping newspaper clippings and register pages directly with notes if the main camera were not such an unremitting bag of #$*^!

By bradype on 11 Sep 2011

@tirons1 &bradype

Recently at a conference where those without ipads (like me) were frantically making notes on paper of anything interesting.
Those with ipads were simply holding them up to capture an image then annotate notes on top.
mind you, those with ipads spent the evening being paranoid about getting mugged while those with pen and paper got p$$ed in town.

By darkhairedlord on 13 Sep 2011

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