With 10-inch Android tablets costing about twice as much as 7-inch tablets, there ought to be a market opportunity for mid-size tablets--those that fall between the 7- and 10-inch in price but offer most of the features of the 10-inch models. This appears to be the idea behind Lenovo's new IdeaPad A2109, a 9-inch tablet running Android 4.0. Does it hit the mark?
The IdeaPad A2109 first appeared at the IFA show in Berlin last month as the first member a new "affordable" Android tablet series. It will be joined later this year by the A2107, a 7-inch model sharing many of the same features.
From the specs (see the table below), it's clear that the IdeaPad A2109 implements virtually all the features and functions we've come to expect from current-generation Android tablets. However, several concerns are worth mentioning. One is that the A2109 is surprisingly heavy for its size--at 20 ounces it's just one ounce shy of the 10-inch Galaxy Tab 2 10.1. Holding it with one hand, in portrait mode, which is commonly done with 7-inch tablets and eReaders, quickly becomes fatiguing. It doesn't help that the metal alloy casing is slippery and tapers at the edges, which makes hanging on to it with one hand a risky business. This is based on my experience, of course--I have medium-size hands--and your mileage might vary.
A greater concern is the A2109's lack of screen brightness compared with other current-generation tablets such as the Galaxy Tab 2, Nexus 7, Kindle Fire, and iPad. When placed side by side the different is remarkable: the A2109 looks about half as bright. Specs back this up: The screen of the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is rated at 450 nits, and the A2109's screen delivers just 260 to 290 nits. It's more than usable, provided you don't need to use it in direct sunlight.
Inside the A2109
The A2109 is powered by a quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor, accompanied by 1 GB RAM and 16 GB of flash storage memory. Other key features include its 9-inch 1280 x 800-pixel screen, dual cameras, stereo speakers, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, and a beefy 6000 mAh battery. Lenovo says the tablet has a metal alloy "roll cage" case inspired by the ThinkPad's, but we didn't see any overt resemblance.
IdeaPad A2109 specs vs. the 7- and 10-inch competition
The table below compares the A2109's and specs to those of its most prominent 7- and 10-inch Android tablet competitors.
|Google Nexus 7||Lenovo IdeaTab A2109||Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1|
|Processor||1.3GHz quad-core||1.2GHz quad-core||1GHz dual-core|
|Internal flash||8GB or 16GB||16GB||16GB|
|microSD flash exp.||no||no||yes|
|OS||Android 4.1||Android 4.0||Android 4.0|
|Display area||22 in2||37 in2||46 in2|
|Display brightness||~ 400 nits||~ 275 nits||~ 450 nits|
|Battery||4325 mAh||6000 mAh||7000 mAh|
|Continuous Netflix (full brightness)||~ 5 hrs||~ 5 hrs||~ 5 hrs|
|Size (in.)||7.8 x 4.7 x 0.4||9.3 x 6.5 x 0.5||10.1 x 6.9 x 0.4|
|Weight||12 oz||20 oz||21 oz|
|Price||$199 (8GB) $249 (16GB)||$299 (16GB)||$399 (16GB)|
From the specs it's clear that as the tablet sizes get larger, so do their battery capacity, weight, and cost. The graphic below indicates the relative size of the three tablets.
Comparing three Android tablet form factors.
Note that although the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1's screen area is about one-fourth larger than the IdeaPad A2109's, it weighs a mere 1 ounce (5 percent) more than the IdeaPad does. I'll have more to say about that shortly, but first let's check out the Lenovo tablet's user interface, home screens, and apps.