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Electronista goes hands-on with two Lenovo tablets

updated 04:55 pm EDT, Sun October 7, 2012

ThinkPad Tablet 2, IdeaTab A2107 get handled

Electronista got to spend some time taking a look at two new tablets from Lenovo, the ThinkPad Tablet 2 and the IdeaTab A2107, at last week's AT&T Unwrapped 2012 event in New York. The A2017 is a 7-inch Android 4.0 tablet in the vein of Amazon's Kindle Fire and Google's Nexus 7, while the new ThinkPad Tablet is a Windows 8 affair aimed at the more productivity-minded. The two Lenovo slates will be launching shortly, likely in time for the holiday season, and both will be featured on AT&T's data network.

While the new ThinkPad Tablet will be faced with the challenge of succeeding in the as yet uncertain Windows 8 environment, the A2017 may have the tougher road ahead. Along with the Kindle Fire HD and the Nexus 7, the A2107 may have to compete with a rumored Apple iPad mini and any other small form factor tablets that may appear in the next few months. The A2107 will not be entirely ill-equipped to take on those challengers, as it packs an array of features that may make it quite appealing to consumers.

We found the A2017's 7-inch HD screen to be comparable to that seen on other smaller tablets. Its front camera should make for good video chatting, and its rear camera gives it something of an edge on the Nexus 7, though taking pictures with a 7-inch tablet is only slightly less ridiculous-looking than taking pictures with a full-sized tablet. It also packs Bluetooth 4.0 and a microUSB port. One of its bigger advantages over some competitors is a microSD card slot, accessible by removing the top portion of the device's backing. The A2107 will connect to AT&T's 3G wireless network, giving it another advantage over some other smaller tablets.

It only runs Android 4.0, but that's really not too big of a problem unless you have to have see the highest version number on your devices. What is a problem is that it appears to run the OS with a noticeable amount of lag. Android 4.1's Project Butter was designed to make the operating system run much more smoothly, so this may be something that could disappear should the A2017 see an upgrade to the latest version.

The 7-inch segment is crowded and will likely only become more so in the coming months. The A2017 looks like a solid piece of kit, but we saw little that would make it truly stand out among other competitors. Still, it might be worth a look with an OS upgrade and a bit more optimization.

A bit more impressive was the new ThinkPad Tablet, a 10.1-inch slate running the full version of Windows 8. Lenovo's more of a productivity-minded company, so our attendant showed off those aspects of the new tablet. We got a look at how the ThinkPad Tablet will handle the newest version of Office, as well as how the optional digitizer pen will fit into that workflow.

The ThinkPad Tablet 2 felt like a solid machine, well in keeping with Lenovo's tradition of dependable devices. It's not the prettiest of tablets, and it doesn't have the prettiest of accessories, but it looks to be well suited for those that want to be productive on the go. It runs Windows 8 smoothly, and Lenovo has packed it full of inputs, allowing for the attachment of an array of peripherals.

Lenovo will also be offering customers the option of multiple docks. One features a number of outputs, allowing for the ThinkPad Tablet 2 to connect to peripherals and accessories; the other is a full QWERTY keyboard with a capacitive tracknub in the middle. Again, not the prettiest of solutions, but one well geared toward productivity. We tried out the keyboard dock, finding it to be quite suitable to touch typing. It's a bit disappointing that the ThinkPad Tablet can't fold down onto the keyboard in a manner similar to Asus' Tranformer offerings, but Lenovo has at least designed a case that allows for the carrying of both tablet and keyboard.

We couldn't get a concrete release date on the A2107, and a look at Lenovo's site gave no further indication. The ThinkPad Tablet 2, though, is set to launch alongside Windows 8 at the end of this month.

by MacNN Staff



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