We were presented with the opportunity to review one of Lenovo's recent entries in the tablet market: the Lenovo TAB 2 A7. Lenovo is a company that stepped into the big league in 2005, with the acquisition of the IBM computer division, an important player on the digital market in the '80s and the '90s. Since then, they have specialized in personal computers, laptops, notebooks and they recently got into the mobile devices market. Lenovo launched its first tablet at the beginning of 2014. The model we tested in this review, the Lenovo TAB 2 A7, is pretty young, having seen the light of day in January 2015. We tested it for about a week and we would like to share what we think about it, in this review:
Unboxing The Lenovo TAB 2 A7
The packaging Lenovo made for this tablet consists of a black cardboard box, roughly the width and height of the tablet itself, sealed with Lenovo's security sticker. The front side of the box shows a picture of the actual tablet, while the back side of the box gives some information about the tablet's specifications. The box's sides are solid black, offering no additional information.
As soon as you open the box and slide out the interior container, the first thing you see is the tablet itself, sitting on top of everything else.
Hidden under the tablet you will find the power-charger together with the microUSB charging and data cable and the Safety, Warranty & Quick Start Guide.
And this concludes the list of items you'll find in the TAB 2 A7 package.
Lenovo chose a 7" IPS LCD display with a resolution of 600x1024 pixels for this tablet, at a pixel density of 170ppi. This is not one of the most crisp displays on the market, but given the price range this tablet fits into, it reproduces colors with a surprisingly vivid and natural look. The brightness is also high enough to satisfy most users.
On the inside, the tablet is powered by a quad-core Cortex A7 CPU running at 1.3 GHz on a Mediatek MT8382M chipset. It features 1GB of RAM memory, while the graphics are taken care of by the Mali-400MP2 GPU. The internal memory capacity is 8GB, which can be expanded by using an SD memory card of up to 32 GB.
The unit we had in for reviewing is a TAB 2 A7-30F, which means that in terms of connectivity, it bases itself solely on WLAN networks. Depending on the area you find yourself in, you may find other flavours of this tablet, namely the TAB 2 A7-30HC (WLAN + 3G and voice), the TAB 2 A7-30GC (WLAN + 2G and voice) or the TAB 2 A7-30H (WLAN + 3G only). The slot for the SIM card used on cellular networks is right beside the SD memory card slot.
The physical dimensions of this tablet are 189 x 105 x 9.3 mm (Height x Width x Thickness) or 7.44 x 4.13 x 0.37 inches. It weighs at about 269 g (or 9.49 oz), which files it into the light tablets category. The battery which the device operates on is rated at 3450 mAh, which may not seem much, but given that the components inside are not that power-hungry, you may want to think again.
The TAB 2 A7 comes with a 4.4.2 KitKat version of Android preinstalled. This is a fairly recent version of Android and offers most of the newer features of the popular operating system. The ROM powering this tablet is not as personalized or branded by Lenovo as you'd expect from a mobile device manufacturer, offering instead a pretty clean flavour of Android right from the start, close to what you'd see on a stock version of Android. However, Lenovo added its own launcher and made a few minor other changes to the stock Android.
In terms of image capture, the TAB 2 A7 tablet features a front-facing VGA 640x480 pixels camera and a rear-facing 1.9 megapixel camera, with a resolution of up to 1600x1200 pixels. As you'd expect from the VGA front camera, its quality is not top-notch, but it does its job well in video calls using Skype or any other video-call app. As for connectivity, you get a Wi-Fi adapter compatible only with 802.11 b/g/n networks (no 802.11ac support), the usual Bluetooth 4.0 module, the microUSB port used for charging and data transfer, the 3.5mm audio jack and the A-GPS module.
A notable feature is the Dolby audio support, which we must say, offers a pretty neat sound quality when you use better quality headphones.
The full list of specification can be found on Lenovo's website, on the product page: Lenovo TAB 2 A7-30 - Technical Details.
Using The Lenovo TAB 2 A7
The overall build of the tablet is pretty straightforward, with no unnecessary bezels or cut corners. The front of the device shows the front-facing VGA camera on the top-left corner, near the centered logo. On the right side of the tablet you'll find the volume rocker together with the power switch, the SD memory card slot and the SIM card slot are on the left side, the microphone sits on the bottom side, while the top side houses the two-speaker setup, the microUSB port and the 3.5mm audio jack. The nice thing about this chosen layout is that with the connectors on top of the device, you don't run any risk of damaging the device when using it while charging or with the headphones audio connector inserted.
The back of the device has a matte feeling to it, offering a nice grip while you hold it. The rear-facing 1.9 megapixel camera sits in the top-left corner of the device.
One thing we really cared about is that the SD memory card slot is covered by a protective rubbery lid that prevents dust from clogging up into the cavity and fits right in line with the tablet's back cover. That's always a nice feature to have.
While the 7" IPS LCD display is not one of the best looking displays you've seen on a tablet, it surely delivers. The picture is composed of vivid colors and it's bright enough to offer decent readability. The viewing angle is also wide enough so that the user isn't constrained by holding the device perfectly straight while using it.
In regard to available storage space, 8 GB of storage is not nearly enough for any modern mobile device user. Even with the fairly low resolution of 600x1024 pixels, which means that you don't have any reason for loading 1080p videos on it, you might want to pack some 720p movies for the holidays, maybe some music and a few games on the side. With 8 GB of space, out of which only about 5 GB are available to the user, you're not left with much choice to make. Luckily, with an SD memory card of up to 32GB, purchased separately, you can expand the storage space available, giving you the possibility of storing much more content on this device. Unfortunately, there are no other variants available for this tablet to offer more internal space available, so in terms of internal storage, those 8 GB plus the mentioned SD card are all you get.
The front-facing camera Lenovo chose to put on this device is intended only for video-calling. The picture quality it offers is poor and we don't recommend using it for taking any pictures whatsoever. The rear-facing camera is more appropriate for that, but in low-light conditions, it also delivers poor results. The fact that there's no flash light present truly restricts its performance to outdoor pictures, in well-lit environments. On the good side, though, it features an electronic stabilization system and also, an HDR shooting-mode which helps a lot with quality image and image noise.
Being an entry-level tablet, the TAB 2 A7's components don't need that much power to run. This means that the tablet holds its end of the bargain and lasts for a day of normal use without any problem, depending on what you usually need. Some internet browsing, some light games and maybe taking a few photos should not drain the battery that much. On the other hand, those components aren't made for intense gaming, so you probably shouldn't choose this tablet if you're looking for a device on which you can play that latest great-looking full-of-special-effects racing game. Even if the CPU and GPU are able to run it at a decent playable frame-rate, the battery won't survive for long and you might end up tying yourself to the wall, in the vicinity of the nearest power outlet.
What we loved most about the Lenovo TAB 2 A7 is its simple, straightforward design. You'll find no revolutionary gimmicks, no "let's try this bold design scheme and see how it will be received by our users". Everything about it is as you'd expect it to be, where you expect it. It's nice to not be surprised, for a change.