Lenovo is launching a cute 7” Android tablet called Ideapad A1. It is a low-cost tablet that runs a version of Android (2.3) that is comparable to what is found in recent smartphones. The good news is that there are plenty of apps to download/use from day one. That said, I wonder how they will react to the 1024×600 resolution. I suspect that most apps will work just fine, but it’s a legitimate question.
Talking about the display, Lenovo is using a two-finger multi-touch LCD, which is probably “good enough” as few people use more than two finger gestures on tablets (some touch sensors can detect 10 or more contact points). The rest of the design seems relatively standard: the tablet is 11.95mm thick, weighs 400g and comes in four colors, which is surprising given that using additional colors tends to increase the cost of manufacturing. Offline GPS capability
One of the most interesting feature is the Offline GPS capability. If you have ever tried using a smartphone’s GPS without having a data pan, you may have found that it usually doesn’t work. This is very annoying when you are traveling to a foreign country as you probably don’t have a data plan (or want to commit financial suicide by roaming data).
Lenovo has recognized this as a real problem, and made sure that the IdeaPad A1 GPS can get a fix, and has access to offline maps. This is great and I wish that others would follow. I love online maps, but they are simply useless if there is no connectivity.
Lenovo Social Touch
The second particularity of the A1 tablet is the Lenovo Social Touch interface. It displays a stream of (unified) text communication that includes Email and most top social networks. There’s even a preview window that lets you take a good look at messages without having to leave Social Touch. The idea seems good, but this is something that would require real-world testing before I can provide an educated opinion.
In the meantime, the $199 pricing makes it an option worth considering – if system performance is decent, which remains to be seen. Lenovo has not told us what processor its tablet is using, and this is usually not a good sign when it comes to performance (everyone likes to brag a little, right?). That said, they told us what battery life they expect: 7 hours worth of web browsing.