Who doesn’t want a tablet that can perform most tasks at a price that falls below $100? Especially in a market where a lot of competing tablets still cost around $300-500. Back in April, Lenovo released their new Tab 2 series of affordable tablets into the market to help compete against others in the price range (ie, Kindle, Hisense, etc). There is both a 7-inch model as well as a 10-inch, and of course both come in a phablet edition so that you can use them on a 3G network (at a higher price point). Today we’re going to look at the normal 7-inch WiFi model, the Lenovo Tab 2 A7-30F, a tablet that falls within the range of only $79.99-$99.99 (depending on where you find it).
It features a brilliant IPS screen with a 1024 x 600 resolution, a 1.3 quad-core processor, 1GB of memory and 8GB of internal storage (as well as support for an external microSD card). Fast enough for most tasks you’d expect out of a tablet, it easily lives up to the expectations of beginner to average level consumers.
Right from the start, you can appreciate the quality in the screen for the price you are paying. Images really pop and the screen is just the right size to easily watch movies without any eye strain (unless of course you enjoy reading a lot of subtitles maybe). Colors are rich and bright, blacks are dark and the resolution is just enough to produce a pixel-free experience.
The glass and digitizer are quite accurate and feel very natural to the touch. Fingers slide smoothly across the screen and there are minimal situations where you find yourself re-tapping to interact with objects displayed. There doesn’t seem to be anything special about the screen in terms of Gorilla Glass, so it appears to be normal glass or their own recipe, but does feels durable. We haven’t exactly put the screen to a damage test, but it should be able to withstand average to above average wear without any trouble. We would recommend a screen protector just in case.
Sound-wise, the external speaker doesn’t seem too small, but you can only expect about as much volume and range as you would a smartphone. There is nothing special here. I want to say that with their focus on Dolby-enhanced sound, that they would possibly consider a stereo design with two speaker locations, but we also have to keep the price-point in mind. As for using the headphone jack or Bluetooth headphones, the listening experience is great. Dolby’s app/settings come enabled for what they refer to as “Dolby-enhanced sound” and can be adjusted via the main Android settings, via the app icon or the slide down menu up top (where your quick toggles are found for wireless, Bluetooth and other settings). Disabling Dolby gives you a solid flat-response range being fed to your headphones while enabling Dolby gives you a rich EQ selection that seems to add depth to what you are listening too, which for movies and music is quite nice. The Dolby EQ settings are also fully adjustable, just in case you want to tweak it to your own liking.
The 1.3GHz quad-core processor seems to be more than efficient enough to run a vast selection of your favorite apps and games. We have played with a dozen or so photo editing apps, watched plenty of content on both YouTube and Netflix and spent hours listening to SiriusXM‘s Coffee House station connected to a pair of studio monitors. We also made sure to take some time out to play some Batman Arkham Origins and Mortal Kombat X, all while forgetting to close a handful of apps in the background before moving to the next (eventually gasping at how many things were running in the app switching screen). We were quite impressed with it’s task handling.
Internal space isn’t much at 8GB, but as mentioned, it does sport a slot for a microSD card where you can expand your storage with. It advertises up to 32GB–which we have tested it with–expandable space, but also lists SDXC under supported cards. This typically means you should be able to go with 64BG or higher. We plan on testing this theory out and will update the review on our findings, once we do.
WiFi strength is pretty solid as well with this tablet as we have been getting about 25-35MBps on average on the networks we have been connected to. Staying connected doesn’t seem to be a problem unless the source itself is weak. We didn’t find ourselves losing connectivity on networks while in good range and quality of signal. As mentioned, this model doesn’t support a sim card for 3G access as there is another model that does that costs quite a bit more since it is available through certain cellular companies. Typically you can expect to pay more than double the price of this tablet if you want to add 3G connectivity (not to mention the price of having to pay for monthly services).
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Battery life is also a bonus with the Tab 2 as you get more than you bargain for. Lenovo advertises up to 8 hours of usage, but we have gotten more out of i. It all depends on how you use it. If you only enable Bluetooth when you need to use it for example, and keeping the brightness at a lower level. Even at a low level, the screen is mighty bright, allowing you to save a ton of battery by keeping it low. We have left it in standby (powered on, but not unlocking it or even turning on the screen) for about 3 days and it was still going just fine, even with WiFi turned on and being connected. Depending on such conditions, it can probably sit in standby much longer. Fully recharging the tablet only takes about 2-3 hours. For the price, you are getting a killer amount of battery life with this model.
Devices are numerous when it comes to connecting toys as the Bluetooth strength is spot on. We have been able to walk more than 50 feet away from the tablet with a good pair of Bluetooth headphones connected and still have skip-free music fed to our ears. On top of that, the microUSB port on top can also be used to connect USB device–given, you do have to buy a microUSB to female USB adapter.If you get the adapter that means you can connect keyboards, mice, thumbdrives, hubs, card readers and more. We did test it out with a wireless Logitech keyboard via USB receiver as well as a FAT32 formatted thumbdrive. Both worked as expected. We also plan on testing a wired PS3 controller and will update the article once we have our findings. This is something we have confirmed in the past with certain Samsung Galaxy devices.
Speaking of ports, this tablet is very simplistic. You have a micrUSB and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Both are located on the top side of the tablet. On the left side you have a small door you pop out to access the microSD slot with. You have your volume up/down toggle and power button on the right side, and the microphone is located via the small hole on the bottom.
It has a 2MP (megapixel) rear-facing camera for taking pictures of your friends with and a typical 0.3MP front-facing camera for taking all those selfies with to send to those friends when they aren’t there to join in. The camera quality is minimal, so you won’t be having any fancy photography moments, but it’s enough for basic shots and Skype. There is no flash, so don’t expect to take any pictures are night or in dark places. Again, the cameras are there for activities like Skype mostly and to at least give you the option. Plus, what’s more annoying (and foolish looking) than someone holding up a bulky tablet during a concert to take pictures with vs spending the money on a real camera or using their smartphone (what smartphone doesn’t come with a solid camera and flash these days).
The Tab 2 also features built-in A-GPS, g-sensor, vibration and runs on Android KitKat 4.4, which they do plan on providing an upgrade to Android 5.0 Lollipop for, some time in the 3rd quarter of this year.
Now for the variables we don’t like. The tablet does not support NTFS format for the external microSD card. This leaves you with only FAT32 format, which isn’t the most resilient against file corruption and won’t support files larger than 4GB (so you are limited to the types of video files you can store). This is something we see in a lot of tablets, but worth pointing out every time. Thankfully, you shouldn’t have to deal with corrupted files or anything unless you pull the USB while syncing/transferring data to it. It;s mostly the file size limit more than anything that will affect people.
Another thing we have seen is the option to select the default write to destination. The option to choose between the internal storage and the microSD card. Since 8GB also includes the operating system and whatever software/apps they package into the mix, you only have about 4-5GB of that to play with, thus it fills up fast. By default, it has selected “Let the system choose”. We changed that immediately to SD storage since there are 32GB to play with. However, at times we find ourselves back in the settings to discover that somehow it has changed itself back to “Let the system choose”. We haven’t been able to match it to a cause, but this was a little annoying since you don’t want everything clustering up the internal storage space (best to keep that space for system files and caching for the system as well as files).
When you look at it, unless your a heavy movie junky specifically buying the tablet to watch some large HD movie files, the few complaints we pointed out aren’t show stoppers.
As mentioned, there is also a 10-inch version of the tablet that has a higher resolution (1920 x 1200), double the memory, 16GB of internal storage and sports a 1.5GHz 64bit quad-core processor. Slightly better in all ways, and carries a price tag of $199.99 typically. Also not a bad tablet it all, although we haven’t spent much time with that model since we don’t have one here at the office.
For the price, the Tab 2 is a great tablet. It’s fast enough and smart enough for most of the things you would need it for. It doesn’t have the best of camera(s) and you don’t get fancy Gorilla Glass, but it does have most everything else you would look for in a tablet. It has a great screen, solid WiFi and Bluetooth and an microSD slot. Unless you are a heavy power-user, this is a great choice. Especially for kids, on the go, music listening and specialized tasks like home automation, analytics, interactive demonstrations and more. All of this and once again, a great price. We decided to give it a 8 out of 10. What could give it a better score? For the Tab 2, simply 16GB of internal storage and the support for NTFS formatted microSD cards (and up to 128GB in expandable capacity). A perfect score would be that plus the additional of hdmi out.
Manual: Click here to download the Lenovo Tab 2 A7-30 manual
|DESCRIPTION||LENOVO® TAB 2 A7-30|
MTK 8127 Quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 (1.30GHz 1MB)
Android™ KitKat v4.4
1x Front-facing Speaker / Dolby® Audio / 3.5mm Jack
Type: 3450mAh Li-Po, fixed
|Dimensions (W x T x H)|
4.7″ x 0.4″ x 7.8″
Are you a manufacturer or distributor that would like us to test something out for review? Contact us and we can let you know where to send the product and we will try it out.
Why don’t you use exFAT on the microSD card?
The Lenovo tablets do not support the exFAT format. They only support FAT32.