The hunt for a quality tablet that won’t break your budget is an elusive one. There are some really low prices out there, and the Android tablet landscape is littered with tablets that should not exist, because they are incredibly bad. So, what is a budget conscious tech nerd to do? The answer used to be, “Get a Nexus” and indeed once upon a time, the Nexus 7 tablet was extremely budget friendly and worked pretty well. But since the Nexus 9’s $400 price tag came out, we’ve been searching for other options. Amazon? Samsung? The good people over at Lenovo think they might have the answer.
Enter the Lenovo Tab 2 A10-70. Long, complicated name aside, the Tab 2 A10-70 comes in at under the $200 price point, currently retailing on Amazon at around $180. This is a low-priced tablet running a lightly skinned Android Lollipop. So is it worth the price? Let’s give it a look.
Hardware · Software · Camera · Performance
Right off the bat, the Lenovo Tab 2 A10-70 looks like every other black slab you’ve seen in the hands of colleagues and coworkers. The main thing that stands out is the large Lenovo branding on the front. We’re not sure if that’s a good thing because it stands out or a bad thing because it stands out. We suspect most people won’t mind either way.
On the face, we have a 10.1 inch 1920 x 1200 IPS LCD panel weighing in at 224 ppi. This is not too shabby, which is a good thing since the panel is naturally the first impression one gets from a tablet and arguably the most critical component. The screen is a little on the hard side to read in full sunlight, even at maximum brightness. Viewing angles are just fine and the images produced are relatively crisp. Blacks are a bit grey and whites are pretty white. Overall, the panel is not a problem on this budget tablet.
On the inside, our review unit came with 16GB of storage (of which about 12 is user accessible), expandable by another 32GB via the microSD slot on the back. A MediaTek quadcore 1.7 Ghz preocessor and 2 GB of RAM are awaiting your not-overly-heavy multitasking projects and a 7000 mAh battery will power you through the day…or two. More on that later.
When held in landscape, the volume and power keys are located conveniently on the left side along with the micro USB port. The headphone jack is located on the top of the device. Rounding out the hardware, you have an 8 megapixel camera on the rear of the tablet and a 5 megapixel shooter on the front.
The rear-facing speaker is not overly loud and a little on the tinny side.. This is a little surprising considering the Dolby logo on the speaker grill. You can adjust the sound output slightly with some on-board software controls for Dolby Atmos, a speaker technology developed by Dolby Labs. In this case, we’re going to encourage them to keep on developing that tech.
The overall build of the device is on the cheap side. Plastic is the hardware of choice with quite a bit of trampoline-like give on the back side of the device. The tablet is a bit on the beefy side at 500 grams. All this is what you would expect from a sub-$200 tablet.
Once you power up your new tablet you are greeted by a very lightly-skinned Android Lollipop experience. There is some software shipped with the tablet, including the aforementioned Dolby Atmos controls. Lenovo also includes cloud backup software and file sharing software (with other Lenovo tablets). The cloud backup software is nice – never can back up too much, we always say. The file sharing software is also convenient as long as you’re sharing with another Lenovo device.
In the settings, there are some nifty features you can enable. Screen-off gestures can wake the tablet up with a double tap, quick launch the camera by drawing a “C” on the screen. These are some of the little touches that make a tablet nice to use, but the gestures and what they launch are predefined. You can only choose to turn them on or off. We’d rather choose what those gestures launch ourselves. You might use the “C” for camera occasionally, but you’ve likely never really had a pressing need to jump straight into a web browser or contacts from a turned off screen.
Beyond that, there’s really not much to say here. The experience is mostly-stock, which is good, but it adds little personality to the tablet. Whether or not that’s good or bad depends largely on the user. For us it was fine; your mileage may vary.
Despite the fact that this is a tablet, and if you’re taking a photo with a tablet you make people sad, perhaps you want to know about the cameras on board. There are two – a front-facing five-megapixel camera and a rear-facing eight-megapixel camera. Both of these cameras fall into the adequate category. Please don’t try to take photos of little Brittney and a Disney Princess with this camera. You won’t like the results. And you might be fed a poisoned apple for your trouble.
If you’re outside, on a sunny day, you’ll be in better shape, but still not great as colors tend to over-saturate. The five-megapixel front facing camera is no better. It is adequate for video conferencing, but you can leave the selfies at the door.
But isn’t that the point of cameras on a tablet? Perhaps we’ve fallen into a rut in regards to cameras – judging them based on their ability to photograph hummingbirds feeding from flowers. But we’ve already said tablet cameras aren’t meant for filming little Johnny’s soccer game. They’re for video conferencing, and photo-scanning documents, and business cards. In those cases, these cameras will be up to the task.
Under the hood, this tablet performs pretty well. Whether one is racing around the streets of Barcelona, bombing other Boom Beach bases, or Clashing with Clans around the neighborhood, this tablet is up to the task. Games like Asphalt 8 do stutter very briefly from time to time, but not in a deal-breaking kind of way.
We tried all manner of games and graphic-heavy content with the tablet – Asphalt 8, MLB AtBat video playback, HD YouTube content. Overall, in the performance department aside from occasional hiccups, you wouldn’t know you were using a cheap tablet. Which is a really great thing.
On the other hand, basic tasks like opening the multi-tasking rolodex or switching between apps tend to be on the slow side. Opening the keyboard has a noticeable lag. So you can fly through the air with the greatest of ease in a Tesla roadster, but you’ll lag when you’re Googling something. Go figure.
As for battery life, we came away fairly impressed getting two solid days out of the tablet before needing to charge. That included over eight and one half hours of screen on time. We played games, streamed movies, read books – all activities that would tax any electronic device. The battery life on this tablet did not disappoint. Whenever you need to try to kill a battery on a device (by leaving it playing Despicable Me in the other room so you can accurately report how long it takes for the battery to die), that usually means good things.
We received two review units from Lenovo. Our first was returned due to some network connectivity issues. The network connection was spotty and once it connected, it had a hard time holding that connection. Our replacement unit behaved better, but we still found the network connection to be shaky during initial setup. This seemed to settle down after setup was complete, so it’s difficult to be sure what exactly the problem may be. Over the final two days of evaluation with the second unit, network connectivity was steady, with only the occasional hiccup. Clash of Clans, which requires a constant, almost obsessive network connection does not cooperate with this tablet. We suspect that may have more to do with the unforgiving nature of Supercell’s code, rather than the tablet (though another Supercell title Boom Beach suffers no such issue).
+ User expandable storage
+ Mostly stock Android experience
+ Long-lasting battery life
+ Very good display
+ Low Cost
Pricing and availability
This tablet is for sale on Lenovo’s website directly, or on Amazon.com. You’ll pay anywhere between $180 and $200 for the device with 16 or 32 GB of onboard storage. As always, when the price difference in that low, we recommend 32.
This is a cheap tablet; make no mistake about it. You will not turn any heads with this hardware. The tablet is a bit heavy and occasionally laggy, as one might expect from a 10-inch tablet in the sub-$200 range. There are big black bezels on every side and the screen is a fingerprint magnet. This is also consistent with what we’ve come to expect from this price range.
But the screen is responsive and clear. Video playback is really great. Graphics look very good on this tablet, but it’s not as bright as we’d like. We’d like to take this table outside every once in a while, after all. This tablet does everything a tablet should do which is really great, and it makes concessions where it absolutely can – build quality and camera. There is one connectivity question mark, which may be something, or it may be nothing.
There are certainly better tablets on the market. But better for this price range? That’s a great question. We don’t think so, not yet. So if you’re in the market for a new 10-inch tablet (don’t forget this thing is a 10-inch tablet, not 7-inch) for less than $200, you should give this one a look. Overall, you’ll find that this is one of the best tablets for it’s price range, which says a lot about the tablet and about the price range.