MWC 2015: Lenovo tablet roundup

Lenovo is a manufacturer under a lot of scrutiny right now. While the Superfish debacle may be fresh on your mind, the company is much more than that onetime mistake. The company's hardware is legendary; well built and respected by both home users and the enterprise alike. The company has since apologized and vowed to stop loading bloatware on machines. In other words, while Superfish was bad, the fallout is benefiting consumers, as the new PC experience will be improved. Kudos to the company for learning from its mistakes and actually improving as a result.

Moving beyond mistakes, Lenovo is at Mobile World Conference 2015, where it is announcing new products. Today, the company announces three new tablets; one is running Windows 8.1, while the other two are running Android. Which OS do you prefer on a tablet?

"As a leader in building devices for the uniquely personal ways people use technology today, Lenovo has created three new consumer tablet choices: a pair of A Series Android tablets, the Lenovo TAB 2 A8 and A10-70, and a Windows tablet, the ideapad MIIX 300. Debuting at Mobile World Congress 2015, these different devices help meet consumers' desire for entertainment and portability at prices set for universal appeal", says Lenovo.

The manufacturer further explains, "the all-new A Series proves affordable tablets can go big for entertainment capabilities with their high speed LTE connectivity and Dolby Atmos technology. These tablets not only keep people connected virtually anywhere, but they also make movies, TV shows and music more enjoyable with astonishing clarity, richness, power and depth over their built-in speakers. Meanwhile, the 8-in ideapad MIIX 300 offers Windows users pocket-sized productivity".

TAB 2 A10-70

TAB 2 A10_2

The Tab 2 A10-70 offers a roomy 10.1 inch display, with 1080p resolution. It is rather thin at 8.9mm, and will be available in either blue or white. I am usually a sucker for white tablets and smartphones, but I really like the shade of blue

Android fans may be dismayed to know that it will ship with Android 4.4 KitKat and not the newer Lollipop. This is ponderous for a tablet shipping in April of 2015.

The device is powered by a 64-bit Quad-core MediaTek processor, which has historically offered average performance. Unfortunately, a 64-bit chip is of no benefit on the 32-bit only KitKat. Hopefully a 64-bit Lollipop upgrade is scheduled for the future.

Strangely, RAM is not disclosed, so I would guess it is only 1GB -- a larger number would likely be shared by the company

The Tab 2 A10-70 will also feature an 8-megapixel rear-shooter and Dolby Atmos sound. Lenovo makes it a point to mention the multi-speaker soundbar, and that is appreciated. Unfortunately, the speakers are rear-facing, so sound is pointed away from the listener.

If an older OS and fairly average hardware doesn't worry you, the price is actually very good. It is only $199 (£125) for Wi-Fi and $279 (£181) for LTE.

TAB 2 A8

TAB 2 A8_2

The TAB 2 A8 takes things smaller with an 8 inch screen, this time apparently at 720p. Lenovo again touts the MediaTek 64-bit Quad Core processor, but this time the tablet can actually make full use of it, as it will run Lollipop 5.0. Believe it or not, this will be Lenovo's first tablet running the new OS. With that said, I can't understand why the A10 is not shipping with Lollipop too, but C'est la vie!

What makes this tablet very interesting, is that the LTE model is apparently a large phone. It features dual sim card slots; one for voice and the other for data.

The TAB 2 A8 features a 5-megapixel rear-shooter, but like its 10 inch brother, the front-facing specs are not disclosed. Luckily, a micro SD card slot is included, so if you do take photos and videos, you can expand the storage as needed.

I am excited to see front-facing speakers on the A8; a wise decision to say the least. This should hopefully create an above-average listening experience.

This tablet will also come in blue and white, and pricing is extremely competitive. The Wi-Fi model is a paltry $129 (£84), while the dual-sim LTE model is a steal at $179 (£116). Unfortunately, this will not ship until June; an eternity in the tech world.

ideapad MIIX 300

Lenovo Miix 300

But enough about Android, you love small Windows tablets, right? No? Oh. True, small Windows tablets have not been popular, mostly due to a lack of "Modern UI" apps, there are many legacy Windows programs available. Unfortunately, those are usually not optimized for touch or such a tiny screen. Who should buy such a tablet? Only those with an absolute need for legacy Windows programs in an extremely portable package should take notice.

The ideapad MIIX 300 features an 8 inch screen with a 1920x1200 resolution -- not bad. Unlike the aforementioned Android tablets which run fairly average ARM chips, this tablet runs an x86 Intel Atom processor. Sadly, which model is not disclosed.

As far as storage, it can get be equipped with up to 64GB, but you can expand that with a micro SD card. This can be good for loading movies for a long trip. If nothing else, a small-screen Windows tablet is a superb multimedia machine.

The saving grace for such a boring tablet is the price. At $149 (£97) you get the ideapad MIIX 300 and a one year subscription to Office 365. That subscription costs around $69.99 (£46), so if you look at it that way, the tablet itself only costs about $80 (£52) -- if you needed Office 365, that is.

Conclusion

Of these three tablets, the one I am most excited for is the blue dual-sim LTE TAB 2 A8 at $179 (£116). I just wish it was launching today and not in June!

Which one do you prefer? Tell me in the comments.