Lenovo IdeaTab S6000 Review

The Look & Feel

When you first pick up the Lenovo S6000, a few points are immediately apparent. It feels small and looks really simple. It boasts a small set of dimensions at 260x180x8.6mm and weighs in at about 560g. These numbers don't tell the full story however.

It's common, in today's consumer electronics, to find a device that's either rugged or one that's petite. Lenovo seem to have found the balance between the two. The device feels small and easy to operate. It almost makes you feel comfortable enough to throw it at someone across a room. You'll do this, however, not to fatally injure the other person, but rather because you're too lazy to get up and walk and also because you feel as if you won't be risking anyone's life or the state of your tablet in the process.

Minimal buttons, a Lenovo logo or two and a textured back plate serve to further reinforce this elegant appearance. Put this tablet in an equally minimalistic leather pouch and throw it in a bag without worrying that it might snap or that your screen might pick up deep gouges if you don't permanently glue a thick plastic screen protector over it. The robust feeling does affect the 10.1 inch multi-touch IPS LCD screen, especially when using an appropriate stylus. While some people prefer to glide effortlessly over a touch screen, I for one am willing to put in a slight bit of work. It really doesn't get in the way of your tablet's performance.

Performance and Features

This first thing to note when powering on the device (which really doesn't take long at all), is the quality of the display. Most people today are appalled if they can't get at least 1080p full HD, but trust me, 1280x800 is more than enough. On a 10.1 inch display with these vibrant colors, you really cannot ask for more. The smoothness of the video performance is also highly satisfying.

When using the micro HDMI output to, say, a 32 inch HD TV however, I'm a bit disappointed. First off, you're only able to duplicate displays which has the major drawback of having to leave your tablet's display on whenever you're watching anything on your external display. When it comes to resolution and video quality, there are also a few snags. The odd WXGA aspect ratio means that most of our HDTVs (with 4:3 or 16:9 ratios) result in trimmed edges or distorted dimensions. This isn't true in all cases as I stated in my review of the LG-PB60G LED projector and I'm also sure many newer HDTV models can cope with the 16:10 aspect ratio. However, the video output still isn't brilliant on these external displays. It's like facing an eternal lag which is too slight for some to notice but could drive others insane.

Looking at the specs the S6000 boasts a 1.2Ghz Quad Core processor with 1Gb of RAM. This is all very pretty on paper but does it get the job done? It most certainly does. The tablet does an excellent job of multitasking and running some pretty resource intensive apps with ease. This, in my opinion, is down to the wonderful animal known as Android. The simple operating system has it's flaws but with time, those will be solved. In some cases, you feel the tablet playing a slight catchup game with your apps and expectations but from a tablet meant for use in a corporate environment, the performance is far from a disappointment.

With the tablet you also have built-in WiFi and 3G radios (SIM slot on the side), 16Gb internal storage and an easily accessibly Micro SD Card slot. The USB connector can instantly turn your tablet into a massive flash drive with high transfer rates and no need for any additional Software. You also get a 5MP camera and a cute novelty 0.3MP Front Facing VGA camera for those awkward pixelated Skype conversations you might want to have. the 3.5mm audio jack also lets you easily connect some earphones or even output your audio to a larger system. In most situations, however, the built in speakers are clear enough, loud enough and well positioned for optimal audio. Even with all these built-in goodies, the standard battery can easily last through 3 or 4 days of average use (which is more than we can say for the cellular devices of our age)

Side by Side screenshots
Side by Side screenshots

Price and Competitors

In South Africa (at the time of writing), one of these tablets will set you back about R3200 from the right supplier. That price really makes it attainable for a much larger consumer base than we're used to seeing from tablets.

The closest competitor to the S6000 is probably the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 (10.1 inch). The two devices are similar in countless aspects, however the Galaxy Tab is smaller, lighter and has a better 1.3MP front facing camera. This might be because the Samsung was released in the third quarter of 2013 where the Lenovo launched in the first quarter of that same year. Despite that, the Lenovo still has a 5MP camera where the Samsung has a 3MP camera. Also, probably most important of all, the Samsung has a Dual Core 1.4GHz processor competing against a Quad Core 1.2GHz processor running the exact same operating system. This little processor battle makes a noticeable performance difference. Did I mention that the going price for a Galaxy Tab 3 in SA is around R6000? Case Closed.

The other obvious competitor would probably be the bottom of the range iPad 4 which was released in the quarter before the Lenovo was introduced and yet still prices at about double the amount. Comparing iPads to IdeaTabs then, is not exactly comparing apples with apples (no pun intended), but I'm sure the Lenovo Windows 8 tablet could give the Apple equivalents a run for their money.

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The Conclusion

What did we expect from a company that primarily produces Laptops and has now decided to try their hand at tablets? Well, it could've gone either of two ways; They could've taken the exact specs from one of their industry leading notebooks and shoved it into a hideous and over priced device that no one would look at twice or they could've brought out the S6000.

The success here, in my opinion, is the Android operating system. No, it's not better than iOS or Windows but, all things relative, it's blisteringly quick when you keep things simple. When you keep things simple, you also keep them cheap and that, ironically, is priceless when it comes to consumer electronics. Also looking at the factory installed applications, the user friendliness, the compatibility between platforms and the low average cost of fantastic little apps in the Google Play Store, I'm willing to say the Lenovo S6000 is the best tablet out there for someone that doesn't have the money to waste on the ludicrous and often unnecessary specs that so many tech companies try to force on us.

4 stars for Lenovo IdeaTab S6000

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