Lenovo IdeaPad K1 tablet: First impressions

Summary:Lenovo's first Android tablet, the IdeaPad K1, is a 10-inch tablet running Android 3.1 along with some customizations designed to help it stand out from the growing Honeycomb crowd.

The FedEx guy dropped off Lenovo's first Android Honeycomb tablet this morning, the IdeaPad K1. The K1 is a 10-inch tablet running Android 3.1, not the latest version, along with some Lenovo customizations designed to help it stand out from the growing Honeycomb crowd. I've only had time to get it set up and play with it for a bit so I can only share first impressions of the K1.


Image Gallery: Lenovo IdeaPad K1 Tablet running Honeycomb. See it compared to the HP TouchPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
Image Gallery: Charge
Image Gallery: Charge
Hardware

The K1 is packing an Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core processor like a number of Honeycomb tablets on the market. The hardware is typical for Lenovo, solid and designed for comfortable usage. This includes tapered edges around the tablet, and a back covered with textured material that prevents the K1 from slipping in the hand. It has the standard (for Android  tablets) two cameras, and Lenovo has put a physical home button on the front of the device. Unlike other devices this front button does not wake the K1 up when sleeping, an inconvenience that Lenovo would be wise to address in a software update.

Specs:

  • Nvidia Tegra 2 1 GHz dual core processor
  • Android 3.1
  • 10.1-inch display (1280×800)
  • 1GB  memory
  • 32GB storage
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth (3G option)
  • MicroSD slot
  • Front (2MP) and rear (5MP) cameras
  • 1.65 lb.; 10.39 x 0.52 x 7.44 inches

The front of the K1 finds the front camera above the display for video chatting, with the Home button on the right with the tablet in standard landscape orientation. The display has a glossy cover and a black bezel of almost an inch all the way around the screen.

The left side of the K1 has a lot of controls: power, volume up/down, and screen rotation lock. The microSD slot is also on this side, and requires a paperclip-like tool (included) to pop open a door to access the memory card. There is nothing on either the top or right side of the K1.

The bottom of the tablet is where all the connectors are located: HDMI, headphone jack, and the proprietary dock connector which accepts the power plug. Lenovo has chosen to go the Samsung route and require special cables for power and USB connection to computers.

The back of the K1 has a 5MP camera with flash, and a beveled edge on the bottom to make it easier to handle. This edge is beneath the textured back covering, and houses the stereo speakers.

Software

The K1 is running Android Honeycomb 3.1, even though 3.2 is now available. Lenovo has customized the look of Honeycomb with special icons, and a couple of launchers that live on the main home screen. One launcher has four big buttons that can be customized to run frequently used apps, and the other pops out of the right side of the screen as a rotary wheel for easy access to apps. Both launchers are fairly useful additions to the Honeycomb UI.

The K1 ships with Netflix due to a deal that Lenovo signed, and has approximately 40 other apps preinstalled. Some of these apps are just trialware, but the rest are full versions. The most significant is QuickOffice, which allows both viewing and editing Microsoft Office documents. There are an assortment of games rounding out the included apps.

Lenovo has also included its own App Store, similar to the Amazon Appstore in that it offers apps apart from the Android Market. The official Market is also preinstalled for those who prefer dealing with that store.

Brief experience

The Lenovo K1 is about the same size and weight as my HP TouchPad, and I find it comfortable to hold. All Android apps I have tried so far work fine as expected. I have not been impressed with Honeycomb on the K1, which is my experience on every tablet I have tried. The user experience is OK, but the tablet has crashed twice in two hours with the device. One of those crashes happened while the K1 was sitting on the table with the screen off, something that happens often on the Galaxy Tab 10.1. I can only surmise that Honeycomb 3.1 is just not very good.

I like the IdeaPad K1 from the hardware perspective, I find it well designed and constructed. I haven't run across a single thing about the hardware I don't like. Too bad it doesn't run Honeycomb 3.2 which is supposedly more stable than 3.1; I hope Lenovo addresses the instability with Honeycomb quickly.

Related:

Topics: Tablets, Hardware, Laptops, Lenovo, Mobility

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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