Lenovo IdeaPad K1 tablet: First impressions

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.

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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.

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Topics: Tablets, Hardware, Laptops, Lenovo, Mobility

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21 comments
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  • Honeycomb 3.2 promises improvement, but some say that 3.3 will actually not

    ... crash. The scheduling does not allow achieving stability much faster than that.

    However, since, for now, Android tablets are mostly for geeks, crashes is not issue. If people wanted to have something more mature and stable, they would buy iPad -- but they did not, they <b>wanted</b> these crashes -- since it is geeky and these tablets are "not like every other tablet" (meaning iPad): it is more interesting, newer.
    DDERSSS
    • RE: Lenovo IdeaPad K1 tablet: First impressions

      @DeRSSS
      Are you referring to app crash or OS crash?
      On both my ASUS and iPad2, app crash occurs more often than I like. ASUS the actual cause is not always easily determined, on the iPad2 it is most often lack of available RAM.
      OS crash for both is very very infrequent - maybe weekly or less? Infrequent enough I don't track it.
      Ether way it is more of an occasional "dammit" than any kind of show-stopper.
      :)
      rhonin
      • RE: Lenovo IdeaPad K1 tablet: First impressions

        @rhonin Star<a href="http://www.tran33m.com/vb/">t</a>ing to wonder why you need that much tablets. Planning on running a show and tell in your home/office plain
        alasiri
    • RE: Lenovo IdeaPad K1 tablet: First impressions

      @DeRSSS You are an idiot phanboy obviously, just because Steve Jobs said so you must bash the competition tablets. The iPad is a toy - Android based tablets are enterprise ready work machines, as my Xoom has proven. All the iPad guys wish they had my Xoom at the jobsites due to it's ability to do project management like I was using a desktop.....maybe they aren't unthinking phanboy sheep like you though.
      Nadaphanboi
      • RE: Lenovo IdeaPad K1 tablet: First impressions

        @Nadaphanboi You say your not a "phanboy" and accuse DeRSSS of being one yet go on in your post to prove without a doubt that you most definitely are one.
        non-biased
    • RE: Lenovo IdeaPad K1 tablet: First impressions

      @DeRSSS I've had my Galaxy Tab 10.1 for several months now, upgraded to Android 3.1, and I have not experienced the crashes you're referring to. Seriously. Browsing, Email, Reading Books, Playing Games all work great. My two biggest problems are readability in sunlight is poor and the Wifi reception is horrible. My iPhone gets Wifi signals much, much better than my Galaxy Tab 10.1.
      bminer1@...
    • Crashes may not be Honeycomb's fault.

      @DeRSSS
      Kendrick says: "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 "

      If that is Honeycomb's fault, then every tablet running Honeycomb should be frequently crashing, and they aren't. I have a Toshiba Thrive which is on almost 24/7 (usually plugged in), and it has NEVER crashed.

      It's not just that the Thrive is "newer" than the iPad, but that it actually CONNECTS to other devices -- with FULL-SIZED ports, no less.
      nfordtchrpub
  • RE: Lenovo IdeaPad K1 tablet: First impressions

    I'm known by others to be a person of extreme patience, but a tablet that crashes twice in two hours is not something even I would put up with for very long.

    1. Open box
    2. Struggle with newest slate offering for one week
    3. Return for refund

    Sadly, that's a 1-2-3 many consumers will be experiencing for a while to come.
    lgpOnTheMove
  • RE: Lenovo IdeaPad K1 tablet: First impressions

    I just got the Acer Iconia A500 running Honeycomb 3.1. It's all right, I think. I will need to compare it with an iPad.<br><br>But what is attractive about the K1 is what will happen next year with the release of Win 8. That should make it a very good tablet indeed and at many levels comparable to the then prevailing version of the iPad. The other big plus is that it is a ThinkPad - a brand with which I am very familiar and which has served me well over the past few years.

    About Android I am still unsure. Yeah it is different. But I feel that there should be two lines of Android - a more fast paced development line and a much slower developed and stable line with the essential features being made rock-solid before release to tablet and phone manufacturers. Maybe I am expecting too much!
    crystalsoldier
    • RE: Lenovo IdeaPad K1 tablet: First impressions

      @crystalsoldier
      That has me waiting also :)
      Lenovo generally turns out a good usable product design.
      rhonin
    • RE: Lenovo IdeaPad K1 tablet: First impressions

      @crystalsoldier I don't see Microsoft making Win8 for ARM available as a user-installable product. It will likely have to come preinstalled on new tablets.
      JamesKendrick
      • RE: Lenovo IdeaPad K1 tablet: First impressions

        @JamesKendrick You are most likely correct. But I was thinking of a ThinkPad tablet with Win 8 preinstalled. That would be excellent if it happened and I can't see any reason why it should not happen particularly in the cae of ThinkPads since I believe the ThinkPad machines are more enterprise-oriented.
        crystalsoldier
  • RE: Lenovo IdeaPad K1 tablet: First impressions

    I have owned my Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 since the day they introduced it (June 17, I think). It has never crashed. Am I lucky, or others just unlucky?
    ralphjb@...
    • RE: Lenovo IdeaPad K1 tablet: First impressions

      @ralphjb@... That's been my experience also.
      bminer1@...
  • Enough already with proprietary cables!

    I guess they firgure since Apple does, why not? We were finally getting away from this insanity with mobile phones. Tis stuff drives me nuts. This is why standards are developed.
    waynemaz
    • RE: Lenovo IdeaPad K1 tablet: First impressions

      @waynemaz
      it is possible for the ipad to adopt the Office 2010. im still waiting a tablet that will run ms office, that is why i have this reservation to buy ipad....
      ciabhest
  • RE: Lenovo IdeaPad K1 tablet: First impressions

    What a nightmare! Why would anyone go through all this? Set up a tablet device?? Are you serious? What's to set up? And the moment I read the word: "crash", I laughed my head off. Beta testers, beta testers come ye one and all to scatter your hard earned pennies on the field of stupid dreams.

    Arguably the Android community have had as long as Microsoft to get this one right. The proof here is that they are incapable of getting one device even close to right. Pathetic.

    What I really hate is that I let myself be drawn into this utopian dream in the early days and checked out every offering. 3 years later and there's not one device from these fools that's worth buying. And the OS debacle is worse than anyone surely thought possible.
    Graham Ellison
  • RE: Lenovo IdeaPad K1 tablet: First impressions

    Starting to wonder why you need that much tablets. Planning on running a show and tell in your home/office :|
    MrElectrifyer
  • if they can't use standard connectors, they can keep it! (nt)

    :(
    .
    wessonjoe
  • RE: Lenovo IdeaPad K1 tablet: First impressions

    it is possible for the ipad to adopt the Office 2010. im still waiting a tablet that will run ms office, that is why i have this reservation to buy ipad....
    ciabhest