Lenovo isn't the first to recognize the need for a full keyboard at times when using a tablet; given how frustrating it can be to type out an email or even browse the internet with an on-screen keyboard, how could it be? But its latest dockable Android tablet, the IdeaTab S2110, might just be one of the best on the market right now.
Complete with solid specs like a 1.5 GHz, dual-core processor and a 1280 x 800 resolution on its 10.1-inch screen, the S2110 backs up the convenience of a full keyboard dock with impressive performance that's sure to satisfy the needs of just about any kind of tablet user.
Build and Design
When I first handled the S2110 back at CES in January, I expressed concerned about its build quality, as the entire unit, both the tablet itself and the dock, would bend and creak whenever I handled it. The tablet itself was especially flimsy, to the point that when I was merely holding it in my hands, I could feel the backing bending inwards from the light pressure of my fingers. The rep I spoke to explained that it was just a matter of it being an early "prototype" unit and that the final product would be much sturdier.
This is not entirely the case. It's definitely much better quality than the original model that I handled; for instance, the back of the device doesn't feel as thin and flexible. But I can still feel it bend in places if I grip it hard enough (like when I want to pull the tablet out of the dock) and it will still creak at times. It doesn't help that the body of the tablet, backing included, is made of rather low-quality plastic, giving the it a cheap feeling. For what it's worth, I can at least appreciate the fact that the back surface is textured.
The build of the dock is much more improved than the tablet itself, with nice touches like grippy feet on the bottom of the unit to help it stay put on slick surfaces, a roomy trackpad with two quality-feeling mouse buttons below it, and, of course, an exceptionally sturdy hinge where the tablet is docked. The tablet fits perfectly into the area where it's meant to jack in, and it's easy to do as you simply push it down into the "mouth" of the hinge until it clicks in. The tight fit ensures that there isn't any wiggle room and makes the entire unit feel like one piece, and removing the tablet is a snap. All you have to do is hold down the button located right below the hinge and pull up on the tablet.
And thankfully, the dock isn't terribly heavy or bulky. Even with the tablet docked, the entire device (folded closed, obviously) is still less than three-quarters of an inch thick, roughly 0.73 inches, and weighs in at 2.6 pounds. Both the thickness and weight of the docked S2110 is comparable to that of your average netbook, perhaps even slightly less in some cases. To put it into perspective, I looked up one of Lenovo's 10.1-inch netbooks and it was 1.8 inches thick and weighed 4.4 pounds. Considering what the dock brings to the table -- including a full keyboard, a trackpad, extended battery life, a litany of ports -- it's worth the slight increase in size and weight.
The only issue with the dock's build is that there's a little bit of give towards the middle of the keyboard. It's not a dealbreaker or anything and it is certainly a common problem among laptops and netbooks, so it's not as if this is unprecedented. It's just indicative of the generally mediocre build quality of the S2110.
The high point of the display on the S2110 is its viewing angle, which Lenovo claims is 178 degrees, which is a little more specific than what I would have said: "It's really good." It can handle glare respectably, but only on its highest brightness setting. Keeping it on auto will do your battery life some good, but it's generally a little too dim for my tastes.
The sharpness of its 1280 x 800 resolution is great, which is a welcome change after handling the surprisingly pixelated display of the A2109, Lenovo's 9-inch Android tablet offering. I also appreciated the sensitivity of the S2110's display, as other tablets that I've handled recently (I'm looking at you, Fujitsu Stylistic M532) have had issues with certain commands or gestures registering properly, so I was glad to see everything worked well here.
Other Buttons and Ports
Thanks to the inclusion of the dock, there's no shortage of buttons and ports on the S2110. On the tablet itself, things are kept pretty simple: the top edge houses the power/standby button, the volume rocker is on the right, a micro USB port is on the bottom (for charging and also how the tablet connects to the dock), and the headphone jack, SIM card slot, and micro HDMI port are on the left side.
The front-facing webcam is centered on the top edge of the bezel, while the rear-facing camera is on the upper right-hand corner of the back of the tablet. Finally, the tablet's speakers are slits on the upper part of the right and left edges of the device, and I personally found this placement more effective than having rear-firing speakers.
As for the dock, I found the keyboard to be very well equipped, featuring handy shortcut keys in addition to the usual QWERTY rows. Some of these included keys for media controls, volume, turning Bluetooth or Wi-Fi on and off, search, back, and home, among others. Then, of course, there are the extra ports on the dock, including two full-sized USB ports and a micro-USB port on the left side, and a full-sized SD card slot on the front edge. Finally, there are two indicator lights towards the front of the dock for caps lock and to show when the device is charging.
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