The 1.5 GHz, dual-core processor of the S2110 took the cake, in terms of hard numbers, with its performance, despite facing competition from tablets with quad-core processors. Sitting pretty at the top of our Quadrant charts, the S2110’s benchmark numbers reflected the tablet’s consistently smooth performance, even when performing intensive tasks (like running the graphically-intense, preloaded game, Vendetta Online).
As I mentioned in my review of the A2109, however, I suspect that Lenovo’s clunky UI was the cause for occasional bouts of slowdown. Facets like the unnecessary “cube” layout and animation of the homescreens were likely contributing factors to the intermittent hiccups, though it was never anything serious; sometimes I would have trouble opening or closing apps, for instance.
Internet browsing was comfortable on the S2110, though the interface didn’t always adjust itself perfectly to account for the use of a mouse and/or trackpad, but more on that later. As the Sunspider benchmark numbers indicate, the S2110 did a more than admirable job with internet browsing, even with the stock browser (instead of Chrome).
Quadrant measures CPU, 3D, and memory performance. Higher numbers are better.
The dock itself is a welcome addition for those who are looking to either be productive on their tablet or simply cannot stand performing basic tasks on a tablet like web browsing without a keyboard and/or touchpad. The addition of two full-sized USB ports is a plus too, especially if you’re looking to plug in peripherals like a mouse or a USB key.
As a general statement, I loved using the keyboard and its inclusion isn’t just great for word processing, but also for creating the optimal tablet experience. Tapping or dragging on the screen for quick bouts of navigation and reverting to the keyboard when I wanted to type something into Google, for example, was exceedingly efficient, and this hybrid setup allowed me to complete tasks that would have otherwise taken much longer on just a tablet.
The dock isn’t without its flaws, however. The dubious build quality that I previously mentioned seems to have a bit of an effect on key presses, as my typing didn’t always register properly. It wasn’t completely broken; I could easily punch in a quick sentence or search phrase without any issues, but I experienced more than my fair share of typos whenever I was doing extensive word processing.
And the one other issue with the dock is something that I think was just an oversight on Lenovo’s part: there’s no way to scroll when using it. The scroll bar on the right side of the window obviously is not built into Android apps, as there’s no need for it with touch controls. So even though docking the tablet creates a slightly tweaked UI that incorporates a cursor, scroll bars are still missing.
There are no alternative methods for scrolling either, like running your finger down the right side of the trackpad, or even hitting the up and down arrow keys. If you want to scroll down, the best you can do is use the arrow keys to, one by one and in order from top to bottom, highlight the links on a webpage (or move the cursor in a Word document) until it gets far enough down that the page has to scroll to highlight the next one. It’s clumsy and an unfortunate, given that the dock makes navigation and input on the S2110 more efficient in just about every other way.
I was disappointed to see that the S2110 features Lenovo’s custom UI on top of the system’s Android 4.0 OS (ICS), a skin that I expressed displeasure over when I first encountered it during my time with the A2109. This is a different Android skin from the comparably unobtrusive Mondrian UI that I first saw on the S2110 back at CES, one that inexplicably complicates things with an “edit mode” that you must enter an exit to move app icons (instead of being able to just drag and drop them) and animates the interface to make each home page appear as if it’s on the side of a cube. Perhaps my least favorite part of the Lenovo UI, however, is its inclusion of folders, the design of which is so unintuitive that app shortcuts cannot be moved out of them and placed on a different homescreen or folder; they can only be deleted.
And a lot of the preloaded apps are bloatware, further disappointing on the software front. Some of the more useless software includes AccuWeather, AnyRadio, Extent Game Console, GO IME, the Lenovo App Shop, NavvDrod, Rara (only useful if you have a subscription, and there are better streaming music services out there), Papaya Mobile, Viewster, a mediocre equalizer app for the system’s SRS TruMedia audio, and Zinio.
The selection of productivity apps isn’t too bad, though, with useful apps like Evernote, Sugarsync, a free month of Norton Security, Docs to Go, a file explorer (this is more of a personal preference), and a PrinterShare app. Lenovo was also kind enough to include video chatting software to be used with the tablet’s front-facing camera, giving you the option to choose from either Skype or ooVoo.
There’s also a respectable selection of entertainment software to mess around with — if you’re into that sort of stuff — like the GameTanium service, a suite of Silver Creek Games, Shazam, and the surprisingly complex, aforementioned game, Vendetta Online.
While the front-facing camera of the S2110 is serviceable for video chatting (they almost always are, since people neither expect nor need much from their tablets’ webcams) the rear-facing camera is probably best forgotten about all together. Sure, most people don’t usually have high expectations for the rear-facing cameras on tablets either, but this one is particularly weak.
Pictures are not only blurry, but they’re also filled with noise even when shooting in well-lit areas. The auto-exposure is a bit wonky too, since most of my pictures ended up looking a little washed out. Colors look particularly weak and don’t pop much at all due to under-saturation. Not that you would be buying this tablet for its camera, but don’t expect much out of the 5-megapixel rear shooter on the S2110.
The battery life of the S2110 is good on its own, but when combined with the keyboard dock, it’s absolutely exceptional. I took the whole unit with me on a trip to the west coast, and it lasted me 12 hours, almost the entire round trip flight. The way the S2110 handles power management is that the battery drains from the keyboard first, keeping the battery of the tablet at 100% for as long as it can, so you’re free to pop it out any time you need and take it on the go with a full charge. Once the battery in the dock is finished, however, the keyboard is still usable even when you’re on tablet power.
While I didn’t have Wi-Fi turned on and brightness was turned to auto, I was using the tablet the entire time, performing various tasks ranging from word processing to slightly more hardware-intensive processes like playing games. At one point, I even plugged my friend’s phone into the USB port of the dock to charge it for about an hour, draining it at even faster rate. Yet the battery still lasted just shy of the duration of both flights.