Lenovo TAB 2 A8-50 Review

by Reads (161,276)
  • Editor's Rating

    Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

      • Software & Support
      • 9
      • Upgrade Capabilities
      • 7
      • Usability
      • 8
      • Design
      • 8
      • Performance
      • 8
      • Features
      • 8
      • Price/Value Rating
      • 10
      • Total Score:
      • 8.29
      • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10
  • Pros

    • Good quality display
    • Unmodified version of Android 5.0
    • Front-facing speakers
  • Cons

    • microSD cards max out at 32 GB
    • Oddly placed Power button

Quick Take

This 8-inch Android tablet costs the same as many 7-inch models so it’s an good value, especially as it has speedy performance and an attractive display.

The most popular Android tablets have 7-inch screens because these are the cheapest. Lenovo is hoping to turn that on its head with an 8-inch model that sells for a price typical of 7-inch ones: just $129.

Considering its affordable cost, the Lenovo Tab 2 A8-50 is a surprisingly robust device, with a 1280 x 800 screen, front-facing speakers, a quad-core processor, and Android 5.0 Lollipop.

Build & Design

This device has an all-plastic casing, a feature that makes it look like an average tablet. Still, the bezels on the sides of the display are relatively thin, and the front-facing speakers are a welcome design element. And Lenovo offers this second-generation A8 in a range of colors: Pearl White, Ebony, Midnight Blue, and Neon Pink.

Overall, this model is 8.3 x 4.9 x 0.35 in. (210 x 125 x 8.9 mm) and 0.8 lbs. (360g), so it isn’t particularly thin, and it’s weight is about average for a mid-size tablet. It feels mostly solid, with just a small amount of flex when twisted.

Lenovo TAB 2 A8-50

Lenovo TAB 2 A8-50

Thanks to the thin screen bezels, the A8-50 can easily be held with one hand, freeing the other to control the device.

Display

This Lenovo tablet has an average screen for an 8-inch device, with a 1280 x 800 resolution and a 189 ppi pixel density. What sets it apart from the pack is that this display is in a model that costs so little. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 8.0 has a screen that’s the same size and resolution and it sells for $179, about $50 more.

The Tab 2 A8-50’s display is large enough that text can be easily read and video is worth watching, which sometimes isn’t the case with 7-inch tablets. And while its pixel density can’t match high-end models, on-screen elements don’t look obviously pixilated.

Buttons and Ports

Lenovo followed Google’s guidelines for device design so it has minimal physical buttons, with Android’s Back, Home, and Open Apps buttons appearing on screen.

It’s not unusual for the Power button is located on the right side of a tablet, as it is on this one, but the second-generation A8 might be the only tablet that puts it below the Volume Up and Down buttons, rather than above them. The reason for this isn’t clear at all, as its placement makes it easy to accidentally turn the device on or off when it’s picked up.

Lenovo TAB 2 A8 -- Front, Back, and Sides

Lenovo TAB 2 A8 — Front, Back, and Sides

The microSD card slot is under a protective cover on the left side. A SIM card slot is in there as well, even on models without cellular-wireless connectivity.

The micro-USB charging and data port is on the top of the A8. This allows users to plug the device into a cable stretching down from the top of a desk or table, rather than needing it to come up from the bottom.

Speakers

Lenovo describes this model as a “Mobile Multimedia Companion”, which is why it put some emphasis on the speakers. Unlike most tablets, these are located on the front, rather than on an edge, so the sound is clear and not muffled. The speakers are on the opposite sides of the tablet so they have just enough separation that stereo effects work.

That last part is important, because the Tab 2 A8-50 has Dolby ATMOS 3D Cinema Sound Technology, which is capable of tricking the ear into thinking that sounds are emanating from different directions. This requires the video being watched to include the 3D Cinema Sound, and it works even better with a pair of headphones.

Performance

The Lenovo Tab 2 A8-50 has a 1.3GHz, quad-core, 64-bit MediaTek processor and just 1 GB of RAM. In real-world use, this combination gives it good, but not outstanding, performance. It is capable of handling day-to-day tasks without noticeable slow-downs.

This model scored a 1720 In the benchmarking tool Geekbench 3. For comparison, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 8.0 uses a 1.2GHz quad-core 32-bit Marvell PXA1088 processor and pulled in a 1030 on this same test. This despite the Samsung model costing $50 more. This chip even outperformed the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7, which pulled in a 1450 score and sells for $150 more.

That said, high-end models like the HTC Nexus 9 score about 3000 on this test, so the 2015 version of the A8 isn’t up to running extremely demanding software.

Most versions of this tablet come with 16 GB of built-in storage, but Lenovo says the one in a black casing will have just 8 GB. At the time of this writing, we were unable to find this version up for sale. It may only be available in developing countries.

Lenovo TAB 2 A8

Lenovo TAB 2 A8

The A8-50’s microSD memory card slot supports 32 GB cards but not higher-capacity ones. This is bad news for those who want to carry around several movies.

Software

This is Lenovo’s first tablet to debut running Google Android 5.0 Lollipop, which was introduced late last year. Even better, this is a “stock” version of the operating system, without the proprietary tweaks that appear in rival models from Samsung and others. This will make it considerably easier for Lenovo to release system software updates, plus those upgrading from earlier Android devices won’t have much of a learning curve.

In addition to the standard suite of useful apps that come with this operating system, Lenovo added some of its own software. Rather than the typical bloatware, these are actually useful. One is an app to control the Dolby audio system. Another is SYNCit, which enables the user to make a backup copy of all the contacts on the device to a cloud service, or to a microSD card. It can also backup all the files on the tablet to a removable memory card. SHAREit allows users to wirelessly transfer files, images, contacts, etc. directly to another tablet or phone that’s also running this app. There’s also an iOS version of this software, making it an easy way to share photos with an iPhone or iPad, as long as all the devices are on the same WiFi network.

There’s also an FM radio built into the new A8. This requires a pair of headphones to function as the antenna to pick up the radio broadcasts.

The closest to bloatware the device gets is a trial version of McAfee Mobile Security.

Wireless

In addition to a WiFi-only versions that are available now around the world, there is also one with dual SIM slots and support for GSM voice calls, plus 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE – the latter is likely to be available only in Asia where there are many who prefer to use a small tablet as their phone, rather than buy separate devices. Be aware, the TAB 2 A8 LTE comes with just 8GB of built-in storage.

Camera

Lenovo TAB 2 A8 - Back

Lenovo TAB 2 A8 – Back

The TAB 2 A8-50 has both a 2MP front-facing camera and a 5MP rear-facing one. The camera on the back is a fairly token offering reflecting the fact that tablets aren’t often used for taking pictures, so it’s capable of taking decent pictures under ideal conditions.

The picture-taking app isn’t the standard Google one, but it’s quite usable, with a few bells and whistles. Our favorite is Face Beauty Mode, which smooths out wrinkles and makes the person being photographed look years younger, if slightly odd.

The camera on the front is easily up to video chatting, a task that is common for this type of device.

Battery

Lenovo says the 4200mAh battery in this model is able to power it for up to 8 hours on a single charge. Our tests generally backed this up, with the the 2015 version of the A8 regularly surviving a full day of moderate use without needing a recharge.

Conclusion

The Lenovo Tab 2 A8-50 combines a quality 8-inch display with solid but not outstanding performance. Its battery life is decent, and the use of an unmodified version of Android 5.0 Lollipop is welcome.

The device only supports 32GB microSD cards, and its power button is oddly placed, but these aren’t very serious drawbacks.

Value

Every tablet maker needs a low-cost offering to catch the eye of budget shoppers, and at $129 the Tab 2 A8 is Lenovo’s. However, typically tablets this affordable have 7-inch displays, so the A8 has a definite advantage over similarly-priced rivals. When comparing features, perhaps its closest competitor is the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 8.0, which sells for $179.

Plus, it has some other features that are just a bit better than its pricetag would indicate, like a 64-bit quad-core processor.

Lenovo TAB 2 A8-50

Lenovo TAB 2 A8-50

Pros:

  • Good quality display
  • Unmodified version of Android 5.0
  • Front-facing speakers

Cons:

  • microSD cards max out at 32 GB
  • Oddly placed Power button

Bottom Line:

This 8-inch Android tablet costs the same as many 7-inch models so it’s an good value, especially as it has speedy performance and an attractive display.



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