If someone can make a $100 tablet that is awesome, it will sell like hotcakes sprinkled with fairy dust and deep-fried in freedom. But this is not that tablet. The IdeaTab A1000 is Lenovo's bargain-basement 7-inch Android offering, and its cheapness is glaring from the moment you pick it up. The A1000 starts at $129 and can be found on Amazon for just $105, but anyone considering it would be well-served to pick up a Kindle Fire HD for $159 or, even better, a Google Nexus 7 for $229. Though these models cost a little more, the user experience they provide is so much better that you'll spend more time with your tablet, and be happier doing it.
Look on my screen, ye mighty, and despair
As soon as you pick up the A1000 and press its wake button, you'll see that its weakness is its screen. With a resolution of 1024 by 600, its display has fewer pixels than the iPhone 5's does--on a 7-inch screen. The LCD panel seems pretty far away from the touch panel, too, leaving a visible gap between them. As a result, you feel as though you're touching not the touchscreen, but a piece of glass over the touchscreen. The range of acceptable viewing angles is beyond poor, and the glare is awful. Still, with the brightness cranked all the way up, reading in sunlight is possible, though a bit uncomfortable.
A good tablet needs a good screen, since the screen is pretty much the only thing you interact with. If the screen is truly great, the rest of the tablet seems to fall away and you get the feeling that you're holding the content itself right in your hands. That pleasant sensation never happened to me with the A1000.
The rest of the hardware feels similarly cheaply made. The A1000 is thicker and bulkier than the Nexus 7, and it has a bigger bezel, though no 7-inch tablet qualifies as truly "clunky." The little plastic flap over the MicroSD slot on the tablet's right side sometimes resists going back down nice and flush after you've pulled it up, which makes it feel flimsy. An identical flap on the opposite side covers a little hole where the SIM slot (supporting phone calls) would be if you had bought the tablet in India. But in North America, it's just an empty hole that you'll uncover time and time again thinking it's the MicroSD slot! Fun!
One of these flimsy flaps covers the MicroSD slot. The other one covers a hole that serves no purpose. Have a good time!
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