Lenovo has added a new member to its growing Android tablet lineup. The IdeaPad A1 will be squarely aimed at the budget-conscious market with a starting price of just $199, and though it may not be a cutting-edge device, it offers quite a bit of features for the price. You'll get a 7-inch capacitive multi-touch screen tablet with a Cortex A8 1GHz single-core processor, 8GB of storage, dual cameras (3MP back, VGA front), microUSB, and a microSD card slot for expansion.
Its display offers a higher than average resolution compared to other devices its size -- and even the iPad 2 -- at 1024-by-600 with a pixel density of 170ppi. In terms of connectivity, the A1 is limited to Wi-Fi, but there is a GPS chip in there that can be used without a data connection. Using the Navdroyd global map database, Lenovo's tablet behaves just like any other off-the-shelf GPS system by communicating directly with GPS satellites to determine position.
Perhaps the main letdown is that the tablet is pre-loaded with Android 2.3 Gingerbread, as opposed to the tablet-specific Honeycomb release, though that was probably necessary to keep things running smoothly on ARM's last-generation chip. Nevertheless the A1 is fully equipped with all of Google's Android services, and Lenovo will be including the Lenovo App Shop on the device in addition to providing access to the official Android Market.
The tablet's overall thickness comes in just under half an inch and its exterior casing color options include black, white, blue and pink. In addition to the base 8GB version, 16GB and 32GB models should be available for $249 and $299 when the IdeaPad A1 arrives later this month. Unfortunately, according to Engadget, only the latter two will make it to the U.S.
The recent $99 sale of the discontinued HP TouchPad showed that a lot of folks would buy a tablet if the price were cheap enough -- though I believe webOS played a bigger part in sparking up interest than the hardware itself. It will be interesting to see how well the A1 performs at this price point. Granted, Lenovo is not the first company to hit the $200 - $250 mark, but the A1 does offer better features than most budget-priced Android tablets.
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