The Lenovo IdeaPad S2 7 runs Android Honeycomb, the version of Google’s OS designed specifically for tablets. It’s likely that if this product makes it to the UK, it’ll run Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich - set to become the standard for all Android smartphones and tablets coming later in 2012 - at launch.
Lenovo has added its own interface to Honeycomb, though. Called Mandarin, it offers a host of rectangular widgets to fill your homescreens with. These update you on virtually all aspects of the phone, from missed calls to Facebook and Twitter updates.
The Mandarin UI lets you give your homescreens a checkerboard effect
The core specs – a 1.5GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM – suggest that the S2 7 should make Android Honeycomb really fly, but we did notice some minor lag in operation. It’s possible that these hiccups are minor software issues that will be fixed before the S2 7 is released, but it also may be a result of the custom user interface of the tablet. Either way, the incoming Ice Cream Sandwich could also bring the tablet up to the super-speed it deserves. Yes, there's no quad-core power, but it ccan be argued that a smaller tablet like this needs to keep an even closer eye on its price than a larger tab.
An IPS panel and 1,280 by 800 resolution is what we want in a 7in tablet
Having only had a short time with the device, we didn’t get to check out how its performance plays out when challenged more intensively – with 3D games, for example. Lenovo was keen to show us that the tablet can handle 1080p video playback, but it won’t support more video formats than the Android standards fresh out of the box, which are MP4, H.264 and WMV. A 1080p movie, most likely an H.264 or MP4 file, did play back flawlessly, though.
There are several Android apps that can fill this codec gap, and with a dual-core CPU to call upon, it should be able to handle just about any mid bit-rate 720p content you throw its way. We’ll check this out fully at review.
Lenovo said that the S2 7 costs the equivalent of around $350 at its release in China. This should hopefully secure it a sub-£300 price once it reaches our shores. Assuming it will, one day. And it it can roll up to market at a price not hugely inflated above the Amazon Kindle Fire's, it'll prove an alluring, more flexible, alternative.
While not desperately dynamic, the Lenovo IdeaPad S2 7 succeeds in ways all the previous 7in Android tablets we’ve reviewed have failed – a surprise given the proliferation of Android tablets of the last 18 months. It runs Honeycomb, is free of hardware gimmickery and has both the screen quality and the power of its larger-screened rivals. Keen pricing is still required to give the Ideapad S2 7 any chance of commercial success, but it’s one to keep an eye out for if 10.1in is simply too much for you to handle.