by Steven B. Combs, Ph.D. tags: lenovo - android - tablet - assistant - google - unbox - unboxing
I posted an “open-the-box” video for the Lenovo Smart Tab with Google Assistant. In the video, I mention a follow-up video review. Many folks called me out for not producing this video so I decided to provide my review as a blog post. You can check out the video in question below and afterward, read my review.
In the video below, I open the box on a Lenovo Yoga Tab with Google Assistant:
Before I share my thoughts about the Lenovo Yoga Smart Tab with Google Assistant (whew!), let’s find out what makes this thing tick and along the way, I’ll share why it is either good, or not so good.
By the way, if you need a case for this device, I found this $12 MoKo case works well and it comes in several colors. I chose boring black.
The design, while still reminiscent of a tablet, is unique due to the two small, but powerful speakers built into the tablet. We’ll talk more about the speakers later. But at first glance, this is a tablet with a book spine and a built in metal stand that you can use to hang the tablet!
Android 9, affectionately know as Pie, is the OS for this device. I’ve had enough Pie and there’s no way to upgrade to Android 10 or 11. This limits device features such as swipe gestures, dark mode integration, and updated share sheets. It’s not a deal breaker, but come-on, Lenovo. You kill the user’s tablet longevity. The device has the specs necessary to run these later versions of Android. Thankfully, Lenovo is concerned about security and updates are delivered on what appears to be a quarterly schedule; not monthly like we find with Pixel devices.
Let’s talk hardware. The Lenovo is powered by the now 3 year-old Qualcomm Snapdragon 439 64 bit, 2 Ghz, octo-core/thread processor. You would think with all that giga, octo, and thread count, this would be a monster processor; however, online descriptions tout this chip as a “lower mainstream system on a chip (SOC).” In other words, don’t expect amazing performance but “just enough.” The chip is fine for this device and most operations are smooth. App launching is tidy and multitasking is seamless. More on this as we talk about memory.
Graphics are the work of the built-in Adreno 505. Again, three years-old and not what you would call a pixel pusher. It’s fine for 2D display and minimal poly-count games, but try something like a modern shooter, and you will need to lower rendering requirements. I’m not a hardcore gamer, so this is fine. On occasion, I will watch video on the device (especially since it has this amazing sound system — again, more on that later) and this chip will spit out 1080p video at 30 fps without hesitation. Not fabulous, but it gets the job done.
Many low end tablets stick you with 2 Gb of onboard RAM. Thankfully, Lenovo stepped up and added an additional 2 Gb (for a total of 4 Gb) that helps the tablet perform admirably. I’ve never felt the tablet drag along.
Internal storage comes from a suitable, but not massive, 64 Gb eMMC Flash Drive. About 50 Gb is available to the user. Add more storage (but no offloading of apps) using the microSD card expansion under the built-in stand (see video above). 64 Gb is plenty for my use, but you might need more if you want to carry around a bunch of video with you or play a lot of games, but remember that games gotcha!
Battery life is good. My primary use for this tablet is reading and video. I can easily get 10+ hours out of the Li-Po battery.
Fast charging is not supported on the included USB-C port. A full charge takes several hours. Some say this is because the trickle charge is easier on the tablet’s battery when the device in ambient mode. That may be true, but it sure would be nice to have the option to fast-charge; however, it’s not been a showstopper for me.
Technically, the display is HD but it is a few pixels short at 1920 x 1200, versus 1920 x 1280; however, it’s a beautiful 10” IPS LCD screen with a 60 Hz refresh rate. HDR is not supported but colors are bright and blacks are dark. There has not been an environmental situation that has caused me any issues with the screen. I do admit, I don’t use the tablet outside often and when I am in the sun, I’m a vampire, so I use it in the shade.
Camera quality is good but not near the quality you expect on a modern phone. Taking a tablet out to take pictures, to me, is goofy and cumbersome. The front camera is “good enough” for a Zoom or Teams meeting.
Holy tricorder, Mr. Spock (how about that mashed up of two 70’s pop culture references?). This thing has 28 sensors that cover both internal and external environmental variables. Why it has a step sensor is beyond me. It’s not as if you are going to strap this thing on your back and go for a hike. My guess; it’s leftover remnants from the mobile processor which helps to explain why Android on tablets is such a mess. On the plus side, this thing includes any sensor necessary to make light gaming a pleasure.
The tablet includes both headphone and USB-C ports. The headphone port works as expected. The USB-C port provides all I/O features and charging; however, charging is trickle and not high speed. Someone explained to me that the rational for trickle was the tablet’s use of Ambient mode (when it acts like a Home Hub). In this mode, the tablet remains plugged in and trickle charge is easier on the battery and provides longer life. Good guess and I’ll go with that.
Okay, let’s sum it all up and talk about what I like about this tablet.
There’s a lot to like, but the tablet also has a few drawbacks.
The Lenovo is a 2019 product and age in 2020. I believe this will be my last Android tablet. I plan to use the device for the remainder of the year, but can see myself upgrading to another device, say a Chrome OS tablet like a second generation Lenovo Duet in 2021.
While I like Android as a phone OS, I just can’t get over the limitations of Android on a tablet and as Google continues to build in Android and Google Play features into Chrome OS, a device like the Duet just seems to make a lot more sense. Chrome OS devices receive regular updates; run Android apps, run Linux apps, can have a tablet formfactor, and can be used as a full fledge computer.
If you can find this tablet on sale for less than $200, grab it. If you understand the limitations I share, I think you will have a pleasurable experience.
There; I’ve lived up to my video promise by providing a full review. I hope readers and YouTube watchers find this review helpful.comments powered by Disqus