January 9, 2012 | by Andrew Kameka
Lenovo hasn’t made as much in-roads in the North American and European markets as some of its Android competitors, but the company is making a big play to be as big in the western world as it is in its home base of China. At CES 2012, the company unveiled two new Android tablets that I got a chance to spend a couple of minutes with and walked away with a favorable – but still skeptical – view of what’s to come.
The Lenovo K2 IdeaPad tablet follows-up the K1 tablet with a much better hardware design. For starters, the back of the device has a textured material that feels much better than the glossy plastic seen previously. It was unclear what exactly kind of material is on the back – it felt like a textured faux-metal but it could be real aluminum, the reps were unclear – but the tablet feels great and light. The K2 has a large 10-inch screen that really looks beautiful and has a thumb-sized bevel on the edges. It’s a decent tablet, but I’m not so sure how well it will be received because Lenovo might customize the software, currently a stock Android 4.0, when it comes to market. I’m not a big fan of Lenovo’s overlay on Gingerbread, but we’ll see what the company can do on Ice Cream Sandwich.
The Lenovo S2 Android tablet gives me the same reservations and optimism. Again, Lenovo hints that it might provide some customizations, but it’s Android 4.0 for now. What’s interesting about this particular tablet is that it joins the rank of tablet-to-pseudo-laptop with a separately-sold dock. Playing the GoBot to ASUS’s Transformer, the S2 is one of the most interesting devices I’ve seen at this still very young CES. The dock can extend battery life up to 20 hours, video playback is ridiculously smooth with 1080p video, the Qualcomm Snapdragon chip has a strong reputation, and the form of the device feels like a solid Android tablet got spliced with a Thinkpad dock. It will be really interesting to see how the final product stacks up against the Prime.