Lenovo IdeaTab S6000 Android tablet review

Lenovo could do great things with Motorola if the S6000 tablet is anything to go by.

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Lenovo IdeaTab S6000
  • Lenovo IdeaTab S6000
  • Lenovo IdeaTab S6000
  • Lenovo IdeaTab S6000
  • Expert Rating

    3.75 / 5

Pros

  • Value for money
  • Good Android customisations
  • Micro-HDMI port

Cons

  • Little RAM
  • Not the best camera

Bottom Line

Those of you who want a multimedia tablet will appreciate the wide range of features offered by the IdeaTab S6000. Whereas most tablets within its $299 price tag are not full-sized, the IdeaTab S6000 offers a 10.1in screen, stereo speakers, expandable storage and the freedom of Micro-HDMI connectivity. Its camera is the tablet’s only sore spot, but we don’t think that’s a deal-breaker in this case.

Would you buy this?

The first time I handled the Lenovo IdeaTab S6000, I thought it was worth much more than its asking price. I wasn’t the only one duped by its attractive finish because colleagues around the office thought the same thing too. And that’s the thing about the S6000; almost every facet is better than it should be considering it’s a full-sized 10.1in tablet priced at just $299.

Black is the new black

The 10.1in IdeaTab S6000 has a black-on-black colour scheme, with only its badges and a camera accent breaking it up with a touch of chrome. It’s already a chic 9mm, but its slimming colour-scheme drives home the point that this is a thin machine. It’s also a lightweight tablet at just 560g.

The back of the tablet shakes things up with a pattern that feels good to the touch. There’s a 5MP camera, which is not joined by a flash, and the attractive grilles of stereo speakers.

Almost every facet is better than it should be

Pressing the power/unlock key on the top-left will awaken the 10.1in screen. The technology here isn’t cutting-edge; it has a mediocre 1280x800 resolution. Even so, that's not a deal breaker. A 149 pixel-per-inch density means that a trained eye can see the pixel make-up, but images and videos look good enough to be enjoyed. Furthermore, the screen features a 350-nit brightness, which makes it quite vibrant. It has the ability to recognise 10 points of contact, which comes in handy when gaming.

Lenovo is pitching the S6000 as an “Entertainment tablet” on its website. Although we believe the S6000 has other strengths, the combination of stereo speakers and the screen does endow the S6000 with entertainment-grade credentials.

Vanilla-ish Android

Few revisions have been made to the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean operating system. Deleting widgets from the homescreen no longer requires dexterous fingers; now you just tap a ‘delete’ icon. It’s a revision we’re quite fond of.

Other changes to the Android OS are limited to the addition of a few proprietary widgets and applications. Most of these supplementary applications can be deleted. This is good news for those of you who see no value in bloatware.

Lenovo's custom widgets are more like folders that group relevant applications
Lenovo's custom widgets are more like folders that group relevant applications

Lenovo’s software tweaks enhance the already comprehensive Android experience. Instead of coating the software in an unattractive theme, the company has simply tried to genuinely improve on it. Not only does this make it more enjoyable to use the S6000, but the lack of a custom skin helps the tablet run more efficiently.

Flicking through the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean interface is smooth. More often than not the experience is very quick and seamless; however, there are a few occasions where the software will stutter. These hiccups are few and far between, but even with the bare-boned Android OS, you can tell the Lenovo is straining its humble hardware.

Punching above its weight

Given its low $299 price, it is unrealistic to expect the S6000 to feature leading components. It’s not the quad-core 1.2GHz Cortex A7 CPU that leaves us wanting more, but rather the limited 1GB of RAM. Even when you use a task manager to clear all of the running applications, more than 50 per cent of the available RAM will be in use. We feel more RAM would have resulted in a smoother user interface and, subsequently, a near-faultless experience.

A Micro-HDMI port makes the S6000 great for on-the-go presentations.
A Micro-HDMI port makes the S6000 great for on-the-go presentations.

On board, the S6000 has 16GB of internal storage, but it can be expanded by an additional 32GB microSD card. Decent storage specs are one reason why the S6000 should be considered as a multimedia tablet. Another is its connectivity repertoire.

In between the volume rocker and memory slot is a Micro-HDMI port. This valuable inclusion means the display of the S6000 can be easily shared with an HDMI-compatible TV or display. Even tablets in higher price brackets — such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 and Apple iPad Air — don’t include a Micro-HDMI port.

The S6000 could make a great business tablet

Lenovo does not offer the S6000 with 3G support. The Wi-Fi tablet supports 802.11 b/g/n, the current Bluetooth 4.0 standard and, according to Lenovo, it can be used to charge smartphones through its Micro-USB on-the-go (OTG) capable port. A specific cable is needed to put this feature to work, and it doesn’t come bundled with the tablet.

Powering the S6000 is a hearty 6350mAh (milliamp-hour) battery. The battery lasted for more than 10 days and 18 hours with intermittent use (1-2 hours per day), which included Wi-Fi browsing, music playback, video streaming and playing some games. This should significantly drop with heavy use, but we estimate the S6000 should last one or two days with regular-to-heavy use.

The Achilles heel

Letting the S6000 down is its limited imaging capabilities. The rear camera can capture 5-megapixel images at an aspect ratio of 4:3, but if you want your photos taken at the television-friendly 16:9 ratio, they will have to be taken at 1MP. Even at 5MP, photos are characterised by too much noise and a lack of detail.

The S6000 can record videos in Full HD resolution, but it wouldn’t be our camera of choice if wanted to capture precious memories. Videos suffer from the same lack of clarity that plagues photos, and the only real way to enjoy videos captured on the S6000 is to replay them on a very small screen.

A VGA camera can be found on the front of the S6000, but it too performs below average. Other tablets, such as the ASUS MeMO Pad 8, have a higher front-facing resolution that is friendlier to online video conferencing.

Taken with the Lenovo S6000
Taken with the Lenovo S6000

Taken with the Lenovo S6000
Taken with the Lenovo S6000

Final thoughts

Those of you who want a multimedia tablet will appreciate the wide range of features offered by the IdeaTab S6000. Whereas most tablets within its $299 price tag are not full-sized, the IdeaTab S6000 offers a 10.1in screen, stereo speakers, expandable storage and the freedom of Micro-HDMI connectivity. Its camera is the tablet’s only sore spot, but we don’t think that’s a deal-breaker in this case.

We particularly think the Lenovo IdeaTab S6000 could make a great business tablet. Companies looking to fit their mobile workforce with a practical and cheap Android tablet solution should sincerely consider this great value proposition.

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Read more on these topics: Motorola, 4.2, multimedia, Tablet, S6000, Android, Lenovo, jelly bean
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