Friday, January 24, 2014

Lenovo IdeaPad A10 (Android) hands-on review

Being the "family geek" I am often asked for laptop recommendations. More often than not, functionality requirements are so low that even chromebook will be sufficient. Actually I already recommended two chromebooks and so far both continue to please their owners.

Sometimes the requirements list Skype or greater autonomy as mandatory items. For such users an Android tablet should be enough. Occasional keyboard users require something more substantial. Bluetooth keyboards only complicate the picture.

Since the Lenovo IdeaPad A10 (Android) appeared on the market (end of October 2013), I have been looking on the internet for a hands-on review of the device. And even now, three months later, nothing useful have shown up. This is probably related to Lenovo's refusal to market the laptop in USA (most possibly due to the shaky patents ground there). Lack of cyanogenmod posts on the device and abundance of clearly bought reviews on various blogs did not help either..

Finally couple of days ago, I decided to bite a bullet and buy localized (Hebrew) Lenovo IdeaPad A10 for $310. So here is my list of pros and cons I found so far:


  • USB charging is done by standard 2A 5v microUSB jack.
  • Touching the touchpad yields visible mouse pointer that simulates screen touches. This gives expected look and feel in laptop mode.
  • Interface is easy to use, but suffers from touch/pointer dilemma. Long story short - your hand starts aching after some time pressing buttons on vertical screen.
  • Two full-size USB connectors make it easy to connect flash-disks or mouse - this also improves look and feel in laptop mode.

  • There is no root jail-breaking application (at the moment). This makes it impossible to install VNC server - a must for tech support of the newbie users.
  • Lack of root access makes it impossible to mount a network share. Lack of any modders activity leaves little hope for that to change though.
  • Built-in "explorer" crashes when trying to connect to a webdav sever.
  • SFTP support in the "exporer" does not allow specifying target path.
  • The touchpad is single-figner only and can not interpret gestures - nice to have with most modern laptops (for example: two fingers down = scroll down).
  • SFTP support in the "exporer" does not allow to specify path on the server, does not show video files as icons, insist on copying the file locally first, and even that it does on ridiculously slow speed of 250 KBytes/s..
  • It is expensive for what it offers. A $150 tablet with a BT keyboard could be bought for less than that. Heck, add a bit more and you can buy weak laptop..
Verdict so far: The tablet/wannabe laptop combination is acceptable for users that are aware of its limitations and feel comfortable about it. Fortunately that was the case for me.