Lenovo IdeaTab S2 hands on review

Shape-shifting form-factor, Ice Cream Sandwich, 20 hours of battery life. The Asus Transformer Prime isn't the only hybrid on the block

Asus' Transformer had better watch its back now that Lenovo has announced its 10in, dual-core powered Transformer Prime-baiting IdeaTab S2.

Not only does it come packing Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, it throws up an impressive 20 hours battery life when combined with its dedicated keyboard dock. On its own, the tablet gives you 10 hours of usage.

As a standalone tab, the IdeaTab S2 is wonderfully lightweight at 575g and supermodel slim at 8.7mm – so, it's one of the skinniest and lightest Android tabs around.

Its skinny status takes a hit when it joins forces with the dock to transform into a fully-fledged netbook, making it at least a couple of centimetres in depth and adding around 1KG to your man bag.

While that bulky hinge is dangerously close to eyesore territory, it feels reassuringly sturdy – and the textured lid is a nice touch.

We can't help but think this could have been more elegantly designed, though.

Images and text look good, and more importantly crisp and distortion free, thanks to its 1280 x 800 pixel display.

The tablet docks with the keyboard a lot more easily than the docking mechanism on the Eee Pad Transformer and Transformer Prime, as there's no fiddly sliding action. It simply slots securely into the dock with a reassuring click. Freeing it from the keyboard is equally easy – just push down the dedicated button to leave the dock behind. 

The keyboard of course means extra ports: two USB ports, micro HDMI and a card reader. These are accompanied by an 8MP camera round the back and a 1.3MP front-facing for video calls. The dock also brings the added convenience of a a keyboard and trackpad. Obviously.

Stocked with a 1.5GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM, the S2 certainly isn't going to win the race against the Transformer Prime's quad-core Tegra 3 super powers, but will prove powerful enough to keep Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich chugging along without too much stuttering. 

It's fair to say Lenovo has really made its mark at this year's CES with its computing efforts, which also include the shape-shifting Windows 8 Ultrabook-cum-tablet, dubbed the IdeaPad Yoga. Some are calling it a direct rip off of the Asus Transformer, but hey, don't all manufacturers rip off (er, we mean, borrow) ideas from each other at some point?

With the original Transformer breaking the mould and excitement over the Prime at fever pitch, Asus' efforts to take the tablet outside the box look to have finally caught on. Could this mark the beginning of a new breed of portable computers?

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