Among Lenovo’s many devices set for release in the first half of 2012, one of the most attractive is the IdeaPad S2 – a consumer-level high end tablet that is set to take on the Asus Transformer Prime 700 and has everything it needs to actually succeed, including powerful internal hardware and a keyboard dock that is remarkably similar to the Transformer’s accessory.
The IdeaPad S2 is not that unique when it comes to the exterior design – it looks and feels like your usual 10 inch tablet, with the big screen on the front and pretty much nothing on the back. The display is covered with a big sheet of Gorilla glass, and the back has a nice metallic texture finish that feels and looks great. By itself, the S2 is very slim and light – more so than the Transformer Prime 700 series, actually, and even with the special keyboard dock, which includes a battery and several ports, it weighs only 1.1 kg – an impressive achievement for what is practically a sophisticated netbook.
Performance and hardware features
The performance of the Lenovo IdeaPad S2 will surprise you. In the specs sheet you’ll see that it runs on a dual core Qualcomm Snapdragon platform, with the processor running at 1.5 GHz per core – big deal, no way it can compare with the Tegra 3, right? Well, that’s where everyone is wrong. The Snapdragon under the hood of the S2 is actually Qualcomm’s next generation MSM8960 Krait, an SoC capable of competing on equal terms with the quad core Tegra 3, even though it’s dual core.
It matches the Tegra 3 in benchmarks, and it’s actually faster in real life use because Android is still pretty bad at managing 4 cores, so two higher clocked cores perform better in most apps. The Adreno 225 graphics adapter is also new, competing on equal grounds with NVidia’s GeForce, and the 1 GB of DDR2 RAM in dual channel mode keeps things smooth even if you’re running a dozen different apps in the background.
The other hardware is equally as impressive – aside from the usual Wifi N, Bluetooth 3.0 and GPS radios, the IdeaPad S2 has a USB port, HDMI out port, 3.5 mm audio jack, a 2 megapixels camera on the front and an 8 megapixels camera on the back with 1080p video recording support, 4G speeds of up to 42 Mbps download and a slew of sensors needed for everyday operation. The 10.1 inch display may not be Full HD like on the Transformer Prime, but its IPS technology make the 1280×800 pixels more than enough for any kind of applications.
The keyboard dock is very similar to that of the Transformer Prime, and it also comes as an optional accessory. It’s got an integrated battery that increases the lifetime of the tablet from 10 to 20 hours of continuous use, a great island style keyboard and several ports, including two full sized USB ports and an SD card reader (which can be used for extra storage space).
Obviously, the new IdeaPad S2 will be running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich out of the factory, and Lenovo has also installed their custom skin on top of it – an iffy decision, I’d say, but as long as it doesn’t interfere with the normal operation of the tablet and it doesn’t lag, I’d say there’s no need to worry about it. Plus, the tile based home screen looks pretty sleek.
Price and Availability
The Lenovo IdeaPad S2 will be released in the second quarter of 2012, by the end of spring, probably, and the cost will be comparable to that of other high end tablets on the market, i.e. around $500-600. Not a bad price, although if you want the keyboard dock, you’ll have to pay extra. I hope that Lenovo releases the tablet before the iPad 3 to give it a fighting chance, but even with Apple’s next revolutionary tablet on sale, I think the S2 will do just fine.