Android has come a long way since its first release – after version 2.1, it became a force to be reckoned on the mobile market, and today it has the largest market share on smartphones, with tablets slowly catching up. This year has marked a new milestone for the OS – the release of Android 4.0, code named Ice Cream Sandwich, which is the most advanced version yet.

There are plenty of new features and capabilities that will benefit users and developers alike, and if you have a dual core smartphone or plan on buying one, you should definitely look forward to the OTA update, which has already started rolling out and should be complete by the end of spring. Here are just a few of the reasons why Ice Cream Sandwich is worth the attention:

It’s the first universal tablet/smartphone version of Android. Ice Cream Sandwich is the first version of the OS that was designed to run on both smartphones and tablets, something that everyone expected to happen with Android 3.0 Honeycomb. Google finally got around to creating a unified API and user interface that fits both small and big displays alike and runs all the apps on the Market equally well no matter what the pixel density of the display is. Of course, there are differences between the tablet and smartphone UIs, but the underlying code is nowhere near as different as is the case with Honeycomb and Gingerbread. All in all, ICS should be faster, more stable and compatible with all your favorite apps on both your tablet and smartphone.

It has a new, distinct user interface. Android Gingerbread introduced some noticeable changes in the UI for smartphones and Honeycomb brought a very nice interface to tablets, but Ice Cream Sandwich beats them both when it comes to it. The new user interface features the biggest redesign yet – dark colors are prevalent (which also saves battery on OLED displays), the text has a new font and different colors, the lock screen got a very nice upgraded look, there are several new gestures for everyday operation and of course, there’s the System Bar – a variable buttons strip at the bottom of the display, which replaces the traditional hardware buttons to make the phone smaller while not sacrificing screen size – the Bar disappears when it’s not needed.

It supports full on-device encryption. This is a big one for corporate users and individuals who want their data to be safe at all times – Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is the first version of the OS to bring full support for on-device encryption – basically, all the data on the phone’s storage is encrypted, making it useless to anyone without the access key. This will allow Android to compete with Blackberry OS, and corporate users will finally start getting the option of a great smartphone that can both work and play instead of the antique Blackberries that currently dominate the sector.

It brings the new Google apps. Google has updated all of their apps for Ice Cream Sandwich and made them compatible with the new features that the OS offers. The mail app, calendar, Google Talk, Search, and others – all have a new interface, new useful features and tighter integration with Google Plus – something that Google is pushing hard nowadays.

It has new useful features for app developers. App developers will also have more opportunities to create awesome and unique apps for Android 4.0, thanks to the new development tools, new APIs and hooks. The advanced multitasking, improved speech engine, deeper hardware communication with the OS and other things mean that developers will have unprecedented capabilities to create new and exciting apps, and that’s great for everyone.

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is definitely the top gunner when it comes to mobile operating systems – it has everything you might need and more. With the new user interface, new capabilities for developers, the awesome new features and Google’s long term support pledge, you can be sure that it will perform great for years to come.

Android is one of the top operating systems for mobile devices, and it becomes significantly better every year, with every new version bringing a lot of great features and improvements in tow. The latest version, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, is by far the best mobile OS yet, but even the previous Android 2.3 and 3.0 are excellent on any device. If you have an Android smartphone or tablet and want to better manage your time, money and everyday life, here is a short collection of the top apps I recommend:

QuickOffice

QuickOffice is one of the top solutions for working with documents on your smartphone or tablet. The suite has support for all of the popular file formats, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF, letting you view, edit and create beautiful and informative documents from scratch, right on your mobile device. The latest update also brings support for Evernote and Catch notes, access to Egnyte, Google Docs, Dropbox, MobileMe and other online file storage services, with support for synchronization, of course. You can save a lot of time by reviewing your work documents on the go on a small tablet or smartphone as opposed to a laptop or desktop computer.

Evernote

Evernote is the premier note taking app for any platform, and its Android application is just as good as the award winning iOS and Mac apps. You can use Evernote to save all of your ideas for later review in the form of text, photos, video or audio with notes, tags and descriptions. Furthermore, you can create To Do and task lists out of the ideas you previously jotted down, email or tweet anything right from the app, and sync all your data with other devices running Evernote or the remote storage space provided by the service, which is useful if you want to be able to access your notes at all times, from anywhere.

Astrid

This free task and To Do list management app combines simplicity with advanced features like no other application, and if you value your time and want to be able to quickly plan and schedule tasks, you should definitely check it out. The interface is clean and uncluttered, giving you just enough functionality to be able to plan most of your tasks, but if you need to set up an advanced reminder, share a task, create a list or do something else, you can easily do it using the features hidden under the various menus and tabs.

eWallet

eWallet is a veteran on the mobile market, having been around since the days of Windows Mobile 5, and it’s still going strong. The app is basically a secure locker that can be used to store any kind of information and even files. You can use it to save your usernames and passwords, credit card and bank account numbers, flight information, your schedule and any other information that you need to keep safe. The 256 bit AES encryption practically guarantees that nobody but you will be able to access the data – though you do have to choose one strong master password and remember it.

Pocket Informant

Pocket Informant is the best task and schedule management app I’ve seen for Android – it’s the perfect replacement for the standard Android Calendar if you need something that will actually help you get things done instead of getting in your way. You can use Pocket Informant to manage your daily schedule, your tasks and even small projects. The app supports the GTD methodology and has a very nice interface as well – be sure to check it out even if you’re content with the default Calendar app!

Sure enough, there are plenty of other great apps for managing your time and money on the Android Market, but I believe the above five to be among the best, and if you’re looking for something to help you with your daily work and life, you should give them a try – they’re definitely worth the money.

Smart TVs are set to become big in the next couple of years (and possibly much sooner if Apple’s iTV turns out to be true), and Google TV is at the forefront of the technology. It is relatively unknown to most people, but an important step to bringing the World Wide Web to the masses. Google TV is basically the Android OS optimized for TVs. There are quite a few companies that have announced their plans for smart TVs (LG being the most notable), and that’s great news for all the current Google TV owners – the platform is here to stay.

If you own a set top box running Google TV or are just planning on acquiring one, you should know that the strength of the platform is in the third party apps that are on the marketplace – there are already quite a few of them, and new ones are being ported and released every month. Here are just a few of the best apps that work with Google TV and which you should definitely check out when you get the chance:

OnLive

OnLive is the future of gaming, and if you still haven’t heard about the service, you should definitely check it out as soon as you get the chance. OnLive basically gives you the ability to play any PC games on any device, from underpowered laptops and netbooks to the iPhone, iPad, Android tablets and smartphones and of course, Google TV sets. The technology behind it is really simple and amazing – all the heavy processing is done on a remote cluster of servers, and the player receives a video feed of the game, while also transmitting control signals through the app. All you need is a good Internet connection. If you have a Google TV set, be sure to give this app a try – it works great even without a specialized controller, and I’m sure it will amaze you.

Dolphin Browser HD

If you want to get the best Web browsing experience on your TV, you should definitely download Dolphin Browser. It is pretty much the best browser for Android and it works perfectly fine on Google TV, as well. The browser has everything you can think of – support for tabs, full support for AJAX and Flash (you can even watch Flash videos inside the browser window), plugins and themes, and more.

Spotify

Spotify is all the rage when it comes to music streaming, and it’s easy to see why – the service lets you stream any of the 15 million+ songs to your computer, phone, tablet or in this case, TV set, and you can buy the song if you like it, share it with your friends, find and play the lyrics along with the song, view artist information, get tickets to concerts, find similar songs and much more. The app is made for Android, but it works fine with Google TV, as well.

Airtight

If you have an iPhone or iPad and would like to stream video to your Google TV box wirelessly, Airtight is what you need. It is an app that works with Apple’s Airplay, and it’s pretty good at receiving video and displaying it on the big screen – you can even use your phone as a remote. Sadly, there’s still no support for music streaming, but developers say that it’s coming soon.

News360

News360 is the only news app you’ll ever need. It aggregates the latest news from all over the world, front hundreds of sources, and presents it to you in a clear and easy to read format. If you like keeping up with the news and knowing all the points of view, News360 is a great addition to your Google TV app collection.

If you have a Logitech Revue, Sony Internet Blu-Ray player or a Sony Internet TV set (the only devices running Google TV at the moment), you should definitely check out some of the apps that are available for your platform. The latest Google TV update brings support for new features, and with a couple of third party apps, you can turn your smart TV into the home entertainment platform you always wanted. Start by checking the apps listed above and work your way from there.

Industry critics say that Apple will have to find a way to respond to changes in the Asian markets which mean that the iPhone will no longer remain the hottest commodity in mobile phones. Competitors such as Lenovo are putting the pressure on Apple to diversify and offer cheaper alternatives in their product line: something the tech giant has hitherto avoided for fear of watering down their brand.

The hottest news this week are the rumours of the new ‘iPhone Math’. The name of the phone is not confirmed, the source being the China Times and leaving tech fanatics wondering if something has been lost in translation. So what the rumoured specifics on the new phone? Well, it will allegedly have a much larger screen display. The iPhone is now competing with the ‘phablet’ category of phones, which is currently led by Samsung’s Galaxy S3 model. Stores are also not having to work hard to sell Samsung galaxy ace handsets. The larger screen display is said to come with an 8 megapixel camera, like it’s stablemate the future iPhone 5S.

The ‘iPhone Math’ will also be made of plastic – significantly lessening the cost of a phone with an aluminium casing. Will Asian customers care if a cheaper casing lets them pick up a cheaper machine? Probably not. Although the beautiful design of Apple technology is appreciated everywhere, customers will probably care more about what’s inside the box and how they can adapt it to their needs. Give them a phone that works well and they will continue to plonk down cash for mobile.

All these releases put the total of Apple phones released in 2013 to three. That’s much more than the company has previously put out in any year. But, as with the arrival of the iPad Mini device, Apple has shown that is willing to adapt the strategies of its competitors in the global market. With the announcement of their recent drop in profits, Apple will surely do anything they can in order to stay on top.

The Smartphone market is absolutely intense at the moment, with new models from major companies like Sony Ericsson and Apple set to hit the shops in the near future, meaning that Samsung has a lot riding on its new model – the Galaxy s2. This is a pretty expensive phone, with a monthly cost of £35 and a total of £519.99 SIM-free, meaning that the firm from Korea needs to be able to justify this hefty price tag with their latest model, which it has described as the natural successor to its finest Smartphone thus far.

Fortunately the Samsung Galaxy S2 lives up to both the hype and the price tag, offering a combination of brilliantly sharp picture quality, great technology and innovative design, ensuring that there is not much to criticise with the phone. The design, which abandons the standard all-metal chassis, for a combination of metal and plastic, ensures that the Samsung Galaxy s2 rivals models by competitors, such as the Xperia Arc from Sony Ericsson, for the title of lightest, slimmest Smartphone on the market. Some might consider the plastic a little on the flimsy side, but the mesh design on the rear of the phone is very effective in ensuring that the phone does not become uncomfortably warm when you are using it for an extended period.

The Samsung Galaxy s2 also offers impressive tech to impress geeks, with Super AMOLED plus screen providing a display which can scarcely be faulted either for sharpness or brightness, an Android 2.3 Gingerbread operating system and a fine 8.1MP camera with LED flash. On the downside, one of the few criticisms that could viably be made is that the operating system is perhaps not the easiest to use, while the excess of app software and options for customisation that you may be required to delete will be somewhat tiresome for all but the geekiest of mobile enthusiasts.

For the past couple of years, the iPhone ruled in multimedia and gaming matters, however 2011 was the year Android finally stood up to the task, as well. Initially, Google’s mobile OS was pretty restricted in multimedia – you couldn’t even find a good music player on the Market, but today, there are plenty of awesome media players, as well as some pretty wicked games.

If you have an Android smartphone or tablet, here are a few 3D games you should check out to see just how great the platform has become at gaming – their quality is easily comparable to that of PSP and Nintendo DS games and it supersedes the PlayStation One and Two, and that is definitely nothing to scoff at.

Modern Combat 3: Fallen Nation.

The Modern Combat series is one of the most successful first person shooters for Android and iOS, and Fallen Nation is by far the best game yet. The premise and story is very similar to the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series for PC and the Xbox, but what’s really impressive is the graphics and sound quality – Modern Combat 3 looks and feels amazing for a smartphone game (in fact, it’s even better than many PSP and older PC titles). The touch screen controls aren’t bad either, and you’ll go through the 13 missions in a breeze – if you like FPS games, Fallen Nation is a must have.

Asphalt 6: Adrenaline

If you’re a fan of racing games, you’ve most probably already heard of or even tried Need for Speed Shift – the best game in the series for smartphones. Well, Asphalt 6 is even better! You can race 42 cars in 55 events and 11 leagues, collecting the cars in your own 3D garage along the way. The graphics quality is nothing short of amazing, as are the audio and special effects. The accelerometer and touch screen controls are also the best in class – everything is smooth and precise, unlike many other games. At the asking price of $1, this game is a must have for anyone with an Android phone.

Shadowgun

Shadowgun can easily be called THE smartphone game of 2011. It came out for both iOS and Android and it has shattered everyone’s view of just how good smartphone/tablet games can be. The graphics and special effects quality are at the top of the charts, with the story and gameplay following close behind. You play as the galaxy’s most infamous bounty hunter, sent to hunt down a maniacal scientist with his own personal army of cyborgs and genetically enhanced mutants, and with the latest weapons and your own AI assistant, SARA, you’ll have to fight your way through several levels and hack terminals to get to your target. This game is a must have on any compatible Android smartphone and especially tablet!

AirAttack HD

AirAttack HD puts you in the pilot seat of a WW2-era warbird, and lets you fly missions to bomb bases, hunt submarines, dogfight other planes in the air, escort and protect your squadron’s bombers from enemy fighters and more. There are 8 missions with 58 different types of enemy craft, a lot of weapons and upgrades for your plane, destructible buildings on the ground (as collateral damage), great music and awesome graphics – if you like warbirds and flight simulators, you should try this game.

Blood and Glory

Blood and Glory is one of the best indie games to come out this year for Android. It puts you in control of a gladiator in the arena, and lets you fight others to entertain the viewers. There are no rules, and the fights are to the death – choose your weapons and armor well and learn how to attack and defend yourself. The swipe and slash controls work great, and the 3D graphics are pretty awesome, especially when you know that the game is completely free.

There are a lot of other great games on the Android Market, and it looks like we’ll see tons more this year – after all, smartphones are set on replacing portable gaming consoles in people’s pockets, and with the latest hardware, they’re doing a great job at it. If you like to play a good game once in a while whenever you’re bored, be sure to check out the above five – they’re pretty darn impressive.

Toshiba has already attempted to enter the tablet market last year, with the Thrive being pretty much a complete failure. The fault didn’t lie in poor hardware, though – on the contrary, the Thrive had a lot of features that other tablets don’t, including a full size USB and HDMI ports and a SD card reader. The reason why it failed was poor marketing (people didn’t even know that it hit the stores!) and, to a lesser degree, the bland design of the device. But this year, Toshiba is back in action, with a completely new tablet that is sure to rock everyone’s socks off – the Excite X10.

Exterior design

Unlike its predecessor, the new Excite X10 is all about design. It is the thinnest and lightest tablet on the market, being only 0.3 inches thick and weighing only 1.18 pounds, and it’s not made out of cheap plastic either. Instead, you have a full metal and glass design, with the front being covered by a big sheet of Gorilla glass and the back cover (which is non-removable) having a very nice brushed finish and a big Toshiba logo in chrome letters. The sides of the tablet also have a groove that makes it look unique and pretty cool.

Hardware features and performance

Despite the ultra slim and trendy design, the Excite X10 hasn’t lost any of the important hardware features – it has everything you’d ever need on a tablet and more. The 10.1 inch display is the first thing that amazes you when you turn the device on: the IPS LCD unit is simply great, with a sharp picture thanks to the 1280×800 pixels resolution, near perfect viewing angles and of course, excellent colors, contrast and brightness.

The other hardware specs are everything you would expect from a modern, high end tablet: there’s the standard Wifi N, Bluetooth 3.0 and GPS radio combo, a set of sensors for normal operation, as well as a micro SD card slot, 3.5 mm audio jack, micro USB and micro HDMI ports – there’s nothing the Excite X10 can’t accomplish. There are also 16 or 32 GB of storage space inbuilt, and with a micro SD card, you can extend that by up to 32 GB more.

There are two cameras on the X10: a 5 megapixels unit on the back with an LED flash for photos and HD videos (1080p video recording is supported), and a 2 megapixels unit on the front for video calls and occasional self-snapshots. The quality of both cameras is great and either one can be used for photos to be posted on Facebook or sent via IM, for example.

Software

Toshiba will be shipping the Excite X10 with Android 3.2 Honeycomb out of the factory, but there’s an OTA update to Ice Cream Sandwich coming up, so there will be no issues with outdated software on this tablet. The user interface has a few customizations made by Toshiba, but it’s nothing extensive and you can enjoy a mostly vanilla Android experience (which is great compared to iOS, for example –there’s so much you can customize and do) out of the box.

Price and Availability

The Excite X10 will cost $529 and $599 for the 16 and 32 GB versions, and while it’s a bit on the high side (especially with sub-$500 quad core coming up), the high quality of the tablet and the hardware features can definitely be worth it. Toshiba hasn’t yet announced a release date, but the tablet should become available in stores by the beginning of spring, so it won’t be long before we can buy or at least pre-order it. I just hope that Toshiba hires a better marketing and PR firm for this device, so that it doesn’t repeat the Thrive’s mistake.

Lenovo has released quite a few devices at CES 2012 this year, but among the half a dozen laptops and a couple of tablets, the IdeaPad Yoga definitely stood out the most. It is basically a Ultrabook/tablet hybrid, but unlike convertibles like the Dell Latitude XT3, the Yoga has a different mechanism by which it transforms into a tablet, which is unique and, in many ways, better than a single rotating hinge.

The tablet heavily depends on Windows 8, which is coming out as a Beta at the end of February, and should be released as a final version by the end of summer, which is when the Yoga will be released, as well. Until then, you have plenty of time to decide if it’s worth it, and this short review can help you with that.

Exterior design

When closed, the IdeaPad Yoga looks just like any other Ultrabook – it’s slim, light and has a pretty nice exterior design, which reminds a lot of its bigger brother, the IdeaPad U300s. It has an all metal build, with a big sheet of glass covering the display and offering a decent amount of scratch protection, and you won’t find any flexing or creaks anywhere. The lid has a matter aluminum finish, as does the underside, while the palm rest and the frame around the keyboard is covered with leather, which prevents scratches and makes it easier to hold the laptop when in tablet mode.

The tablet mode transformation is simple – just open the lid and continue pushing it backwards, up to 180 degrees – it’s pretty wicked when you see it the first time, but you get used to it. Obviously, the laptop is thicker and heavier than your usual tablet (at 17mm and 1.5 kg), but you get a big 13 inch IPS display with a 1600×900 pixels resolution in exchange, plus of course some very powerful hardware inside. The keyboard is exposed on the back, but it won’t be damaged by everyday use, since it’s sunk into the housing.

Thanks to the 180 degrees opening angle, you can use the tablet mode on a desk without an additional stand, or watch movies, surf the web, read documents or play games with the display closer to you, which is more comfortable on a bed, for example.

Performance and hardware features

The performance of the IdeaPad Yoga will be quite respectable, thanks to the Core i7 Ivy Bridge processor with the next generation Intel graphics adapter (which is two to three times as fast as its Sandy Bridge counterpart), 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD in the top configuration. The battery life won’t suffer either, both because Ivy Bridge is very energy efficient and because Lenovo is using a pretty massive 54 W/Hr battery in the Ultrabook, which will last around 8 hours of continuous use.

The other hardware specs are nothing special – as is the case with most of the other Ultrabooks and tablets, the Yoga has a Wifi N and Bluetooth adapters inside, as well as a slew of ports on the outside: two USB ports, a HDMI out port, a Thunderbolt port, a 3.5 mm audio jack and a SD card slot.

Software

The IdeaPad Yoga relies heavily on Microsoft’s new Windows 8 OS, which is still in the early release stages, although it will definitely hit the market in time, by the looks of it. The new Metro UI makes it easy to use the tablet mode, and you still have the full power of a desktop Windows in laptop mode – you can use it to work with Photoshop, Microsoft Office, the powerful desktop version of Mozilla Firefox and other great software that you won’t find on any ARM tablet yet.

Price and Availability

As I already mentioned, the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga will be available by the end of the upcoming summer, so there’s still a pretty long way to go. The price is expected to be $999 for the base model (with Core i5, 128 GB SSD and 4 GB of RAM) and $1299 for the top model, but I believe that it will decrease by the time the device is released since there will be more competition, for sure. The Yoga is a perfect universal computer for those who need performance, portability and flexibility in one package.

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.

Exterior design

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).

Software

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.

This year at CES, Lenovo seemed to be focused more on laptops than other products, but alongside the dozen or so different ThinkPads and IdeaPads, they did somehow manage to announce and demonstrate not only several tablets, but also a couple of smartphones (one of which was the K800 – a Medfield prototype).

One of the more interesting tablets was the IdeaPad K2, which was running Android and had a pretty impressive feature set that could easily be compared to that of the current flagships Asus Transformer Prime, Acer Iconia Tab A500 and of course, the iPad 2. In fact, the IdeaPad K2 is better than its competition in a few ways, and if it makes it to the market before the iPad 3, it sure would deserve a potential buyer’s attention.

Exterior design

The IdeaPad K2 looks pretty good on the outside – it certainly is more unique than the other tablets on the market. The front has the beautiful 10.1 inch IPS display with a 1920×1200 Full HD resolution, as well as two conspicuous grills, which of course hide the four audio speakers. That’s right, there are four of them on the K2, and all of them are aimed towards the user for the best audio quality on a tablet – there’s even Dolby Surround support, and unlike all the other tablets, it’s actually pretty good at creating a good 3D audio image.

The back of the device has a brushed metal finish and a distinct look, with the fingerprint reader being visible on the left side. It’s actually pretty useful, seeing as Android Ice Cream Sandwich has full on-device encryption, and it should be a great way of keeping your data safe and still being able to quickly access your device with one swipe instead of typing a password. The overall build quality of the IdeaPad K2 is simply great – it is made mostly out of metal, after all.

Performance and hardware features

The performance of Lenovo’s new flagship Android tablet is at the highest level, thanks to the latest Tegra 3 platform, which features a quad core 1.3 GHz processor, and a new GeForce GPU with 12 cores, both of which are two to three times as fast as the components of the previous Tegra 2. That’s pretty impressive considering the whole SoC consumes the same amount of power. There’s also a full 1024 MB of RAM to keep things smooth when running multiple apps at the same time or loading a particularly intensive game or application.

The other hardware features are everything you would expect from a modern high end tablet. You’ve got the usual Wifi N, Bluetooth and GPS radios, as well as a 3.5 mm audio jack, HDMI and USB out ports, a micro SD card slot for storage space (in addition to the onboard memory), and two cameras – a 2 megapixels unit on the front for video calls and occasional quick snapshots, and a bigger 5 megapixels unit on the back with LED flash and support for 1080p video recording.

Software

The IdeaPad K2 will be running the all new Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich out of the box, and that’s great since the new OS brings a lot of improvements over previous versions, all of which are important. Aside from the full encryption support, Ice Cream Sandwich also has a new interface, universal APIs, a lot of fixes and improvements, new Google Apps and a slew of useful features like Face Unlock and Android Beam. It’s definitely much better than Honeycomb, and it will be the mainstay Android OS for at least a year or so.

Price and Availability

The Lenovo IdeaPad K2 is expected to be available by the end of spring this year, and the price is confirmed to be around $1000, making it one of the most expensive Android tablets to hit the market. The reason for the high price is that the IdeaPad is aimed at the business and corporate markets, bringing a few unique features to keep data secure, plus the build quality is simple awesome – this thing can take a beating! Hopefully the price will come down though, making the K2 a good choice for consumers, as well.