Lenovo Tab A8 Tablet Review

Bernie Pechlaner, 06/16/2014

A-game? Lenovo updates their budget-friendly A-series of tablets with quad-core processors and Google's latest Android OS. Is the new 8-inch Tab A8 a step up from the previous generation or are the stalwarts in the class a better choice despite their higher prices?

In April of 2014, Lenovo announced a refresh of their inexpensive A-series tablets. The new slates are differentiated mainly by their screen size, as each features the same entry-level Mediatek 1.3 GHz quad-core SoC, 1 GB of RAM, as well as 16 GB of flash storage. The series is comprised of three different models: the 7-inch Tab A7, designed primarily for browsing and reading, the 8-inch A8, intended as a entertainment tablet, and the 10-inch A10, which meets both entertainment and productivity needs with the optional Bluetooth keyboard. Our review tablet is the 8-inch model which retails for a reasonable $179. Interestingly enough, the spec sheet on Lenovo's site lists both a Wifi as well as a 3G version of the A8. The 3G model comes with stereo speakers instead of a single speaker and adds proximity and light sensors. Our review tablet is the Wifi-only version; the 3G model is - at least at the time of writing - not available for purchase.

Last year we took a look at the then-current 7-inch IdeaTab A1000 and came away unimpressed, since the list of compromises Lenovo made to keep the price down was just a little too long for our liking. The new slate corrects, at least on paper, most of the shortcomings we complained about before: the display panel now uses IPS technology with a higher resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels, and performance should be up as well thanks to the new quad-core CPU.

The A8 seems to be a decent package for under $180, but does it have enough going for it to warrant a purchase over other inexpensive tablets or even the higher-end Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4?

Case

Although the A8 is advertised as a "colorful" tablet, at the time of our review the only model and thus the only color choice in the manufacturer's online store is what Lenovo calls "Midnight Blue". As far as appearance is concerned, the design is not very exciting which can be a good thing or bad thing depending on the user's point of view. The corners are nicely rounded and the back features a soft-touch finish which improves the grip and resists fingerprints better than a glossy surface would. A thin black plastic strip sits along the perimeter and encloses the actual display. Since this strip is slightly raised above the glass panel, the tablet is not a true edge-to-edge design.

Considering the slate's MSRP, we have no major qualms with the build quality. The Tab A8 measures 217 x 136 x 8.95 mm and weighs 360 g - slightly wider, 2 mm thicker, and about 30 g heavier than Samsung's Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4. Lenovo's own Yoga Tablet 8, which right now sells for only about $20 more, features a cylindrical spine and a larger battery weighs and weighs about 400 g. The case design is solid and pressure applied to the curved back has no impact on the display itself. We did notice changes to the backlight with black turning to gray when we twisted the Tab A8, but the amount of force necessary is not going to occur during daily use so this behavior doesn't have a detrimental effect.

Connectivity

Left edge: microSD card slot
Left edge: microSD card slot
Right edge: power button, volume rocker switch
Right edge: power button, volume rocker switch
Top: micro-USB port, headphone jack
Top: micro-USB port, headphone jack
Bottom: no connectivity
Bottom: no connectivity

As far as physical ports are concerned, the tablet comes with a micro-USB port, the 3.5 mm headphone out, and a microSD card slot (up to 32 GB are supported according to Lenovo) hidden under a little plastic flap on the left edge. The slot cover is fairly flimsy and requires some fiddling to get it to close properly. There is no dedicated video out (micro-HDMI), but that is common for this class of tablet. The micro-USB port is used to charge the tablet, although USB On The Go (OTG) is supported as well. When we connected a suitable adapter cable (not included), we were able to browse a connected a USB drive without any issues.

Communication & GPS

Standard WLAN b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 are on board and both work well with decent signal strength and without any random dropouts or similar problems. We were able to connect a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse without any issues. The GPS functions as intended and the A-GPS sensor established a satellite lock inside in just slightly over a minute. Outside the connection happened more quickly and the accuracy improved as well.

Software

Lenovo Smart Side Bar
Lenovo Smart Side Bar

The Lenovo Tab A8 ships with Android v4.2 Jelly Bean, although an upgrade to Android KitKat 4.4 is available free of charge. Our review tablet was already updated with the latest Android 4.4.2. The UI is uncluttered and easy to navigate. The Lenovo Smart Side Bar allows the user to switch between standard, multimedia, and reading modes and allows quick access to  various media and recently used apps.

Cameras & Multimedia

The Tab A8 comes with a front-facing webcam with 2 megapixels and a rear-facing 5 megapixel camera. Both cameras are fixed focus. The webcam is good enough for video conferencing, but color noise is high in low-light conditions. The rear-facing camera captures photos with a fair amount of details, although the colors seem a tad too vivid. The camera app also includes face beauty, live photo, panorama, and HDR modes and offers settings for hue, saturation, and brightness compensation, among others. Videos recorded with the rear-facing camera are smooth but also suffer from high amounts of noise in darker environments.

Video playback performance is very decent and both 720p and 1080p video files play smoothly and without any stutters.

Front-facing camera outdoors
Front-facing  camera outdoors
Rear-facing camera outdoors
Rear-facing  camera outdoors
Front-facing camera indoors
Front-facing  camera indoors
Rear-facing camera indoors
Rear-facing  camera indoors

Accessories

The product box only contains the tablet itself, the power adapter, the USB cable, and a quickstart as well as a product information guide. Lenovo offers a IdeaTab Folio Case to protect the tablet from wear and tear for $20.

Warranty

The tablet carries a standard 12-month warranty against defects. Lenovo will extend the warranty to a 24-month depot-warranty for an additional $60.

Input Devices

Keyboard

The Tab A8 comes with the standard Android keyboard. We had no problems using the keyboard in either landscape nor portrait mode. The tablet has a pager motor, so there's haptic as well as audible feedback when a key is pressed.

Touchscreen

During our time with the tablet, the 10-finger HD multi-touch display recognized inputs reliably.

We also had no issues with the automatic screen rotation, as the tablet switched quickly and reliably between landscape and portrait mode.

Display

The 8-inch IPS display features a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels, which is OK for a budget-friendly tablet, although many smaller, rather inexpensive tablets - for example, Google's Nexus 7 2013, which can be found online for around $190 - have higher resolutions of 1920 x 1200 pixels. Samsung's Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4, which is admittedly twice as expensive, has a WQXGA display with a resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels; Apple's iPad Mini Retina has 2048 x 1536 pixels. Nonetheless, in our opinion the resolution is acceptable and text is quite sharp without noticeable pixelation.

We measured an average brightness of about 320 nits across 9 quadrants. Lenovo's Yoga Tablet 8, which has the same size screen and resolution, is significantly brighter at 450 nits, while the Google Nexus 7 reaches an almost unbelievable 510 nits. For indoor use, the brightness is certainly sufficient, but outdoors we frequently had to adjust the position of the tablet or head for a shaded area to be able to decipher the screen.

The contrast of 770:1 is very good for the class and at the same level as Apple's iPad Mini Retina; both the Yoga Tablet 8 and the Nexus 7 can't quite keep up in this department. Samsung's Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 has a superior contrast ratio of 860:1.

310.4
cd/m²
349.4
cd/m²
308.7
cd/m²
304.7
cd/m²
348.1
cd/m²
314.9
cd/m²
303
cd/m²
341.1
cd/m²
313.7
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 349.4 cd/m²
Average: 321.6 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 87 %
Center on Battery: 348.1 cd/m²
Black: 0.452 cd/m²
Contrast: 770:1

Both color accuracy and grayscale are decent at deltaE deviations of 4.4 and 3, respectively, with only a few colors exceeding 5 units. At higher saturation levels, blue is the only color significantly out of range. Both the gamma at 2.21 and the color temperature of 6468 K are as close to their ideal values as they can be. The Google Nexus 7 outperforms most other tablets as far as color accuracy is concerned, but the Tab A8 still offers very acceptable performance for the price range.

Saturation
Saturation
Grayscale
Grayscale
ColorChecker
ColorChecker
Outdoor use, shade
Outdoor use, shade

As we already mentioned, outdoor performance is not that great, since the brightness of the display is not sufficiently high to overcome the glare of the sun. The Tab A8 is thus best used in the shade or on overcast days to avoid straining the eyes. Google's Nexus 7 is probably the best choice if frequent outdoor use is required.

Unlike the previous-generation IdeaTab A1000 mentioned in the introduction, the Tab A8 features an IPS panel, which is definitely something we'd like to see even on a budget slate. Although we observed some minor darkening at angles exceeding 45 degrees, overall viewing angle stability doesn't disappoint. 

Performance

The Tab A8 comes with the 1.3 GHz entry-level quad-core MT8121 from Mediatek with integrated PowerVR SGX544 GPU. Also on board are 1 GB of RAM and a 16 GB eMMC flash drive. Versions with a larger flash drive or more RAM are not offered.

The Mediatek SoC is based on the Cortex-A7 standard and integrates Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi, as well as GPS. The result of the CPU benchmark Linpack for Android shows that the MT8121 only offers about 10 % higher performance than the former flagship-processor Nvidia Tegra 3: the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700T from 2012, for example, posted a score of about 107 MFLOPS, while our review tablet managed 115 MFLOPS. The chip is leaps and bounds ahead of the MT8317T dual-core processor in the A1000, however: while the dual-core SoC only managed 900 points running Geekbench 2, the MT8121 managed almost 1300 points, which is a plus of about 45 %. The Yoga Tablet 8 with the MediaTek MT8389 posted an identical score of 1300 points. Of course, a tablet like the Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 with its significantly more powerful Snapdragon 800 completely trounces our review tablet, as the Geekbench 3 scores show: while Samsung's contender scored 915 and 2782 points (single-core / multi- core), the Tab A8 only managed 351 and 1156 points, respectively.

Despite the fact that results of the synthetic benchmark tests are not exactly overwhelming, we never felt that performance was a bottleneck during the review period and the tablet handled all commonly encountered tasks without noticeable lag. Given the price point, the overall performance is more than adequate.

Quadrant Standard
Quadrant Standard
Smartbench 2012
Smartbench 2012
Geekbench 2
Geekbench 2
Geekbench 3
Geekbench 3
3DMark (2013)
1280x720 Ice Storm Standard Score (sort by value)
Lenovo A8-50
3206 Points ∼2%
Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8
2953 Points ∼2% -8%
Google Nexus 7 2013
11828 Points ∼8% +269%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Score (sort by value)
Lenovo A8-50
2869 Points ∼2%
Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8
2530 Points ∼2% -12%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
15439 Points ∼11% +438%
Apple iPad mini Retina
14180 Points ∼10% +394%
Geekbench 3
32 Bit Single-Core Score (sort by value)
Lenovo A8-50
351 Points ∼10%
Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8
325 Points ∼9% -7%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
915 Points ∼26% +161%
Apple iPad mini Retina
1393 Points ∼40% +297%
32 Bit Multi-Core Score (sort by value)
Lenovo A8-50
1156 Points ∼9%
Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8
1096 Points ∼9% -5%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
2782 Points ∼22% +141%
Apple iPad mini Retina
2512 Points ∼20% +117%
Linpack for Android
Single Thread (sort by value)
Lenovo A8-50
114.2 MFLOPS ∼17%
Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8
99.216 MFLOPS ∼15% -13%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
379.336 MFLOPS ∼56% +232%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
379.336 MFLOPS ∼56% +232%
Apple iPad mini Retina
536.03 MFLOPS ∼79% +369%
Google Nexus 7 2013
97.481 MFLOPS ∼14% -15%
Multi Thread (sort by value)
Lenovo A8-50
221.9 MFLOPS ∼20%
Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8
35.209 MFLOPS ∼3% -84%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
664.042 MFLOPS ∼61% +199%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
664.042 MFLOPS ∼61% +199%
Apple iPad mini Retina
998.18 MFLOPS ∼91% +350%
Google Nexus 7 2013
253.634 MFLOPS ∼23% +14%
Epic Citadel - Ultra High Quality (sort by value)
Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8
23.4 fps ∼39%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
25.3 fps ∼42%
Google Nexus 7 2013
38.5 fps ∼64%

Legend

 
Lenovo A8-50 Mediatek MT8121, PowerVR SGX544, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 Mediatek MT8389, PowerVR SGX544, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Apple iPad mini Retina Apple A7, PowerVR G6430, 16 GB iNAND Flash
 
Google Nexus 7 2013 Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro APQ8064A, Qualcomm Adreno 320, 16 GB SSD

Browser performance is generally within 10 % of Google's Nexus 7 and the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8, but both the Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 and especially the Apple iPad Mini Retina offer about 2x to 2.5x the performance in most browser benchmarks. Subjectively, the browser performance is certainly sufficient.


Peacekeeper - --- (sort by value)
Lenovo A8-50
618 Points ∼10%
Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8
557 Points ∼9% -10%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
876 Points ∼14% +42%
Apple iPad mini Retina
1724 Points ∼28% +179%
Google Nexus 7 2013
611 Points ∼10% -1%
Sunspider - --- (sort by value)
Lenovo A8-50
1454 ms * ∼36%
Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8
1413.5 ms * ∼35% +3%
Apple iPad mini Retina
271.8 ms * ∼7% +81%
Google Nexus 7 2013
1104.6 ms * ∼27% +24%
Octane V1 - Total Score (sort by value)
Lenovo A8-50
2029 Points ∼10%
Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8
1355 Points ∼6% -33%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
4507 Points ∼21% +122%
Apple iPad mini Retina
5139 Points ∼24% +153%
Google Nexus 7 2013
2283 Points ∼11% +13%
Google V8 Ver. 7 - Google V8 Ver. 7 Score (sort by value)
Lenovo A8-50
2179 Points ∼12%
Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8
1282 Points ∼7% -41%
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
4276 Points ∼23% +96%
Apple iPad mini Retina
5151 Points ∼28% +136%
Google Nexus 7 2013
2248 Points ∼12% +3%

Legend

 
Lenovo A8-50 Mediatek MT8121, PowerVR SGX544, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 Mediatek MT8389, PowerVR SGX544, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Apple iPad mini Retina Apple A7, PowerVR G6430, 16 GB iNAND Flash
 
Google Nexus 7 2013 Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro APQ8064A, Qualcomm Adreno 320, 16 GB SSD

* ... smaller is better

Storage Devices

The 16 GB eMMC flash module offers sequential read performance comparable to the Nexus 7 at about 63 MB/s. Writes are faster (23 MB/s vs. 14 MB/s), however. Subjectively, programs load quite quickly and we never felt that the storage speed was a bottleneck during the review period.

Games

The MT8121 from Mediatek is paired up with the integrated PowerVR SGX544, which is an entry-level GPU not particularly know for high performance. Nevertheless we had no issues with the games we downloaded, as the performance was generally without any hickups or stutters. Synthetic benchmark tests confirm the subjective performance: Epic Citatel, for example, ran at 53 fps in high quality mode, NenaMark2 at 52 fps. Tablets with the same GPU like the Asus Memo Pad HD 7 generally perform very similar; the Google Nexus 7 with the Adreno 320 manages about 60 fps in the same tests.

Shadowgun Deadzone
Shadowgun Deadzone
Angry Birds Go!
Angry Birds Go!

Emissions

Temperature

During idle, the surface temperatures reached a maximum of around 31 degrees C, while the average was just around 29 degrees C. Tasked with heavier loads like gaming or when running the stability test, the tablet heats up to a 32 degrees on average with a hotspot of close to 37 degrees C on the top in the middle - or, in other words, right where the fingers of the left hand fall when holding the tablet in landscape mode. Other tablets like the Nexus 7 or the Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 get quite a bit warmer with a high of 46 and 39 degrees C, respectively. While the temperature differential can be felt, the Tab A8 never gets uncomfortably warm even during extended gaming sessions.

Max. Load
 35.2 °C29.6 °C33.2 °C 
 35 °C29.2 °C33.8 °C 
 33.4 °C29.2 °C30.8 °C 
Maximum: 35.2 °C
Average: 32.2 °C
30.6 °C29.4 °C35.4 °C
30.4 °C29.6 °C36.6 °C
28.8 °C29.6 °C33.4 °C
Maximum: 36.6 °C
Average: 31.5 °C
Power Supply (max.)  34.4 °C | Room Temperature 23.6 °C | Raytek Raynger ST

Speakers

Unfortunately, the Wifi-only version of the Lenovo Tab 8 has to make do with a single speaker, while the 3G-version - at least according to Lenovo's spec sheet - has stereo speakers. While the volume is sufficiently high for a movie, the absence of the second speaker on the top edge is very noticeable when the tablet is in landscape mode, as the sound is clearly coming from the right side. We definitely recommend headphones for this tablet, as the included Dolby software can't make up for the lacking speaker.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
21h 48min
WiFi Surfing
9h 20min
Load (maximum brightness)
4h 52min

Battery Life

The lithium-polymer battery provides 4200 mAh. With the screen turned down to minimum brightness and the wireless radios disabled, the tablet lasted for about 22 hours. To get an idea of the minimum runtime, we run the tool Stability Test to stress both the CPU and the GPU with WiFi turned on and the screen set to the maximum brightness. The Tab A8 shut off off after almost 5 hours, which is an excellent result. For the more realistic WLAN test, we set the display to approximately 150 nits while a script simulates browsing conditions. In this case, the tablet lasted for 9 hours and 20 minutes, which beats out the Nexus 7 at almost 7 hours, but falls short of the Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 at 11 hours 45 minutes and  Lenovo's own Yoga Tablet 8, which benefits from its spine-mounted large battery and achieved about 17 hours.

Verdict

In Review: Lenovo Tab A8
In Review: Lenovo Tab A8

With an MSRP of $180, the Lenovo Tab A8 is an attractive choice for the budget-conscious buyer. Everyday performance is more than adequate and the battery life sufficient for a full day. The tablet is certainly not very exciting to look at, but the build quality is decent and the 8-inch IPS display with its vivid colors and good contrast is easy on the eyes. Sure, both the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 and the Apple iPad Mini Retina will outperform the Tab A8 on nearly every level - but both carry a price tag to match. The Google Nexus 7 has a higher-resolution display and a class-leading brightness, but lacks the microSD card slot so many users wish for. Lenovo's own Yoga Tablet 8 sells for $20 more and offers the best battery life - but the unusual design might not appeal to everyone.

static version load dynamic

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In Review: Lenovo Tab A8
In Review: Lenovo Tab A8

Specifications

Lenovo A8-50

:: Processor
Mediatek MT8121 1.3 GHz
:: Memory
1024 MB
:: Graphics adapter
:: Display
8.0 inch 16:10, 1280x800 pixel, 10-point multitouch, capacitive, IPS, glossy: yes
:: Harddisk
16 GB eMMC Flash, 16 GB
:: Connections
1 USB 2.0, Audio Connections: 3,5-mm-Buchse, Card Reader: microSD, Sensors: Accelerometer, GPS, Lagesensor
:: Networking
802.11 b/g/n (b g n ), 4.0 Bluetooth
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 8.95 x 217 x 136
:: Weight
0.36 kg Power Supply: 0.06 kg
:: Battery
15.5 Wh Lithium-Polymer, 4200 mAh
Battery runtime (according to manufacturer): 11 h
:: Price
139 Euro
:: Operating System
Android 4.4 KitKat
:: Additional features
Webcam: 2MP and 5 MP, Speakers: Mono, Keyboard: Virtual, 12 Months Warranty

 

The Lenovo Tab A8...
The Lenovo Tab A8...
...features a 10-finger multi-touch IPS display
...features a 10-finger multi-touch IPS display
The design isn't exactly exciting.
The design isn't exactly exciting.
A slim plastic bezel surrounds the display.
A slim plastic bezel surrounds the display.
The WiFi model has one speaker on the bottom...
The WiFi model has one speaker on the bottom...
...but is missing the one up top.
...but is missing the one up top.
Satellite acquisition took just over one minute indoors.
Satellite acquisition took just over one minute indoors.
Accuracy improves outside.
Accuracy improves outside.
The standard Android keyboard.
The standard Android keyboard.
The microSD card is hidden under a little flap...
The microSD card is hidden under a little flap...
...which doesn't always want to close properly.
...which doesn't always want to close properly.
In addition to the microSD card, USB OTG is also an option.
In addition to the microSD card, USB OTG is also an option.
Not much in the way of accessories...
Not much in the way of accessories...
Quite light: the power adapter and its cable.
Quite light: the power adapter and its cable.

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» Lenovo A10 Tablet Review
Mediatek MT8121, 10.1", 0.5445 kg
» Review Alcatel One Touch Idol X Smartphone
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» Review Lenovo S5000-F Tablet
Mediatek MT8125, 7.0", 0.246 kg

Links

  • Manufacturer's information

Compare Prices

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Pro

+IPS panel with good performance
+System performance is decent
+Battery life is very good
+Latest Android version
 

Cons

-Mono speaker
-Plastic flap covering the microSD card slot is flimsy
-Not an edge-to-edge design
-Display could be a bit brighter

Shortcut

What we like

The price-performance ratio. The IPS display with its decent colors and very good viewing angle stability.

What we'd like to see

The display could be slightly brighter.

What surprises us

That the Wifi version of the tablet lost one of its speakers.

The competition

Google Nexus 7Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4Apple iPad Mini Retina

Rating

Lenovo A8-50
06/23/2014 v4
Bernie Pechlaner

Chassis
71%
Keyboard
71 / 80 → 89%
Pointing Device
94%
Connectivity
36 / 70 → 51%
Weight
85 / 88 → 94%
Battery
93%
Display
84%
Games Performance
52 / 80 → 65%
Application Performance
31 / 70 → 44%
Temperature
90%
Noise
100%
Audio
44 / 91 → 48%
Camera
56 / 85 → 66%
Average
70%
83%
Tablet *
Weighted Average

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Lenovo Tab A8 Tablet Review
Author: Bernie Pechlaner, 2014-06-16 (Update: 2014-07- 1)