Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Lenovo Tab 3 8 Review: A Very Good Family-Centric Budget Android Tablet

I previously reviewed the Fire HD 8 and thought it was the choice Fire tablet and, overall, a very good budget tablet. The Lenovo Tab 3 8 that is being reviewed is similarly, in my opinion, another very good budget choice, if Android is the preferred operating system. Below are my impressions after using the device (comparisons will be made with Amazon's Fire HD 8):
  1. The 1280 x 800 IPS display is good for its price range and I would rank it above the Fire HD 8
    (Of course, there is an element of personal preference in this judgement). What I particularly like - considering the e-reading slant of this blog - is the 'adaptive display' feature. This feature adds a small menu, at the bottom, so that the user is able to change the colour tone to match the content consumed (see screenshot on the right). By default there are four display modes - media, standard, child and reading. Media mode is for video content and enhances audio and colour saturation. Both kids and reading mode change the colour tone to a reddish/orange tinge to cut out blue light emission and reduce eye strain (in reading mode the colour tone is a stronger red/orange). Standard mode is the default display setting and keeps a balanced colour temperature and saturation for day time viewing. Finally, there is the further option to personalise the display tone with a customisable user mode. In custom user mode, it is possible to further tweak the display's contrast, saturation, picture brightness, sharpness and colour temperature.
  2. Lenovo are targeting the Tab range as an affordable family-centric device and this may be observed in the software choices adopted. Thus, Android is over-layered with some alterations that includes a 'Kid's Mode' profile. The profile allows adult supervision on times permitted for use, which apps are available, website access history and app usage history. The adaptive display feature is useful in 'Kids Mode' with the option to alter the screen colour tone to filter blue light and ease eye strain.  
  3. The tablet comes with Dolby Atmos stereo audio and the audio quality is excellent for a tablet in this price range. There is also a dedicated Dolby application built into settings that allows the user to tweak the audio to meet their personal preferences. 
  4.  Performance is very good for the price category. The 2GB of RAM - something still an exception in the budget category - means there is little lag and multi-tasking doesn't slow down or freeze the tablet. It should be noted that I am reviewing the device considering e-reading, browsing the web, email access and consuming video content; thus, more power intensive tasks, e.g. gaming, are not considered in this review.
  5. Battery-life is good enough but the Fire HD 8 is superior. If you want long battery life then the Fire HD 8 is the better choice but there is a trade-off, as the Lenovo Tab 3 8 offers better performance, Android and enhanced system features. However, if you are a frequent user of Amazon services then the Fire HD 8 would be the better choice, as Fire tablets come with a user-friendly 'out of the box' integration of Amazon services.  
Overall, the Tab 3 8 and Fire HD 8 are both very good choices. If a longer battery life, tighter integration between Amazon services and a lower price are the user's preferences then the Fire HD 8 is the better option. On the other hand, the Lenovo Tab 3 8 would be the better option, if the user prefers the superior Android eco-system, better audio quality, more RAM and a slightly better screen. Both Amazon and Lenovo are very good options that cater for the budget and family-centric sectors and it is the for the end-user to choose which one best meets their needs.

A final note - the Lenovo Tab 4 range was announced recently at MWC 2017 and will gradually become more widely available. I would expect Lenovo's Tab 3 tablets to be discounted soon and so the Tab 3 8 might be available at a lower price than the Fire HD 8.

Overall rating: 8/10

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