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Lenovo IdeaTab S2109 hands-on: an Android tablet of iPad proportions

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We got to spend some time with the Lenovo IdeaPad S2109, an Android tablet that's the spitting image of the iPad 2.

Lenovo IdeaPad S2109
Lenovo IdeaPad S2109

Android tablet manufacturers are by and large split into two broad categories: high-end iPad competitors, and inexpensive tables like the Kindle Fire and Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 that make some sacrifices to hit an all-important price point. Lenovo's latest tablet, the IdeaTab S2109, splits the difference: it's currently on sale for $311 after launching a couple of weeks ago, and though its specs aren't overly impressive they're solid. Its design is the spitting image of the iPad 2 — the S2109 's 9.7-inch, 1024 x 768 display (with a 4:3 aspect ratio) dominates the 1.3-pound device, and if you removed the Lenovo logo from the front you'd barely be able to tell it apart from Apple's last-generation slate. The S2109 doesn't have a rear-facing camera, opting for only a 1.3-megapixel front shooter — somehow that doesn't seem likely to trouble most buyers. One nice addition is the four-speaker setup on the back of the device, which outputs impressively loud, clean sound – though with so many grilles on the back it's hard not to cover one with your hand.

Inside, the IdeaPad S2109 runs Android 4.0, and in a few minutes spent with the device seems to run it really well. It's totally stock Android, too — Lenovo adds its App Shop with a few new apps and widgets, but otherwise there's nothing added to the experience. It's powered by a dual-core, 1GHz TI processor, which is a bit underpowered compared to the Tegra 3 inside so many other tablets; though the device worked well in our limited tests, we'll reserve judgment until we've put it fully through its paces.

Using the device was a reminder of how much we love 4:3 aspect ratio displays — the S2109 is usable in both orientations in a way most Android tablets simply aren't. Lenovo's previous tablet offerings haven't really taken off, but the S2109 could be a pretty compelling option: the hardware is quite good without being revolutionary (the S2109 also comes with a grippy rubber case), and if the internals are up to powering Android 4.0 the $311 price could be a steal. And did we mention we love 4:3 aspect ratios?