The Lenovo IdeaPad K1 packs: the power and flexibility of Android 3.1; good specs in its 10.1-inch screen and Nvidia Tegra 2 processor; a wide range of pre-installed apps, many of which fix gaps in the basic apps of Android; a fairly good price tag, coming in cheaper than the iPad 2; and some nice features, including the microSD card slot and USB host connector.
Yet, we wouldn't recommend it over the other options. Certainly not when compared to the Asus Eee Pad Transformer, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 or iPad 2. Or, indeed, a great deal of the other tablets we've reviewed.
The Lenovo IdeaPad K1 does have good specs. Tegra 2 should provide plenty of power, the 32GB of on-board storage is great and it's got a big, high-res screen. For under £400, that's not bad value for money.
We also like, in principle, that Lenovo has taken such an aggressive approach with apps. Many are superfluous, but having a full version of Documents to Go is a genuinely great thing to have on a tablet right from the start.
And though many people will find having a Home button on an Android 3.1 tablet pointless, some people will find it appealing. At least, it makes the Lenovo stand out.
Performance was inconsistent, but we can just about put up with that. The screen is a bit dim, but we can put up with that. Many of the included apps are confusing, and named the same as the (often better) built-in apps, but we can put up with that.
We can't put up with a tablet that happily locks you out of it so often. Whether the lock icon is refusing to budge, or whether you just can't turn the screen on at all, it's frequently impossible to use the IdeaPad K1. And that's not remotely good enough for a device that costs £400.
It crashed on us, it locked us out, it ran slowly for no apparent reason, parts of software (Flash particularly) wouldn't behave correctly – we just got sick of not knowing if we'd be able to use it or not.
On top of that, it's larger than the competition, and heavier. It may be cheaper than an iPad 2, but it comes in at about the same price as the Eee Pad Transformer, which strongly suggest you check out instead.
Lenovo's IdeaPad K1 is a tablet with some bright ideas that can't manage to complete the basics. The strength of tablets is that they're computing without the friction or hassle – straight onto the web or email in seconds from picking it up. If the tablet doesn't reliably turn on, or if the web pages won't scroll properly, what's the point in a tablet?
The problems with the IdeaPad K1 could possibly be fixed with an update, but as it stands, we can't recommend it. Look at the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, the iPad 2 and the Asus Eee Pad Transformer instead.