IdeaTab A1000

A solid tablet for the price range that suffers from a bizarre fatal flaw

First announced in Barcelona at the Mobile World Congress earlier this year, the IdeaTab A1000 is Lenovo's latest entry into the budget tablet market. While Lenovo has been known for sitting at the sidelines when it comes to the Android smartphone market in the United States, the company is becoming successful in other countries, and does have a presence when it comes to Android tablets in the U.S.

While the IdeaTab A1000 is priced in a range that keeps it relatively safe from comparisons to some of the most recent 7-inch tablets, it has other problems. As the saying goes, "you are your own worst enemy." The amount of internal storage this tablet offers is the Achilles heel of its otherwise solid and sturdy construction. This is where the confusion may set in.

As the specification page for this tablet indicates, it has 16GB of internal memory. This may seem like far too much to be considered the worst feature of a device, especially when other tablets have done fine with half that amount. This is a special situation, one that we haven't seen for a very long time.

The Good

Feels very solid and well built, dual front facing Dolby speakers and equalizer, good overall system performance, Android extras like percent battery meter and scheduled on/off, strong vibration motor, FM radio, toggle buttons in notification area, USB OTG for controller peripherals (mouse, keyboard, etc.) and USB drives.

The Bad

Low internal memory allocation causes errors resulting in the inability to install more than a few apps as well as breaking sync, no automatic display brightness, low screen resolution causes screen pixelation, poor viewing angles cause darkness and color distortion if not looking straight on, screen colors are slightly washed out overall.

Conclusion

The Lenovo IdeaTab A1000 has some surprisingly good qualities for a tablet that competes in one of Android's lowest price tiers. Unfortunately, the sum of its parts cannot fix the whole, which is absolutely crippled by a very poor (and completely fixable) software design flaw. After updating included apps and installing a small handful of others, the tablet loses some of its most important core functionalities. In its current state, there are too many other good (and working) tablets out there to consider this one.

Video walkthrough

The IdeaTab A1000 hardware

IdeaTab A1000

The 7-inch glossy LED screen has a resolution that comes in at an underwhelming 1024x600, causing the display to look pixelated. This makes small text blocky and sometimes hard to read, necessitating a pinch-to-zoom to improve clarity. Colors are a little dulled and give that washed-out feeling, making the screen lack any sort of "pop." The screen becomes  dark once the viewing angle is increased away from the user, with a strange quirk when viewing from the left side -- an almost x-ray effect with darkness becoming inverted. While brightness is adjustable, there is no option for it to be automatic.

Inside is a 1.2 GHz MTK 8317 Dual-core Cortex-A9 processor, 1GB of DDR2 RAM, and 16GB of total internal storage. This hardware serves the tablet well, allowing speedy navigation through home screens, menus, and apps with minimal stuttering or lag.

Connectivity is made possible with a Wi-Fi radio that supports b/g/n as well as Bluetooth 4.0. The IdeaTab A1000 does have a motor for vibration on touch, as well as a GPS sensor and accelerometer. Power is supplied by the 3500 mAh battery, which I've found to be good for about 7 hours of continuous light to moderate use.

Size and weight are both average, with the IdeaTab A1000 coming in at 0.77 lbs. and measuring 7.83 x 4.76 x 0.42 inches. The surrounding bezel is fairly even all around, with plenty of room to get a secure grip without worrying about accidental input on the screen.

IdeaTab A1000

There are two front facing "Dolby Digital Plus" speakers on the top and bottom of the tablet, which make for loud and properly directed audio. Speaker volume is capable of reaching and exceeding the level that most people will need while holding the tablet, while managing to keep a clear sound with minimal distortion. Placing the speakers on the front of the tablet eliminates the worry of sound being blocked by improper hand placement or any surface that the tablet may be resting on.

IdeaTab A1000

The rear shell is made of smooth, hard plastic. It has both the Lenovo and Dolby labeling, along with a sticker that lists all the FCC and government regulation info. It's quick to collect finger smudges and other marks; my unit already has a couple small gouges. The overall construction is surprisingly good -- the solidness of this tablet makes it seem more expensive than it really is. Body lines are all even and aligned, with no squeaking or other noises when being handled.

IdeaTab A1000

The top edge of the tablet is home to the power button, 3.5 mm headphone jack, and micro-USB port. The tablet's single camera comes in at 0.3 MP, and is front facing -- located up on the top left corner of the device.

USB OTG (on the go) is fully supported via the micro-USB port, allowing the use of accessories like a computer mouse, keyboard, or gaming controller. USB drives can also be connected, allowing the tablet to copy files to and from the external storage, as well as play media -- without any extra apps or rooting.

There is a built-in equalizer in the Android settings for tweaking the sound that comes out of the 3.5 mm headphone jack. Volume at different frequencies can be adjusted, as well as bass boost, 3D effect, and reverb. There are also 17 presets for those that like to choose music genre instead of manually tweaking their sound settings.

IdeaTab A1000

The right side of the tablet is where the volume rocker can be found, as well as the expandable storage door (SD card not included). Storage is expandable with SD cards as large as 32 GB, allowing for plenty of space for music and movies. The SD card door can be a little stubborn, and being made of such thin plastic does not instill confidence when try to mash it back into place. Closing the door does get easier, though, with a little practice to find just the right angle.

The IdeaTab A1000 software

IdeaTab A1000 homescreen

Lenovo has included a relatively unmodified flavor of Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean, which as of last week is two Android versions old (at least it's not on Ice Cream Sandwich). There have been a few extras thrown in, which are actually pretty interesting and useful. The main screen comes populated with Lenovo's own custom widgets for weather, date, notes, and folders.

IdeaTab A1000 battery settings

A feature that is very popular with the custom ROM crowd, battery meter percentage, is available through the battery settings menu. This is especially useful in Android 4.1, where battery percentage has not yet been added to the notification pull-down. Another popular custom ROM feature, AM/PM next to the time, is present as well -- although it cannot be toggled off.

IdeaTab A1000 profiles IdeaTab A1000 sounds

Audio profiles have been added to replace the stock Android sound settings, giving users 4 predefined profiles (General, Silent, Meeting, Outdoor) as well as the ability to create custom ones. This can come in handy for fast switching of notification sounds and volumes -- the predefined profiles even get buttons in Android's notification area.

IdeaTab A1000 file manager

The popular file manager, ES File Explorer, comes preloaded for all your file managing needs. The "sdcard0" entry is where the majority of the IdeaTab A1000's internal memory is, while "usbotg" is my 16 GB thumb drive that I've connected to the tablet via micro-USB -- thanks to the supported OTG feature.

IdeaTab A1000 schedules

Also an included addition to the Android settings is "Scheduled power on & off." This does exactly what is sounds like -- powers the tablet on and off based on time and days of the week. This is an interesting feature that actually does appear to shut the tablet completely off and back on, not just into a special hibernation state. If only the "Power on" option is checked, and the tablet is manually turned off, it will in fact turn itself back on. I can't think of any use I would personally have for it, but it is a cool feature.

The storage

IdeaTab A1000 error

As mentioned in the hardware section earlier in this review, the Lenovo IdeaTab A1000 comes with 16 GB of memory for internal storage. As with most consumer electronics, the total amount of internal memory gets partially used by things like the operating system and pre-installed applications, which means not all 16 GB will be available to the user. However, even after taking that little factoid into account, the IdeaTab A1000 comes with only about 2.5 GB of its internal storage used, which means the user gets 13.5 GB to play with.

With the average Android application taking up just a few megabytes, It's pretty difficult to fill up 13.5 gigabytes of memory with applications alone -- unless copious amounts of large games are downloaded. Storage most commonly becomes a problem with those that keep music or movie collections on their devices, which will eat up memory pretty fast.

To get the error in the above screen shot, all it took was the downloading of 5 apps. That's right, 5. Not 50 or 500, but 5. This is apps alone, with no music, movies, or media of any kind downloaded. These were not extremely large apps either, and they included no games. If this doesn't make sense, it will soon.

IdeaTab A1000 notification

When the internal storage runs low, not only is it impossible to install any other applications without removing existing ones first, but the system disables all syncing abilities. This means GMail, Hangouts, People, and any other app that depends on syncing, stops working. The sync disabling is not limited to just Google apps, either -- 3rd party apps that rely on syncing also get broken. These two factors alone bring the tablet to its knees, taking away some of its most important core functionalities.

IdeaTab A1000 storage IdeaTab A1000 app screen

The tablet's developer decided to partition the 13.5 GB of memory into two parts: "Internal Storage" with 503 MB, and "USB Storage" with 13 GB. It's hard to imagine a reason for this since most other devices would just allocate the entire 13.5 GB GB of storage to the "Internal Storage," the primary place where Android apps and data are stored.

Because of this strange dividing of memory, 503 MB of "Internal Storage" act as the main internal memory, and 13 GB of "USB Storage" act like a separate SD card. This means in order to save apps and data on the 13 GB partition, one must use the"Move to USB storage" function (the same as the apps-to-SD function), which not all apps support, and still requires part of an app and its data to store some information on the "Internal Storage."

IdeaTab A1000 before updates IdeaTab A1000 after updates

When first booted up, the IdeaTab A1000 shows 396 MB available out of the 503 MB of total "Internal Storage." After updating all the system apps like GMail, Maps, Google Search, etc. (which can't be moved to "USB Storage"), there are 106 MB left. That means for the rest of this tablet's life, only about 100 MB of apps can be installed. Yes, more apps can be installed by using the "Move to USB Storage" function in an app's info screen, but this still uses some of the "Internal Storage," and doesn't work at all for some apps.

Dipping below about 50 MB of available space on the "Internal Storage" will trigger the "Storage space running out" error, stopping the syncing of all apps. So, after pre-installed applications are updated once the tablet is out of the box, there is really only 50 MB of primary storage available before things start breaking.

This is an enormous oversight by the makers of this tablet's software, resulting in usable memory so small that 3 year old Android phones can rival the IdeaTab A1000 in internal storage capacity -- and apps sure have gotten a lot bigger since then.

The bottom line

Since a fully updated IdeaTab A1000 loses its ability to synchronize applications after 50 MB of internal storage is used, and loses the ability to install any apps after using about 100 MB, it is impossible to recommend spending $129.95 on a tablet that's poor software planning severely limits it's basic functionality.

After contacting Lenovo about the storage space issues, I received the following response:

Just wanted you to know we are working on this and they are looking to create a downloadable update to repartition the storage. I’m sorry to say we don’t yet have a scheduled date for this, but will let you know as soon as we do.

I really do hope that this storage issue gets fixed soon in a software update. If this problem is resolved, Lenovo has a competitive tablet for this price point. Solid construction, nice UI additions, good performance, and dual front speakers make would make this tablet worth a look (look first to make sure the screen is acceptable) for anyone spending around $130. Until then, there are other very worthy alternatives.

 
There are 27 comments

Deonix says:

How do they not see this? I am just surprised that the engineers who worked didn't come up with this error. (impossible not to, i think) So they shipped it nevertheless. This kind of elementar mistakes make Android tablets suffer overall.

Hi,

HERE IS THE SOLUTION FOR 500MB INTERNAL STORAGE SPACE TO 1.5GB

This is Abhi from India. I was not thinking about joining this forum. But brought a Lenovo Idea Tab A 1000 G device last week and was very disturbed with having only 500MB of Internal storage.

I got one update (around 90MB) settings >> About device >> System update , which did no much change to the device.

Another update released by Lenovo (4.2 MB size) was being very partial. Some countries were spared.
They didnt release it to Countries like India, Indonesia etc) . This UPDATE WILL SOLVE THE MEMORY PROBLEM AND INCREASE YOUR MEMORY TO 1.5 GB

SO, IF YOU GET THIS UPDATE, YOUR PROBLEM WILL BE SOLVED. SO HOW DID YOU GET THIS DOWNLOADED FROM INDIA (or any other country where there is not rleased yet) ?

I am VERY HAPPY to say that, from India (kerala, to be more precise), I was able to download the crusual 4.2MB update from here. Here are the steps I followed.

Step 1:
Turn on USB Debugging on your device and connect it with your windows pc.

Step 2:
Download a automatic rooting tool called Kingo Android Root to your windows PC. I got link by google searching for "Kingo Android Root"

I recommend this because, manual rooting will surely ruin your device since most of us are not much technically sound.

Step 3:
Once your device is detected by the Kingo tool, click the "Root" button. Wait patiently will take about 5 to 10 mins till the rooting finish.

WHILE ROOTING, I THINK THE SOFTWARE IS INSTALLING A LENOVO A1000 ROM WHICH IS MEANT FOR ANOTHER COUNTRY. THIS IS WHAT ENABLES US TO DOWNLOAD THE UPDATE

Step 4:
After successfull root (if yes), it will automatically restart the device. The restart this time may take a bit more longer. wait very patiently.

If this steps are complete, take a sigh of relief, you are almost done.

Steps 5:
Now once again, configure your WIFI CONNECTION (dont use 2g to download updates) and make sure in a browser that you are connected to internet.

Step 6:
Check for updates. SETTINGS >> ABOUT TABLET >> SYSTEM UPDATE. Most of you will be happy to see that a new update is there. Its around 4.2 MB in size. Download it and install.

(All personal info like call list, message and downloaded apps etc will be deleted, be sure to back it up if needed) it will automatically restart the device. The restart this time may take a bit more longer. wait very patiently.

Now go and check SETTINGS >> STORAGE.

You will be stunned to see that your storage increased to 1.49GB !! And after this update, the Root access be revoked and your device will be back to normal. (Unrooted and within warranty)

Try it, It worked for me. Good Luck.

Ice Man 1 says:

Thanks to abhivirtualstudios
I live in the uk and i did what you said in step 6
updated and yes i now have 1.49GB of storage
thanks too this info from abhivirtualstudios

NickA says:

I wish manufactures that know nothing about tablets would stop making them. As @Deonix said, how could they not see this. They have no understanding of the market and how people use their tablets.

Leave the tablet making to the big boys.

mackattk says:

You would think this would have come up in testing. How could they not test a game or any app that would exceed 100mb?

Hi,

HERE IS THE SOLUTION FOR 500MB INTERNAL STORAGE SPACE TO 1.5GB

This is Abhi from India. I was not thinking about joining this forum. But brought a Lenovo Idea Tab A 1000 G device last week and was very disturbed with having only 500MB of Internal storage.

I got one update (around 90MB) settings >> About device >> System update , which did no much change to the device.

Another update released by Lenovo (4.2 MB size) was being very partial. Some countries were spared.
They didnt release it to Countries like India, Indonesia etc) . This UPDATE WILL SOLVE THE MEMORY PROBLEM AND INCREASE YOUR MEMORY TO 1.5 GB

SO, IF YOU GET THIS UPDATE, YOUR PROBLEM WILL BE SOLVED. SO HOW DID YOU GET THIS DOWNLOADED FROM INDIA (or any other country where there is not rleased yet) ?

I am VERY HAPPY to say that, from India (kerala, to be more precise), I was able to download the crusual 4.2MB update from here. Here are the steps I followed.

Step 1:
Turn on USB Debugging on your device and connect it with your windows pc.

Step 2:
Download a automatic rooting tool called Kingo Android Root to your windows PC. I got link by google searching for "Kingo Android Root"

I recommend this because, manual rooting will surely ruin your device since most of us are not much technically sound.

Step 3:
Once your device is detected by the Kingo tool, click the "Root" button. Wait patiently will take about 5 to 10 mins till the rooting finish.

WHILE ROOTING, I THINK THE SOFTWARE IS INSTALLING A LENOVO A1000 ROM WHICH IS MEANT FOR ANOTHER COUNTRY. THIS IS WHAT ENABLES US TO DOWNLOAD THE UPDATE

Step 4:
After successfull root (if yes), it will automatically restart the device. The restart this time may take a bit more longer. wait very patiently.

If this steps are complete, take a sigh of relief, you are almost done.

Steps 5:
Now once again, configure your WIFI CONNECTION (dont use 2g to download updates) and make sure in a browser that you are connected to internet.

Step 6:
Check for updates. SETTINGS >> ABOUT TABLET >> SYSTEM UPDATE. Most of you will be happy to see that a new update is there. Its around 4.2 MB in size. Download it and install.

(All personal info like call list, message and downloaded apps etc will be deleted, be sure to back it up if needed) it will automatically restart the device. The restart this time may take a bit more longer. wait very patiently.

Now go and check SETTINGS >> STORAGE.

You will be stunned to see that your storage increased to 1.49GB !! And after this update, the Root access be revoked and your device will be back to normal. (Unrooted and within warranty)

Try it, It worked for me. Good Luck.

Johnny Z says:

Cheap Chinese IBM crap

Posted via Android Central App

gauravbh1 says:

IBM has got nothing to do with lenovo tablets. IBM sold their PCbusiness to lenovo years ago.

Tina Thomson says:

The product is fine and android Jelly Bean 4.1 works faster. It is powered with 1.2 GHz MTK8317 dual core processor that runs on Android Jelly Bean 4.1 operating system. The display is 7 inch capacitive touchscreen with 1024 x 600 pixels. The audio quality has been enhanced by the Dolby Digital technology with dual stereo speakers. The A1000 is low price and within everyone's budget.
To buy click here - http://www.flipkart.com/lenovo-idea-tab-a1000-tablet/p/itmdtgc5bg8qkwzt?...

norsairius says:

My HTC EVO 4G LTE Alphabet Soup phone does something similar. 16 GB storage with about 6 GB allocated to "App Storage" and the rest for "Phone Storage." Phone storage holds things like music, pics etc. What boggles my mind is why they needed to be partitioned separately. I'm not familiar with how Android works, so maybe it was necessary (but I don't know why).

In any case, it's really annoying. Games take up a lot of space and that 6 GB was filled up fast. I had to manually move apps to the phone storage to free up space so they could even update after getting too many "Insufficient storage available" errors. It's an inconvenience that destracts from the user experience.

MarkSeven says:

My HTC Rezound is the same way.. I think even less as a matter of fact. HTC does alot of idiotic stuff.

This is not a new limitation to the Android os. It is one of the trade offs to having SD cards and one of the main reasons that Google did away with them for nexus devices.

Posted via Android Central App

NoNexus says:

your right and wrong

The part your right about is that this is built into Android when there is an SD card
THe part you are wrong with is that they did this to INTERNAL storage. Totally a developer decision and a poor one at that obviously. This has nothing to do with the SD card

NoNexus says:

@casey

Does this have three partitions? 2 for the internal cluster mess and one for the sdcard.?

If so, that brings a whole new level of Wtf?

Posted via Android Central App

First, read this http://www.androidcentral.com/why-nexus-devices-have-no-sd-card

Then go educate yourself on Android partitions. The only reason to create a separate partition for internal storage for apps is if a manufacturer wants to offer SD cards as a storage option.

It is impossible to guess what will be the app data storage needs for any given user. The best you can do is to reserve a large portion of the storage and hope they don't fill up during the course of normal use. Of course if you do that then you end up with this issue http://www.androidcentral.com/bbc-watchdog-investigate-samsung-galaxy-s4... .

chowdog13 says:

Why wouldn't you just spend $70 more for a nexus 7. This baffles me. There is no reason for anyone to get a bad tablet when $200 nets you a nexus 7 or $230 for the 2nd gen.

Posted via Android Central App

MarkSeven says:

If it woulda had a better screen and the storage problem fixed before production this woulda been a decent contender at that price point. Front facing speakers are always a plus. Too bad.

sequoia462 says:

Anyone who buys this unknowing before they implement a fix will likely want to return it asap. Lenovo should make it a priority to fix it fast, otherwise this tablet is garbage. Anyone who had an old phone with limited internal storage knows the frustrations of not having enough space.

I agree with other commenters that if an OEM cannot be bothered to understand the market for a product they should just stay out of the market. Things like this are just fodder for the ongoing pathetic mobile OS arguments (who's is best).

vic6string says:

Epic Fail! This is like Ford coming out with a car that gets 100 mpg, that looks reasonably nice, but that has welded on rims and tires that deflate monthly. It is inconceivable to me that this thing got past the first day of beta testing, much less quality control with this bug. Unfortunately, this is the type of device that pushes people to Apple devices. It is like those horrible budget tablets that have no access to the Google Play store. The sad thing is, Lenovo is not some little fly-by-night garbage tech company... this is inexcusable from a major vendor.

anny official words from lenovo itself?

crxssi says:

>"Low internal memory allocation causes errors resulting in the inability to install more than a few apps"

The word you are looking for is "storage", not "memory". In computers, "memory" = "RAM".

T68 says:

Hello Casey and AC! Any more official news from Lenovo regarding pushing a fix to partition memory in a more wise way?

T68 says:

http://forums.lenovo.com/t5/IdeaPad-IdeaTab-Slate-Tablets/A1000-F-runnin...

Hi again!
Dug around a bit and apparently there is an uptdate out that will re-partition memory and give 1.5 g for app install!

It's mentioned in this forum thread at lenovo.com. Se link above.

vonnieglen says:

We bought one recently at Office Depot and after I installed the latest updates it is now showing 3gigs for app install. I didn't realize that it had GPS built in... so I am very happy about that. I had a couple of apps that I like that didn't want to install through the Google Play, but was able to download the APKs through the developers websites and install them without any problems.

I did purchase an extended "disaster" warranty for $15 because someone said on one of the forums that they started having trouble with the buttons after a couple of months.

It is too bad that they had this software glitch coming out of the gate because overall I am very happy with this tablet. I have been using a Sprint Galaxy Tab 7 for the past couple of years. So far this compares very favorably to it in just about every way.

Hi,

Recently i have purchased leonovo tab A 1000.
As you have mentioned above regarding internal storage is around 16 GB, but my tab has got 4 GB only, is there any software update should require to get 16 GB or by default it comes with 16 GB.
Plz let me know about the storage...

Rv Lamba says:

plzzz dude internal storage RAM ki problem quickly solve kardoo I want 2 download a game 2 play but couldn't becoz of dis bloooddyy problem...!!!! :(