A Modern Tablet for Everyone - Review of the Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus

I remember back in 2013, tablet computers were "da bomb", and were selling like hotcakes. Apple had announced the 4th Generation of their iPad, and the competitiveness of the market was almost at its peak. Almost every consumer device manufacturer had a lineup of tablet-based products for the market. Consumers thought that a tablet computer will be a PC replacement device for their entertainment needs, but it seems that this was not the case.

Just barely 5 years down the road in 2018, there is barely any mention of new tablets on the market. Manufacturers have learned it the hard way as they realised that the slow upgrade cycle of tablet devices, together with the dwindling sales, have proven the dwindling popularity of such devices. As budgets in the segments were cut worsen the situation, as there was no real breakthrough or innovation in technology for such tablet devices. Moreover, large screen smartphones and convertible Windows devices are also still cannibalizing the market share from tablets. It seems that the tablet market is paved for failure.


To be frank, it has been quite a while since we last saw a new Android tablet from a major PC manufacturer. The Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus brought in new life to the Singapore market, targeting at those who wants a portable large screen device for their entertainment and perhaps productivity needs. The brand has also let in some velocity to the slowing market segment, as the new Tab 4 8 Plus boasts some new and interesting features that we have never seen before on tablets. Perhaps, the momentum for tablet innovation is fueled by advancements in smartphone technologies, or it could also be due to the similarity in concepts and usage scenarios.

The Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus is a 8 inch Android tablet device for the mainstream market segment. Even though it is priced to be affordable, Lenovo did not skimp on the overall build quality, design and hardware for this device. Its premium build quality uniquely distinguishes the tablet apart from any other tablet devices out in the market, establishing the brand identity for Lenovo. The focus on intricacies and user experience has amazed us for a device of such value. Here's how they did it.


1. Design and Specifications



The Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus is surely an attention seeker. We had a very good first impression of the device thanks to its exceptional aesthetics. The exterior of the device is composed of the reflective glass rear of the device - a feature that only appears in premium high-end devices. While this tablet doesn't compete in the game of thin bezels/large screen to body ratio, it still managed to attain a rather classy refined look from the front.


The new device from Lenovo is equipped with one of the most popular mobile chipset in the market. With the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 chipset, the Tab 4 8 Plus is powered with an Octa-core A53 ARM Cortex processor and Adreno 506 GPU that promises great performance, without the expense of heavy consumption on battery life. Speaking of battery life, the 4,850mAh battery in the tablet is slated to help you with your daily needs of productivity and entertainment with a single charge. The built-in 4GB of RAM should also be more than enough for any typical use cases as well.


2. Secured and Easy sharing of device


Lenovo markets the Tab 4 8 Plus as "A premium 8" tablet for the whole family". With multi-account capabilities, members in the family sharing the same tablet device can have personalized accounts created with their own password, settings, wallpaper and social media accounts. The tablet can even intelligently identify users based solely on the fingerprint used when unlocking the device and apply the respective user settings accordingly. There's even a guest option available!

Side Fingerprint Sensor

This feature greatly enhances privacy for individuals and makes the Tab 4 8 Plus a tablet device that you probably don't mind sharing.


3. Complete Entertainment Experience


Most of the times, tablet computers are used for media consumption. You are likely to prefer watching videos off the larger screen device, as compared to a smaller smartphone. Of course, the performance of the speakers on a media device also plays a huge role towards the whole entertainment experience.

We were glad that the Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus faired quite well in this aspect. The device is equipped with an IPS Full HD 1920 x 1200 display, which presented native HD videos nicely on the device. With such a high pixel density, we were also able to fully immerse ourselves in the usage of the tablet, rather than getting annoyed by pixelated displays which are common in tablets of the same price point and category. The colours off the screen are considerably good, and definitely great for both media consumption as well as any kind of productivity or social media usage.


The Tab 4 8 Plus also certified to be compatible with Dolby Atmos technology. This means that its stereo speakers are capable of producing simulated virtual sound profiles and environments for the ultimate movie experience. The difference in such speakers is apparent, especially with the demonstration content that were provided on the tablet device.  However, not many videos are available in the compatible format. Additionally, such technology could be deemed more as a gimmick, rather than providing actual good experience.

Even though we do appreciate the inclusion of stereo speakers on the device, we felt that the audio quality of the speakers can be improved. The speakers failed to identify itself in terms of its sound profile. Colloquially speaking, it's indeed "neither here or there". There was a lack of depth in sounds throughout all frequencies, regardless of the type of audio content. To be honest, it all sounded rather flat. Luckily, Lenovo still have the 3.5mm audio jack to salvage the situation.


4. Hi again, 3.5mm Audio Jack and MicroSD Card Slot!

Long Live 3.5mm Audio Jack!

Well, no entertainment device can be complete without a 3.5mm headphone jack. Luckily, Lenovo was still able to incorporate the 3.5mm jack for your favourite high end headphones or speakers.

What we really loved about this new tablet is its support for MicroSD expansion. If you are seeking for a really good deal, you could probably go with a cheaper 16GB version and upgrade the device with a MicroSD card of your choice.

Supports Single SIM, Dual SIM, or Single SIM + MicroSD Card


5. Stay Connected Wherever you are

Ultra-Fast Wireless AC Wi-Fi on the Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus
While we always treat tablets as portable devices, many manufacturers like to leave out cellular options for the offerings. On the other hand, regardless of SKUs, the Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus comes with built in 4G capabilities, allowing for data transmission speeds of up to 300Mbps. It's also extremely quick with its built-in Wi-Fi module, which managed to attain speeds of over 250Mbps based on a simple SpeedTest benchmark over a Gigabit network.


6. Takes fine photos

Tab 4 8 Plus
HTC U11
Tab 4 8 Plus

HTC U11
Based on our previous experience with other tablet computers, we can say that the Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus takes pretty fine photos. The tablet is able to quickly focus on objects and is responsive to shutter triggers. The quality of the images produced by the Tab 4 8 Plus was on par with mainstream smartphones, as they appear sharp, albeit in a slightly softer tone.


Areas of Improvements

Despite of all the good features and designs that defines the Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus, there are also some distinct annoyances during the usage of the device, which really affected the whole user experience.

Annoying Advertisements on
Stock File Manager
Firstly, the placement of the fingerprint sensor on the side of device can lead to many non-intended failure of device authentication, which will result in the user account getting locked out. Due to the large size of the tablet device, users are bound to touch fingerprint sensor on the side. The design and placement of the fingerprint sensor with the power button also makes it very easy to accidentally put the device to sleep as well. Although we know that this can be avoided once users can used to it, perhaps a better placement of the fingerprint sensor could be well thought of, so as to prevent such incidents from happening.

Secondly, one of the most unacceptable attribute of the Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus is that the default stock software comes with built in advertisements. This can turn users off, as they will have to wait for the adverts to end, before actually getting to what they need to do. It makes customers wonder if the product that they purchased is "truly their own", as one could be constantly fed with advertisement from applications that are installed right out of the box.

Thirdly, as Lenovo wants a very clean Android experience on the Tab 4 8 Plus, some tradeoffs have to be taken. Don't be mistaken, as we do love the clean and snappy Android system on this device, but we do also miss some advance features that will be available on advanced and customized software. For example, the tablet's camera app is strictly limited to take photos. There isn't any way to play with more advanced options such as on-the-fly exposure, changing of shutter speed etc.


Conclusion

The Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus is a great Android tablet device to own. Its modern sleek design and premium attributes invigorates the definition of a tablet device in 2017/2018. Lenovo's focus on bringing the latest smartphone technologies into the tablet is welcomed, but we also see the need to get the basics right in the first place. It can be a choice of device for media consumption with Dolby Atmos standard, but it is held back by its poor speaker performance. The device can be more secure as compared to other tablet devices with the introduction of a fingerprint sensor, but it also brings about some annoyance because of the placement of the sensor.

Nonetheless, the Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus is a definite choice for users who engages with media consumption on the go (with headphones on). It's affordable price range for the basic model prevents us from not recommending it to anyone seeking for a new tablet device. However, we also took note that the device is far from perfect, and we hope that Lenovo will take into account our comments to create a better tablet product in the future.

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