Lenovo’s Android Tablet Story: Netflix, Storage and a Pen

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The Android tablet market is getting saturated to the point where we’ve seen almost everything, from thin-and-light beauties to port-packed workhorses, but Lenovo’s still trying to squeeze a few more ideas out of this generation of tech specs.

To begin with, Lenovo has decided that consumers and business users have different needs, and so the company has split its Android offerings into two tablets. In one corner, we have the IdeaPad K1 (pictured above), with its rounded edges and light frame suggesting that it’s here for leisure, mostly. In the other, we have the ThinkPad Tablet (pictured below), which is all business in its sharp black frame with a somewhat puzzling set of hardware navigation buttons. (Android Honeycomb builds navigation into the software.)

Lenovo’s K1 and ThinkPad will be the first Netflix-certified Android Honeycomb tablets, allowing for playback on TVs and other big screens through mini-HDMI output. But don’t expect this exclusivity to last; Netflix just updated its app to support more smartphones, and crafty users have already side-loaded the app onto several tablets.

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The K1’s other standout feature is storage. While most tablets in the $500 price range come with 16 GB of storage, the $499 K1 has 32 GB on board. Otherwise, there’s not a lot to rave about on paper. Weight and thickness are roughly on par with an original iPad, and after witnessing the generous connectivity options of Toshiba’s Thrive, the K1’s combination of microSD and full-size USB doesn’t seem like a breakthrough. At least Lenovo’s bundling $50 worth of apps — not trialware, I presume — including Angry Birds and Documents to Go.

The ThinkPad, priced at $479 for a 16 GB model, is loaded with features that’ll put most consumers to sleep, like corporate-level software pre-loading, corporate-controlled app stores and Citrix app virtualization. But an optional $30 active digitizer pen that converts notes into text, along with a full SD card slot, might make the ThinkPad worth considering outside of work. Like its consumer-focused sibling, the ThinkPad has a weight and thickness that’s closer to a first-generation iPad at 1.65 pounds and 0.52 inches thick. Both tablets also have dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processors.

(MORE: Lenovo May Unveil a 23-inch Tablet This Year)

Frankly, I don’t find myself writhing with anticipation over either tablet, but maybe that’s not the point. As with the PC market, a saturation of Android tablets with slightly different configurations simply means that prospective buyers are more like to find the one that fits their needs. If you demand lots of storage and Netflix support or digital pen for accurate note-taking, Lenovo will have you covered starting this August.

Product Page: Lenovo Tablets