Dolby Atmos technology is used in top-end soundbars to bounce sound off your ceiling and deliver a spacious surround sound effect. So, it comes as a surprise to see it included in a tablet, such as the Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus.
The technology used for tablets and mobile devices, isn’t as revolutionary as its soundbar counterpart, but the improved audio fidelity is still impressive. Does it sound as good as it looks, read on to see if the £200 tablet competes with some of the best budget tablets in the market.
Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus review: What you need to know
Atmos sound isn’t an end to the Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus’ talents, though. It’s also equipped with a fingerprint reader, has an octa-core CPU, 3GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, all topped with a crisp 1,200 x 1,920 8in display. On paper, this Android tablet seems to offer reasonably good value for money. It’s nicely designed and that fingerprint reader is an unusual addition for a product this cheap, but there’s strong opposition in this price bracket and below, in particular from Amazon’s 7in, 8in and 10in Fire HD tablets.
Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus review: Price and competition
There are multiple versions of the Tab 4 8 Plus: the 16GB Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus, which costs £200 and a 64GB version for £50 extra. It’s available in two colours: “Aurora Black” and “Sparkling White” and there’s also a 4G variant at around £280, but that seems to be a lot harder to source.
It isn’t short on competition. At this price, you can find a used or refurbished Apple iPad mini 2 (check out eBay or MusicMagpie); at £129 there’s the Vodafone Smart Tab N8, which comes with 4G connectivity; and for less than £200, there’s the 10.1in Amazon Fire HD 10, the 8in £80 Amazon Fire HD 8, and the 7in £50 Fire.
The 8in Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 at £170, and 10.1in Acer Iconia A3-A40 at £180 are also viable alternatives, too.
Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus review: Design and build quality
The Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus’ two forward-facing speaker grilles are the first features that caught my attention. As mentioned above, the tablet supports Dolby Atmos through and it works wonders with the tablet’s audio output.
Four sound profiles are available – you can choose between Movie, Music, Game and Voice – and you can customise the sound as well. Normally, I wouldn’t bother with presets because in my experience they have little benefit. Here, however, I was pleasantly surprised, and each one had a positive effect on the listening experience.
Through the modes listed above, I found that music sounded richer, movies and games benefited from a wider sound, while podcasts sounded much clearer. Bear in mind that this is still tablet-class sound, so there’s little bass to speak of, but for such a small device its audio output is impressive.
It’s not only the audio quality that’s good, though. The Tab 4 8 Plus is also an elegantly designed tablet. At 7mm thick and 300g, the Tab 4 8 Plus is a very thin and lightweight device to carry around, its rounded edges make it comfortable to hold and its dual-glass design gives it a premium look.
One of its key features is its fingerprint reader, built into the power button, which sits alongside the volume rocker on the right-hand side of the tablet. I found the location perfect for unlocking the device, but it isn’t particularly reliable and only on rare occasions did the fingerprint reader work on the first try.
Often, I had to try three times, at which point I opted to input my pin. I’ve never had to faff around this much with a fingerprint reader – for example, my Huawei P9 smartphone unlocks instantaneously. Don’t get me wrong, having it is a definitive plus but I’d want it to work more reliably than that.
For connectivity, there’s a USB Type-C port for data transfers and power. A 3.5mm headphone jack sits alongside it, at the top of the tablet. The tablet has dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2. On the left-hand side, a microSD card slot sits under a plastic, Lenovo-branded flap.
If you want to take a picture, there are front 5- and rear 8-megapixel cameras and a flash on the rear to help out in low light. You can record video at 1080p at 30fps. Image quality isn’t the best, but it does suffice for the odd quick snap and Skype session.
Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus review: Display
The tablet has an 8in 1,200 x 1,920 IPS display, which gives it a 283ppi pixel density. Tested with our colorimeter, I observed a 59.2% sRGB gamut coverage, which is rather low. By comparison, the much cheaper Vodafone Smart Tab N8 achieved 75.7% sRGB coverage.
This means images won’t look as vibrant on the Lenovo as they would on the Vodafone tablet and I wasn’t too impressed with its colour accuracy either. Still with a contrast ratio of 728:1, movies and photos still look reasonable punchy onscreen and with a peak brightness of 417.6 cd/m2, the display will remain readable in all but the brightest of conditions.
Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus review: Performance
The Tab 4 doesn’t run stock Android but its installation of Android 7.1.1 is pretty clean and with only a few pre-installed apps – such as SHAREit, an app used to send and receive files between devices, and SYNCit, which is used for synchronizing files across devices, plus the Microsoft Office apps – it runs smoothly.
Inside, you’ll find a 2.0GHz octa-core Cortex-A53-based Snapdragon 625 processor and 3GB of RAM. This provides enough horsepower to churn through intensive processes and multitasking. In the multi-platform Geekbench 4 benchmark, the Tab 4 8 Plus achieves a 873 single-core and 4,220 multi-core score. The Vodafone Smart Tab N8 only manages a score of 461 and 1,319 respectively – a sizable difference in multi-core performance.
Playing basic games like Candy Crush isn’t a problem, but don’t expect to run more demanding titles such as Asphalt 8 smoothly. In the GFXBench Car Chase benchmark, the Tab 4 8 Plus manages to run at 3.4fps. In the less intense Manhattan 3.0 benchmark, it achieves a slightly more respectable score of 9.3fps, but that’s still not wonderful.
^ Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus battery life
A non-removable 4,850mAh battery is housed inside, and this ran for 9hrs 43mins in the Expert Reviews battery test – identical to the Vodafone Smart Tab N8. That’s fine for a tablet like this, but it does lag behind the impressive 14hrs 49mins achieved by the Lenovo Yoga Tab 3.
Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus review: Verdict
At first glance, the Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus seemed to be a fantastic device. With an integrated fingerprint reader, two front-facing Dolby Atmos speakers and splendid design, I had high hopes for it.
But with a rather finicky fingerprint reader, sluggish performance in games and middling battery life it’s not the best way to spend your £200. If you’re after a cheap tablet, the Amazon Fire HD 8 is far cheaper and offers almost as much for your money and, if you don’t like the Amazon way of doing things, there’s the Vodafone Smart Tab N8, which offers 4G connectivity for a mere £129.
2.0GHz Octa-core Cortex-A53 Snapdragon 625
|Screen resolution||1200 x 1920|
|Front camera||5 megapixels|
|Rear camera||8 megapixels|
|Memory card slot (supplied)||MicroSD (256GB)|
|Dimensions||210 x 123 x 7mm|
|Operating system||Android 7.1.1|
|Warranty||One year RTB|
|Price SIM-free (inc VAT)||£200|
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