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The sub-$200 IdeaPad A1 Android tablet from Lenovo

Perhaps you missed out on that $99 fire sale on the HP TouchPad or you don’t want to try and hack Android onto that device. Whatever the case, the elusive “cheap tablet” is still eluding you. Well, maybe you have an option here in the form of the Lenovo IdeaPad A1. After all, it carries an MSRP of just $199.

So, what do you get for half the price of an Eee Pad Transformer? The IdeaPad A1 comes with a 7-inch 1024×600 display and runs on Android 2.3 Gingerbread. The hope is that you’ll be able to upgrade to 2.4 Ice Cream Sandwich when that becomes available, but that’s very much in the air. The other thing that’s up in the air is Market support. I can’t seem to tell whether this is “officially” supported by Google and, thus, whether you can get into Android Market.

If not, you’re mostly stuck with the pre-loaded apps, plus any apps that might be available through a Lenovo-specific repository. One nice feature is that the IdeaPad A1 has offline GPS, complete with offline maps. This is great when you are traveling and don’t have an international data plan (or don’t want to get gouged with roaming fees). There’s also something called Lenovo Social Touch, an interface for integrating your email and social networking activity. This concept, of course, has already been explored by other tablet and smartphone makers.

In the end, it looks like the A1 will sit on par with something like the old Galaxy Tab (not the 7.7 or 10.1). It also doesn’t help that Lenovo isn’t forthcoming with info about the processor, so this could be as slow as molasses too.

About Michael Kwan

A freelance writer and tech geek from Vancouver. Find me at michaelkwan.com and follow me on Twitter @michaelkwan.

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