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Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus and Home Assistant Pack review: A middling tablet is a poor Alexa speaker

It is protected to mention that Android pills won’t ever be a factor. It is more secure to mention the Lenovo Tab four Eight Plus and the House Assistant Pack won’t ever substitute any individual’s Echo house speaker.

It is arduous to determine Lenovo’s technique right here. Whilst Apple has carved out a pleasing area of interest with the iPad, and Chromebook makers are starting to experiment with keyboard-less fashions, Android-based pills by no means in point of fact stuck on with enthusiasts of the platform who have been content material with the use of their larger-screened telephones to get issues carried out.

However Lenovo has nevertheless plugged away with making pills, maximum not too long ago with the Tab four Eight Plus. Breaking down the unwieldly title, that is the fourth-generation of Lenovo’s Tab line, with an Eight-inch 1920 x 1200 show. In a different way the specifications are decidedly not up to plus-sized:

  • Processor: Snapdragon 625
  • Reminiscence: 2GB
  • Garage: 16GB
  • OS: Android Nougat 7.1
  • Rear digicam: Eight MP auto center of attention
  • Entrance digicam: five MP fastened center of attention
  • Audio system: Twin front-facing audio system with Dolby Atmos

For $230, then again, the Tab four Eight Plus (OK I will prevent writing that now) is not a nasty pill in any respect. However it is not an excellent one both. There are massive bezels and seams throughout and an oddly located USB-C port. Its digicam is not price writing about. The most efficient function of the Tab four is the display screen, which is retina high quality and a sight higher than maximum different Eight-inch “HD” pills with 1280 X 800 monitors. But it surely selections up fingerprints very simply and its shiny veneer makes it very tricky to learn in vibrant or overhead lighting fixtures.

Energy environment friendly however now not robust

The pill is working Android Nugget without a indication from Lenovo that an Oreo replace is coming anytime quickly, however at this level who cares? Whilst Oreo’s picture-in-picture can be great on a pill, the Tab four’s split-screen talents will have to be sufficient for multitaskers. But even so, the Tab four’s Snapdragon 625 processor is a ways from the speediest, so you can be easiest to stay with gentle duties.

lenovo tab 4 ports speakersMichael Simon/IDG

The audio system at the Lenovo Tab four Eight Plus have Dolby Atmos strengthen and sound nice.

Whilst efficiency is eh, battery lifestyles is superb, with robust screen-on and screen-off efficiency. Streaming a 2-hour film over Netflix value simply 17 p.c of the Tab four’s battery lifestyles, and it slightly misplaced any juice when in standby mode for days. The front-facing Dolby Atmos audio system sounded implausible when observing mentioned film. It is usually supplied with a SIM slot for LTE, a pleasing addition for a cheapish pill.

Lenovo hasn’t carried out an excessive amount of to change the Android pill enjoy, however there are two notable app additions. The primary is Kidoz, which helps you to arrange a brand new person with a kid profile that launches kid-friendly setting with time and content material restrictions. The candy-colored interface is geared extra towards little toddlers than tweens, however it is nevertheless a just right instrument for fogeys who wouldn’t have time to appear over their youngsters’ shoulders when they are taking part in on their pill.

lenovo tab 4 kidsMichael Simon/IDG

Tots will love the Kidoz app at the Lenovo Tab four Eight Plus.

The opposite is the Lenovo Alexa app, and it is right here the place the Tab four tries to set itself with the exception of the remainder of the Eight-inch Android pill crowd. Whilst the app itself is an ordinary porthole to Amazon’s AI assistant with strengthen for a number of languages, the Tab four may be appropriate with Lenovo’s $80 House Assistant Pack, which turns your pill right into a hands-free sensible speaker with a display screen.

Neatly, more or less.

A dock with smarts

By itself, the House Assistant Pack is a neat instrument. Since it is made to suit all of Lenovo’s Tab four pills and so they all have other connectors, it comes with swappable ports (micro USB and USB-C) and a swivel base that guarantees the pill’s right kind orientation.

lenovo home assistant connectionMichael Simon/IDG

Lenovo’s House Assistant Pack features a swappable port for every of the Tab four fashions.

Status about 7.five inches tall and that includes a 360-degree grill, the speaker portion of the dock appears to be like one thing like an Amazon Faucet, and at 300 grams, it is not a lot heavier than Amazon’s transportable speaker both. The House Assistant Pack cradles the Tab four horizontally, so it’s kind of flimsy, although it does relaxation firmly on a table or counter (so long as you do not contact it). The silver USB-C port it is hooked up to is unpleasant and distracting and constantly made me assume the Tab four wasn’t correctly hooked up. A transfer on the most sensible allows you to mute Alexa’s microphones, and an ordinary 12-volt plug concurrently powers the speaker and costs the pill, so you can by no means have to fret about it working out of juice.

When hooked up to the dock, the display screen switches to the Alexa app (after a caution notification about the use of the microphone), so you can handiest have to the touch the display screen to tweak the settings or get right of entry to Android right kind, however that more or less defeats the aim. The House Assistant Pack is supposed to show your pill into the display screen of an Amazon’s Echo Display.

lenovo tab 4 alexa muteMichael Simon/IDG

You’ll be able to mute Alexa’s microphone’s by means of tapping the highest button like on an Echo.

To that finish, the dock’s speaker is provided with a couple of far-field microphones so it is all the time listening for the tell-tale wake phrase, Alexa (which cannot be modified). That is a downgrade from the seven microphones throughout the Echo and 8 throughout the Echo Display, so you can want to be somewhat shut for it to listen to you (or even then, it is more or less hit and miss). As soon as it hears you, the display screen activates and a blue bar on the backside allows you to comprehend it’s able to reply to your command.

A display screen does not upload a lot

Alexa at the Tab four does most commonly the whole lot Alexa on an Echo does (the brand new customized Blueprints don’t seem to be supported but), however you can want to use the separate Amazon Alexa app to obtain any talents for your account. The app does not come pre-installed, then again, so Alexa rookies shall be at a loss for words by means of the Lenovo app’s loss of route.

lenovo tab 4 alexa screenMichael Simon/IDG

Alexa’s splash display screen is beautiful lame and you’ll’t customise it.

You’ll be able to choose to stay the display screen on all the time, however in contrast to Amazon’s Echo Display or Spot, which presentations a rotating set of informative monitors, there may be not anything right here rather than the standing and navigation bars, an image of a espresso mug, and the phrases “Ask Alexa” in the midst of the display screen. With out an approach to exchange the image or upload a outstanding clock, there is no reason why to stay the display screen on when now not in use.

Issues are a bit higher when it has one thing to do. When Alexa solutions a question reminiscent of a climate document or the capital of Norway, the Tab four presentations a pleasing graphic that sticks round till the following command is issued. Tune is represented by means of an image of the album, however for those who have been hoping to make use of your House Assistant Pack as a karaoke device just like the Echo Display or Spot, I’ve unhealthy information: the Tab four does not show lyrics. Sound high quality is on par with a normal Echo, which is to mention it is treble-heavy and tinny.

Must you purchase a Tab four Eight Plus and a House Assistant Pack?

General, Alexa at the Tab four Eight Plus with the House Assistant Pack is not as good as the Echo Dot. Echoes in other rooms often responded before the Tab 4, and when it did, it answered slightly slower than the other Echoes in my house. Plus it’s awkwardly large for a counter or a nightstand.

lenovo tab 4 glossyMichael Simon/IDG

The screen on the Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus is good, but it picks up light and fingerprints.

On its own, the Tab 4 is a fine tablet for $230, with a retina screen, excellent battery life, and LTE. But Android on tablets still pales in comparison to the experience on phones, and the Tab 4 is no exception. You’re probably better off buying a Chromebook and an Echo Dot for around the same price. Many of the newer Chromebook models can run Android apps and Chrome OS is light-years better than tablet Android. And the Tab 4’s screen doesn’t really add much to the Alexa experience.

If you’re dead-set on getting an 8-inch tablet and really want to use it as a hands-free Alexa speaker when you’re not watching movies or reading 2-star reviews on PCWorld, then you’ll probably be happy with the Tab 4 8 Plus with the Home Assistant Pack. For everyone else, there are better ways to spend $300.

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