If you need a screen size bigger than the average smartphone but don’t require an extra-large, singing and dancing tablet, there are affordable units on the market such as the Lenovo Smart Tab M8 that will do the job nicely. These types of devices aren’t designed to perform processor-intensive tasks, but they are very handy and cost-effective solutions for the simpler tasks in life. They also function well as second screens, photo viewers, or just devices for general browsing and reading up on the latest photography techniques.
The specifications on the latest model provide slightly better performance than before. But is the unit worth the initial outlay, and how does it compare against the rest of the competition?
The Lenovo Smart Tab M8 is clearly a well-made unit, with a solid metal back and narrow bezels that give it a more upmarket feel. The control buttons are located on the right of the device, with an easy-to-access microSD card reader. There is also a very useful 3.5mm audio jack included, with a microphone output located at the bottom of the device. It’s quite a lightweight tablet, coming in at only 305g, making it one of the more lightweight solutions on the market.
Internally, the Lenovo houses a Mediatek Helio A22 MT6762M chipset, with 2GB of RAM and a PowerVR-GE8320 GPU graphics processor. The internal flash storage comes in at 32GB, which can be further expanded to 2TB with an external microSD card.
The device runs on Android Pie 9.0, and comes pre-installed with a bunch of third-party and Lenovo apps. There are features such as a tablet assist app for performing lots of general android functions, along with a tablet manager for basic maintenance. If you want to hand the device over to the children, a kids mode has been included with its own special interface.
Although the device can’t directly connect to a mobile network, it can connect via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth with reasonably fast connection speeds. The GPS facilities are very accurate, which is handy for those occasions when you are on location for a landscape or wildlife shoot.
The device also comes with the prerequisite cameras, which features a 5MP rear version and a 2MP front-facing camera.
The Lenovo Smart Tab M8 in Use
The two cameras included with the device are good enough for basic snapshots, but they won’t take the place of more expensive units. The front-facing camera is better served as something like a FaceTime device, while the rear camera can be quickly used to capture compositions of a scene or quickly judging a location.
Although the exposure parameters can be manually tweaked in the settings menu, images still seem to be a little underexposed for the most part, with noise easily creeping in when the light levels slightly drop.
The output in this regard is the same for video. But at least the facilities are there for when you need to capture some impromptu footage.
Input and Output Handling
Some older tablets suffered from having to beat on the screen to input any type of text like a death metal drummer in the middle of a drum solo. The Lenovo, on the other hand, is very responsive to its virtual keyboard and is seamless to use with drag-and-drop movements.
The eight-inch display panel provides a 1280×800 MP resolution with reasonable levels of brightness, but no brightness sensor is included. The contrast levels are particularly good for this price of the device at 1805:1, with options to choose different color profiles and color modes which include standard, warm, and cold. The screen is also best viewed in shaded conditions as it’s quite reflective, although the viewing angle is very good. Content can be seen from all angles as long as bright light isn’t shining on the surface of the screen.
With just 2GB of RAM on hand and a reasonable graphics processor, the Lenovo can handle simple gaming with a very reactive touchscreen, but nothing too intensive. Simple image editing can be easily performed, but this will also depend on each individual application. However, the Lenovo is best used as a viewing device with extensive edits left to be performed on more powerful machines.
In terms of energy consumption, the internal battery provides one of the best usage times with over 18 hours available with simple use. The included USB AC adapter can provide constant energy to the device but doesn’t have any type of quick charging functionality. This means with the five-hour full recharge time, it’s best left overnight to fully power up.
How Does It Compare?
When it comes to small, cost-effective tablets, the market seems to be littered with affordable choices. However, like any computing device, it’s better to stick with well-known brands for the peace of mind of build quality, functionality, and tablet features for work. One popular choice is the Amazon Fire HD 8, which has largely the same specifications on paper as the Lenovo.
The Amazon device has solid basic functionality but falls down with having very average cameras. The screen resolution is the same on both devices, with the same levels of storage, but the battery life is that bit better on the Lenovo. For overall performance, the Lenovo is a little better, with both units coming in at very reasonable price points above more expensive options like the iPad Pro 12.9.
|Lenovo Smart Tab M8||Amazon Fire HD 8|
|OS||Android Pie 9||Android Pie 9|
|Screen Size||8 inches||8 inches|
|Camera||5MP Rear, 2MP Front||2MP Rear, 2MP Front|
Final Pros and Cons of the Lenovo Smart Tab M8
Considering the final price of the Lenovo Tab M8, the device provides a reasonable enough experience for basic tasks. The device has a solid build quality and is perfectly adequate for basic browsing, viewing short video content, or using as a very basic graphics tablet. There are no complaints about overall battery life; although it does take a good few hours to charge up fully, this is more or less the norm for devices at this price point.
The Lenovo does have limited internal storage and the cameras are only good enough for quick snaps. However, the kids’ mode provides good user experience and the general functionality is very straightforward.
As long as you don’t expect too much from this tablet, it provides solid and basic functionality. This type of device is also a cost-effective way to buy into a tablet if your needs aren’t too extensive and your expectations aren’t too high in this segment.