If you’re looking for a id=”305922″>tablet to use while lounging on the living room couch, or you need something to keep the kids entertained on a long road trip, Lenovo might have you covered. The Tab 4 8 is an 8-inch slate with a compact build and reasonable specs for average media consumption for an affordable $129.99. That said, if you don’t require access to Google Play, Amazon’s Fire HD 8 offers similar hardware and performance for nearly half the price, making it our Editors’ Choice.
Design, Display, and Connectivity
Plastic is the order of the day when it comes to the Tab 4 8. The sides have a smooth, faux-metal look and feel, while the back has a grippy, soft-touch finish. The tablet measures in at 8.3 by 4.9 by 0.3 inches (HWD) and 10.9 ounces, making it a bit easier to handle for extended periods of time than the Fire HD 8 (8.4 by 5.0 by 0.4 inches, 13 ounces). The build quality feels solid, though it isn’t officially rugged or waterproof. If you’re planning to use it as a kid’s tablet, you’ll want to invest in a protective case.
Along the sides are the usual array of ports and buttons. The right has a clicky volume rocker and a ridged power button, while the top features a 3.5mm audio jack and a micro USB charging port. On the left you’ll find a microSD card slot covered by a flap; it worked fine with a 256GB card. The top and bottom feature beveled edges with a pair of Dolby stereo speakers delivering audio towards you. They get plenty loud for watching videos and listening to music, but at higher volume levels they sound rather tinny.
There’s an 8-inch, 1,280-by-800 IPS screen front-and-center, which works out to 189 pixels per inch. That’s the same as the Fire HD 8, and a bit crisper than the Fire 7 (171ppi). The added pixel density makes text and games look sharper, which is what you want in a media tablet. It looks better than the larger Tab 4 10, which stretches the same number of pixels across a larger 10.1-inch screen. Viewing angles are great and screen brightness is solid, though not quite high enough to overcome direct sunlight.
The Tab 4 8 only supports 2.4GHz Wi-Fi, which is a bit of a disappointment since even the $50 Fire 7 has dual-band 2.4/5GHz. Despite this, we experienced decent wireless range and connectivity in testing. There’s also Bluetooth 4.2 for wireless audio.
Processor, Battery, and Camera
The slate is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 processor clocked at 1.4GHz. It’s a common chipset for tablets in this price range, registering 36,595 on the AnTuTu benchmark, which serves as a measure of overall system performance. That’s a bit less than Snapdragon 617-powered Verizon Ellipsis HD 8 (45,684), but better than the Acer Iconia One 8’s MediaTek 8163 processor (34,184).
Benchmark numbers aside, the Tab 4 8 has 2GB of RAM, making it feel relatively fast compared with the Fire HD 8’s 1.5GB. The extra bit of memory lets you open apps more quickly, multitask more smoothly, and basically just experience slightly better performance overall. If you push the Tab 4 8 too hard you’ll start to encounter some slowdown, but it will handle standard media consumption just fine. The only thing you can’t do is play high-end games.
See How We Test Cell Phones
Battery life is great. The tablet lasted for 6 hours, 30 minutes of streaming full-screen video over Wi-Fi at maximum screen brightness, longer than the Fire HD 8 (4 hours, 42 minutes), and the Alcatel A30 Tablet (6 hours, 15 minutes). That makes it a trusty companion for keeping kids entertained during a lengthy car ride.
The 5-megapixel rear camera sensor takes grainy photos in most circumstances, and struggles with bluriness in low light. The 2-megapixel front camera doesn’t fare much better. Surprisingly, video recording is available in 1080p, but frame rates are poor and most of the recordings we took looked dim and blurry.
The Tab 4 8 comes running Android 7.1.1 Nougat with Lenovo’s custom UI on top. Visual modifications are minor, with the lock screen and app icons appearing a bit different, but everything else remains close to stock.
There’s not much in terms of added features, but you do get Dolby Atmos software enhancements, which gives you customized profiles to tweak the audio quality of music, games, and video. If you plan on sharing the slate with family, you can set up multiple users, as well as child profiles that have a more restricted set of apps and limited access to the internet.
You’ll find a Lenovo app that gives you information about the tablet, plus Netflix, OneNote, Outlook, Shareit, Skype, Syncit HD, Touchpal 2016, Powerpoint, and Word preloaded. Nearly all of them can be uninstalled, but you still won’t have much internal storage. Out of 16GB, only half is available for use. Fortunately, you can always use a microSD card.
For $130, the Tab 4 8 is a solid tablet with good battery life. It’s well-suited for media consumption, kids, and travel, especially if you need access to the Google Play store. But if you can live with Amazon’s highly modified version of Android (which includes a proprietary app store), you’ll get nearly the same level of performance with the Fire HD 8 for $80. It’s the best tablet you can get for under $100, and our Editors’ Choice. If you need connectivity wherever you go, the $125 Alcatel A30 is the most affordable tablet that can keep you connected via cellular data. And if you’re on the fence about Android, the latest Apple iPad is significantly more expensive, but offers great value for the money.