The Lenovo SmartTab P10; is it a tablet, is it an Echo Show, well actually it’s both!
- Unique Echo Show Ability
- Loud audio when docked
- Super slippery glass back
- Disappointing dock audio
I was looking at stuff in the Black Friday sales (that started long before actual Black Friday) and as is usual you get adverts for tons of stuff and I happened over the M10. The M10 I saw has a dock that doubles when in the dock to become an Alexa compatible device. I thought, “oooh that’s kinda cool”. Then I discovered that Lenovo does the P10, which is the same thing really but with better specs. Specifically, they do a version with 4GB of RAM. For the £100 difference in a 2GB M10 to a 4GB P10, well 2GB on Android I think is pretty much useless. As it’s also the time of year for spending money on crap you really don’t need, in the basket it went.
On opening the box, the tablet is quite nice, clearly not high-end but the dock seems really nice. I do not like that the dock has a proprietary power connector though. Seriously Lenovo, can you give me one good reason why it’s not USB-C? Still, what’s done is done but it’s a most annoying oversite. Thankfully though the tablet itself has a USB-C charging socket, you know for when you aren’t using the dock to charge it. I’m not sure why you would but it means you can use the tablet as a normal, everyday tablet. Frustratingly, this doesn’t hold true the other way around, without the tablet in it the dock is useless. I realise there might be a good reason for it but it seems an opportunity lost to me.
This thing has a crazy set up time. It wants your Google login, then your Amazon (for the Alexa stuff) then your Lenovo ID, then it wants to update, and then to pair with the dock, then to update the dock firmware, then another update, then one more update then re-pair to the dock and so on. I know you only have to do it all once but my God, it took forever.
It’s a decent device but by no means is it a flagship. The screen is a 1920 x 1200 which is nice, and viewing angles are really decent too. It’s an IPS panel which is fairly decent, nothing amazing but nice nevertheless. The tablet feels nice in the hand but the back of this thing is super slippery and this is posing a dilemma. If I put it in a case, it won’t fit into the dock but if I don’t put it in a case, if I ever try to use it as a tablet, it will go flying out of my hands. I appreciate this is a first-world problem, but why do companies do things like this? If it had a plastic back like the cheaper M10 is supposed to have it might be far more practical in the hand.
Inside the P10 as mentioned before, lies 4GB of RAM and 64GB storage. The 32GB one has only 3GB RAM. 64GB isn’t a huge amount but it does have a micro SD card slot so you should be able to up storage to 1TB (in theory). There is also a big blob of metal where there should be a sim card slot on the sim/card tray. Yes, there is an LTE version of this. Honestly Lenovo, you make 4 versions of this tablet and then what, another 4 versions of the M10? The dock however supposedly supports both the M10 and P10, so that at least is seems sensible. Speaking of the Dock, it seems the audio is wildly pulling to the left. I do not know if this is normal, I’m kinda hoping I have a defective unit and will be awaiting Lenovo’s response to my enquiry.
CPU wise we have a Snapdragon 450 inside, hardly a top of the range chip and hardly the most up to date lower mid-range CPU either. At its price of circa £250 for a tablet with a dock it’s not an entirely unreasonable choice. Also, given it’s got 4GB of RAM it shouldn’t slow to the juddering crawl that things with 2GB do. Android in my experience loves RAM more than CPU power so while its benchmarks aren’t astonishing, in use it feels pretty reasonable. Geekbench 5 CPU scores a paltry 149 single-core and a more reasonable 904 multi-core score. My Pixel 4 gets 641 and 2412 respectively. Geekbench 4 my Pixel 4 manages 3192 and 10248 whereas the P10 scores 764 and 3789. It plays Netflix fine and in HD so that’s probably the most CPU taxing thing I would use in normal life.
For the price of the tablet it’s rather a nice screen. 1920 x 1200 and very good viewing angles too, the colour saturation looks pretty reasonable too. I have no issue with it, no faults but I’m not drooling over it either. Honestly, at this price being able to find no faults at all is really very high praise but it’s just not exciting stuff.
Okay so I normally care a lot about the audio in a device but, it’s a tablet. While I am exceedingly pleased to see a headphone socket. Any tablet without a headphone socket is just plain idiocy. Whilst their absence on a phone is also idiocy when they fit in 5 cameras, but in a tablet, the fake excuse of saving space is just blatantly, well, just that; an excuse. Yet while this has one, let’s face it, it’s just only if ever, going to be used for watching TV or movies should the tablet ever make it travelling with me. Speaker wise, the tablet has 4, yes 4 speakers. It means you can have stereo in landscape or portrait. A nice touch but the speakers are not awesome. They get loud enough mostly but in Netflix, playing Hannibal, a show where the audio is quiet, subtle, at max volume they weren’t very loud at all. They sound reasonable but you would think that there are 4 they would have greater output.
The dock, ahh well as I mentioned before that it was way off to the left, I thought it was defective. Lenovo got back to me and told me that while it has two drivers, they are on the front and back but both are way on the left. I have no words for this. It seems for every smart thing Lenovo do they do something completely moronic. I’m having trouble accepting that this is supposed to be normal, yet Lenovo says it is. What a complete waste of a really interesting concept, the dock just cannot be that one-sided, just how is it possible? It is so bad that this is a potential deal-breaker in how off centre it sounds, what on earth were they thinking when they designed this, it is inexcusable to have something so stupid, especially given they tout that you can use the dock as a Bluetooth speaker. The dock adds plenty of volume and such but the audio quality isn’t all that.
Rather great, the battery in the P10 is twice the size of the one in the M10. Its claimed to be 7000mAh though I got this number from Amazon as Lenovo seems to want to hide it. After letting the thing play a video it got about 11 hours. I was half keeping an eye on it and it died in-between checking glances. That’s pretty impressive I thought given it is designed to live in a dock. The screen was a half brightness and cranking it up will reduce the life but one test was more than my patience could deal with. I think for a fairly budget device it a pretty good showing.
Lenovo hasn’t done too much to abuse its customers. There is one massive UI annoyance however, they have some ridiculous overlay thing that appears on the left whenever you go into landscape. It’s basically just YouTube but it wants you to use a Lenovo ID to log in. I can fathom no idea what the hell purpose it’s supposed to serve. It is just plain annoying; I can’t see why anyone would ever use it and what’s more, is you can’t get rid of it. Why the hell Android tablet and phone makers feel the need to add crap that is non-removable and in almost all cases is universally hated gah! Honestly, how can they still not have learned everyone hates these things? That thing aside, Lenovo haven’t done too much else the screw things up. The one thing that is odd is the Alexa stuff. For all intents this works just like any Android tablet until you stick it in the dock, then the Echo Show screen stuff appears. It’s weird, why Alexa and not google Assistant stuff? What’s odder is the dock is just a dumb power dock that is connected to a Bluetooth speaker. Why not have the option to do either? Lenovo does make Google smart Displays too, so they clearly work together. I don’t know, but then what do I know, clearly installing “Lenovo Kids Account” on a tablet flanked in glass was obviously the much more useful thing to do.
Remember though, it’s Android so you can slap on whatever launcher you like so aside from a few bloatware apps, you can set things up how you like.
In The Hand
Good and bad, as I’ve mentioned the glass back is just stupid, it slowly glides out of your grip just as its glides across any not perfectly flat surface you put it down on. In short, if you want to use it as an actual tablet, get a case or a Vinyl skin. This ruins using it in the dock but should keep it in one piece. This is a problem; one I do not know how to fix. Otherwise, the tablet is not bad, it’s pretty evenly balanced, and has gently rounded edges so it’s easy on the fingers where it rests, and you will need to rest the edge on a finger if it’s not in a case.
Yes, it has a rear and a front-facing camera. The rear is 8mp and front is 5mp. They are both so so, but it’s a tablet so they have no use, aside from maybe the occasional skype call for which you really don’t need anything exceptional. Interestingly it even has a flash on the rear camera. I rather like that it’s there as they are super handy when you need a torch.
A stupid choice to put glass on the back of the thing but the build on everything feels, nice. The dock actually feels really nice even if I’m still not convinced it isn’t broken. Honestly, aside from wanting to complain more about the glass back panel, there isn’t anything to complain about. The hardware, while nothing astounding is really pretty decent and you have to keep in mind that the whole thing, dock and tablet retails normally for only £250. Once you have that in mind you cannot really moan about the sides and the buttons felling a bit so so.
In short, it’s a nice tablet with audio loud enough to hear in a busy kitchen when docked that you can use for video. It is perfectly usable and competent. I realise this isn’t wild and overflowing praise but for £250 even with the docks weird audio, it is still way more capable than any tablet by its own. The tablet too is really pretty decent too, a good amount of RAM, decent storage, micro SD card support. Its all-round decent and good value for the price.
The CPU isn’t great but the only 2 real issues with the P10 is that stupid glass back on the tablet and that the audio on the Dock is wildly off to the left. Oh, and the dock having a proprietary charging connection is somewhat of a pain too.
For the level of moaning about stupid things and the lack of gushing praise it all comes down to money. The price at normal retail is £250 and you really are getting rather a lot for that. You get a 10 inch Echo Show and you get a real, properly usable tablet. You won’t get anything else quite the same for the money.
The same few themes abound. I feel the glass back stupid, The dock has weirdly off-centre audio, but all around it is great for the money. Nothing stands out, the hardware is reasonable, the screen is too, everything is pretty reasonable, there isn’t really too much you can fault. It isn’t perfect, the crapware for one, that glass back and the dock’s side projecting sound but this is a really cheap device. It still manages to pretty much pull off everything. However, as I’m sure you can tell I haven’t been exactly bowelled over with enthusiasm nor praise abounding. It’s good, nice for the price but overall it is nothing magical. It may be a little special with its Alexa mode Echo Show. I have a 5 inch Echo Show and it’s not really all that useful in comparison to the Google Nest Hub I have. If we assume you love Alexa then maybe for you this is a much more important factor.
So, should you buy one? Well if that dock audio wasn’t so weirdly one-sided I’d be a very firm yes. But the audio being so pulled to the left really bothers me. I’m also not wild about the glass back, But, time and again I come back to the price, you get a pretty good all-round bundle for the money. Sure, it won’t blow your socks off with its performance nor, well, anything but it doesn’t truly suck at anything either and that’s a reasonable achievement. So, yeah, you get a cheap tablet with a dock to charge it and it turns into an Echo Show when charging. It’s far from perfect but it’s worth a punt.