It’s safe to say that Android tablets will never be a thing. It’s safer to say the Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus and the Home Assistant Pack will never replace anyone’s Echo home speaker.

It’s hard to figure out Lenovo’s strategy here. While Apple has carved out a nice niche with the iPad, and Chromebook makers are beginning to experiment with keyboard-less models, Android-based tablets never really caught on with fans of the platform who were content with using their larger-screened phones to get things done.

But Lenovo has nonetheless plugged away with making tablets, most recently with the Tab 4 8 Plus. Breaking down the unwieldly name, this is the fourth-generation of Lenovo’s Tab line, with an 8-inch 1920 x 1200 display. Otherwise the specs are decidedly less than plus-sized:

  • Processor: Snapdragon 625
  • Memory: 2GB
  • Storage: 16GB
  • OS: Android Nougat 7.1
  • Rear camera: 8 MP auto focus
  • Front camera: 5 MP fixed focus
  • Speakers: Dual front-facing speakers with Dolby Atmos

For $230, however, the Tab 4 8 Plus (OK I’ll stop writing that now) isn’t a bad tablet at all. But it’s not a very good one either. There are huge bezels and seams all around and an oddly positioned USB-C port. Its camera isn’t worth writing about. The best feature of the Tab 4 is the screen, which is retina quality and a sight better than most other 8-inch “HD” tablets with 1280 X 800 screens. But it picks up fingerprints very easily and its glossy veneer makes it very tough to read in bright or overhead lighting.

Power efficient but not powerful

The tablet is running Android Nugget with no indication from Lenovo that an Oreo update is coming anytime soon, but at this point who cares? While Oreo’s picture-in-picture would be nice on a tablet, the Tab 4’s split-screen abilities should be enough for multitaskers. Besides, the Tab 4’s Snapdragon 625 processor is far from the speediest, so you’ll be best to stick with light tasks.

lenovo tab 4 ports speakersMichael Simon/IDG

The speakers on the Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus have Dolby Atmos support and sound great.

While performance is eh, battery life is excellent, with strong screen-on and screen-off performance. Streaming a 2-hour movie over Netflix cost just 17 percent of the Tab 4’s battery life, and it barely lost any juice when in standby mode for days. The front-facing Dolby Atmos speakers sounded fantastic when watching said movie. It’s also equipped with a SIM slot for LTE, a nice addition for a cheapish tablet.

Lenovo hasn’t done too much to modify the Android tablet experience, but there are two notable app additions. The first is Kidoz, which lets you set up a new user with a child profile that launches kid-friendly environment with time and content restrictions. The candy-colored interface is geared more toward toddlers than tweens, but it’s nonetheless a good tool for parents who don’t have time to look over their kids’ shoulders when they’re playing on their tablet.

lenovo tab 4 kidsMichael Simon/IDG

Toddlers will love the Kidoz app on the Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus.

The other is the Lenovo Alexa app, and it’s here where the Tab 4 tries to set itself apart from the rest of the 8-inch Android tablet crowd. While the app itself is a standard porthole to Amazon’s AI assistant with support for several languages, the Tab 4 is also compatible with Lenovo’s $80 Home Assistant Pack, which turns your tablet into a hands-free smart speaker with a screen.

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