This year's IFA has seen some manufacturers breaking the tablet mould, and doing it noisily too. Lenovo, on the other hand, has stuck with the formula of a big screen in a rectangular body, with its IdeaPad A1. The only noise here is the price.
At first glance, the A1 seems distinctly average, with a 7-inch, 1,024x600-pixel display, a single-core 1GHz processor, and pretty standard Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Nothing really appears to stand out, with one exception: the price. And it's a very big exception, because the cheapest version, with 8GB of storage, will set you back a staggeringly low $200, or around £125.
This means the IdeaPad A1 is at least half the price of virtually every other tablet on the market, and in most cases, it's cheaper still. Last year's similarly specced Samsung Galaxy Tab is still being sold new for around £250 to £300, for example. The original iPad is on eBay and elsewhere for around £300. With that in mind, the IdeaPad A1 is a bargain of near TouchPad dimensions.
And even though it's packing internals from last year and an operating system built for phones, it's still a capable device. Performance should be comparable to the original Galaxy Tab, and may even be better, as Lenovo has kept the tablet's build of Android very close to stock. In addition, a partnership with Navdroyd gives you interesting offline GPS feature, so in theory, the IdeaPad A1 could replace your sat-nav.
In a market which is becoming more and more saturated, manufacturers need their tablets to stand out from the rest. Sony's Tablet S and Tablet P do this with unique designs. Lenovo has made the IdeaPad A1 stand out by being dirt cheap. Sure, you can buy a tablet for less, but it will be from a company you've never heard of, and it will likely disintegrate at the first touch.
The IdeaPad probably won't fall apart in your hands. Lenovo says it has a magnesium alloy rollcage, as do its line of ThinkPads, but This Is My Next, which had a recent hands-on at a US event, was concerned with an otherwise plasticky build. Engadget thought more highly of it.
There's no news on whether Lenovo will bring the A1 to the UK, but we'll do our best to find out. Does it look like a tablet you might want to buy? Let us know on our Facebook wall or in the comments below.