Lenovo preps $199, Android 2.3-powered tablet

The tablet price war is still raging. The TouchPad might have won the latest battle with a spectacular kamikaze attack, but HP won't keep peddling 'em at $99 for much longer. Lenovo seems to be taking a more sustainable approach to undercutting its competitors. PC World reports that the company is on the verge of introducing a 7-inch, Android-powered IdeaPad tablet priced at a scant $199.

Due in late September, the IdeaPad A1 will apparently cut some corners to hit that price point without putting Lenovo in the red. It will run Android 2.3—the smartphone release, not the tablet-friendly Android 3.x—and it will feature a single-core Cortex-A8-based processor. Battery life will add up to only seven hours, and it doesn't sound like Lenovo is aiming for a particularly thin frame. PC World mentions a thickness of "under 0.5 inches;" the iPad 2, by contrast, measures only 0.33".

At least the IdeaPad A1 shouldn't disappoint on the storage and connectivity fronts. Front and rear cameras will be included, as will be a MicroSD slot and a micro-USB connector. Lenovo will ship the device with "up to 32GB" of storage, although the base, $199 model will presumably have less. I'm assuming Wi-Fi will also be on the menu.

In a nutshell, the device sounds more like a jumbo, contract-free smartphone (minus cellular connectivity, in all likelihood) than a bona-fide tablet. The IdeaPad A1 could prove popular outside of North America, though, and I'm sure it will pique the interest of hackers looking for a cheap, non-proprietary device to tinker with.

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