(Pocket-lint) - Tablets of all shapes and sizes are ten a penny these days, making it harder to stand out from the crowd. The latest budget Lenovo Tab 2 A8 8-inch tablet has a good stab at it though, introducing a neater, tidier Android Lollipop user experience - which will also appear later in the year on the larger 10-inch Tab 2 A10-70.
But that's not all, there's also Dolby Atmos on board, the all-encompassing surround sound technology. But, short of using several dozen speakers, how does that work? In the Tab 2 it's a headphone-only system that mimics a surround sound experience, assuming the source material has been mixed in Atmos.
However, we're fairly surprised that Dolby has plastered its name to such watered-down version of the technology as, to our ears, it doesn't feel like a true surround experience at all. And it's a million miles away from the experience that cinema goers will get. Seems to be more a brand association exercise than anything; an assurance that sound will deliver punch and ample bass - which sounded just fine through headphones to us.
In a market dominated by the Nexus 7, the Lenovo Tab 2 A8 is a slightly larger alternative that's around the same price. Many features are comparable, with the Tab 2 A8's 8.9mm thickness similar to the Nexus 7's 8.65mm measurement.
However, A8's screen resolution doesn't drift into Full HD standard like the Nexus (and fellow Lenovo A10-70), instead offering a 1280 x 800 pixel resolution. It looks smart arranged in a black bezel trim, the colourful screen of the Android home screen really standing out.
Flip the A8 over and there's a flap for a SIM and microSD card. Yep, a SIM card, so this 8-incher could be called a phablet. The A10-70, however, doesn't offer such connectivity - not that we can ever imagine holding a 10-inch tablet up to the face to take a call.
Build quality is as to be expected for a £130 tablet: it's plastic, but doesn't feel cheap and nasty by any means, with the single back looking better than the top-and-bottom borders of some other tablets, including Lenovo's own Miix 300. The A10-70 costs a little more at £180.
Lollipop love and a dash of Dolby go some distance to bolster Lenovo's case, even if Atmos isn't as impressive in this context as it should be. But in the affordable tablet market, where there's plenty of choice, these neater, tidier options are both attractive. The Tab 2 A8 will be out in April, with the Tab 2 A10 following later in the year.