Lenovo IdeaPad S10


So far, netbooks are a sector dominated by no one. While Acer has had the most sales in 2008, a new year has come, and the young industry is anyone’s for the taking. With this in mind, today’s review will focus on the flagship netbook of one of the industry’s biggest contenders: the Ideapad S10 from Lenovo.

Lenovo Ideapad S10

The Ideapad S10 is a 10-inch netbook and costs $349 to start. It has some features that distinguish it from the competition, but before we get into them, here are the specs (lifted from NotebookReview).

  • 1.6GHz N270 Intel Atom Processor
  • 1GB PC2-5300 DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz
  • Windows XP Home Edition (SP3)
  • 10.2″ WSVGA AntiGlare TFT with integrated camera 1024×600
  • 160GB 5400rpm hard drive
  • Intel GMA 950 Integrated Graphics
  • Broadcom 11b/g Wi-Fi wireless and Bluetooth
  • 4-in-1 Media card reader and ExpressCard slot
  • 3-Cell Li-ion battery
  • Size: 9.8″ x 7.2″ x 1.2″ (including feet)
  • Weight: 2.64 lbs (with 3-cell battery)

Design

The Ideapad S10 doesn’t seem too distinct at first glance, but Lenovo snuck in a few nice touches. The exterior uses pearly plastics and some gloss to keep it simple and clean looking. The keyboard and palmrest have matte white covers, which are reasonably durable. There’s a small amount of flex in the palmrests if you push hard enough. The netbook is mostly made of plastic but can handle getting jostled.

Lenovo Ideapad S10

The S10 is easier to upgrade than a lot of netbooks out there on the market. Some extremely exciting updates will kick in this March, about which we recently reported.

The hinge seems kind of clunky, but that’s only until you realize that the hinge is in fact the 3-cell battery powering the netbook. The overall look of the netbook is admirable, if a bit kiddie, but don’t underestimate it – what the IdeaPad lacks in flashiness it makes up for with solid design and power. Additionally, the S10 will see a nice redesign this March when it is released in some nice new colors.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The IdeaPad S10 has a keyboard that lessens the feeling of crampedness found on a lot of 7- or 8.9-inch netbooks. However, it manages to stay extremely compact. It takes a little getting used to,  but that’s always the case when you switch from notebooks or desktops to netbooks. The keyboard certainly works well, but it really depends on the user.

Lenovo Ideapad S10

The touchpad is surprisingly nice for a budget netbook, which the Ideapad S10 is. It is smooth, snappily responsibe, and tracks well. It has support for iPhone-style multi-touch gestures (pinching to zoom in, etc.) via Synaptics. It’s a lot of fun to use.

Display

The 10.2″ display is of the WSVGA (1024×600) AntiGlare TFT type. It is vibrant and colors look good. It’s got plenty of contrast for easy reading, and white levels are clear. Since it has a matte surface, it tends not to reflect or show glare, so you can work in bright light or outdoors.

Lenovo Ideapad S10

Viewing angles are good enough for standard use. Vertically, colors will darken and invert a bit, but if you aren’t doing anything too strange the IdeaPad S10′s display will work well for you.

Features

The IdeaPad S10 has a good selection of ports. It has only two USBs, which is a small number but standard. However, it makes up for that paucity with Bluetooth, Ethernet, and an ExpressCard slot. I’d take the latter over another USB any day, so the Lenovo Ideapad S10 gets high marks in this category. It has VGA out and a 3-in-1 card reader as well.

Lenovo Ideapad S10

However, the thing you’ll most want to note about the Ideapad S10 comes in the form of a sleek update coming this March. We reported on it this morning:

The changes start with a slight screen-size increase: 10.2 inches from the previous 10. It will come with LenovoSocial, a suite designed for “social networking enthusiasts.” The biggest news, however, is the inclusion of VeriFace facial recognition technlogoly and a multi-touch trackpad. It’s expected this March at around $349, and will come in black, white, red, blue, or pink.

In other words: wait until March to buy the IdeaPad. You can read the full article here.

Lenovo Ideapad S10

Performance and Battery Life

The IdeaPad S10 is fast enough for what it’s meant to do – word processing, browsing the web, and a few other menial tasks. It’s also surprisingly quick while editing photos. The 3D specs aren’t fantastic, but who needs them? We’ve got no complaints here.

Under normal conditions, the Lenovo IdeaPad S10 offers about 3 hours and 45 minutes of life. For a 3-cell battery this isn’t too bad, but somehow we just wish they’d add an option for a 6-cell.

Speakers and Audio

While we rarely find reason to mention the audio capabilities of netbooks, the speakers on the S10 are actually pretty good. They achieve great volume levels with minimal distortion and good range, but are somewhat oddly placed. Some reviewers are calling them “crotch speakers”, because the sound isn’t directed up and toward the user – it shoots the sound down at your crotch.

Why? Who knows. Hopefully this will be amended in the March upgrade.

Lenovo Ideapad S10

The Good

  • Light and small
  • Well-designed and easy to use
  • Durable
  • Easily upgraded
  • Comes with Bluetooth and an ExpressCard
  • Awesome facial recognition technology on the way

The Bad

  • Looks a little juvenile with the white plastic exterior
  • Only two USBs
  • No option for 6-cell battery
  • Gets hot with prolonged use

Final Notes

The Lenovo IdeaPad S10 is a great netbook, there’s no doubt. But is it the best? Is it worth your money and time?

It’s a budget netbook, so netbooks with better features are out there. However, it isn’t boring; Lenovo realized an ExpressCard is a great idea, and included Bluetooth, as every netbook maker should (but not all do, curiously). Considering Lenovo’s new updates, the S10 may be turning into a luxury netbook with a competitive cost – something we can’t help but love.

The thing isn’t flawless. The Lenovo IdeaPad S10 suffers from heat issues, and has a smaller battery than we’d like. Despite this, it’s far greater than a lot of the machines out there with similar specs. Coupled with the exciting March update, that places the netbook above average. The bottom line? We highly recommend the IdeaPad S10.

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Like the Lenovo Ideapad S10? Buy one now at Amazon!

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