In the UK, Lenovo is known for its corporate ThinkPad range - which it bought the rights to from IBM a couple of years ago. As such, it’s easy to forget that the company also produces a range of consumer laptops. The latest to arrive is the IdeaPad S10 - a netbook looking to take on the established players.
As with most recent netbooks, it’s a 10.2-inch machine, with Lenovo staying away from the smaller 8.9-inch format. The screen features a standard 1024 x 600 pixel resolution, but images are crisp and sharp. If you don’t need a higher resolution, it’s actually one of the best displays we’ve seen on a netbook, with LED backlighting resulting in flawless colour reproduction. It’s a Super-TFT panel though, so you’ll find the usual reflections in direct sunlight.
The IdeaPad is one of the more simple netbooks when it comes to styling, with few stand-out features. That said, it’s still an attractive design, and like Toshiba’s NB100, it feels less toy-like than some of the other netbooks you can buy. At 31mm in depth, it’s also thinner than most of its rivals, but we found it a sturdy and well made device. At 1.1kg, it’s light enough to take with you wherever you go.
The keyboard offers mixed usability. It’s far better than the 8.9-inch Netbooks we’ve seen, and the keys are large enough for comfortable use. We were impressed by the amount of travel on offer, which makes it easy to type at speed. That said, the plastics used are more brittle than those found on the company’s other laptops, and it also rattles more. The touchpad is truly tiny and, although precise, it may prove too small for those with big fingers to use comfortably.
There’s nothing unusual about the IdeaPad’s specification, with an Intel Atom processor and 1024MB of memory in place. Thankfully Lenovo has ignored Vista, pre-installing Windows XP Home on our S10e review sample. You’ll also be able to buy the S10 with Windows XP Pro, or Novell SLED 10 Linux. Unfortunately we haven’t had the opportunity to try the latter, so cannot compare it to rival operating systems.
Performance was adequate for office tasks, but as with other netbooks the system slowed considerably when running several applications simultaneously. The worst aspect of our review machine was its battery life, and at just over 2 hours, it offers considerably less mobility than its rivals.
Feature-wise, the S10e has the standard array of sockets. You’ll find two USB ports, and a VGA port for connecting an external display. The ExpressCard slot is also a welcome touch in a device of this size. Network connections are slightly sub-standard, however - with 10/100 Ethernet and 802.11g Wi-Fi. You will find Bluetooth integrated, making it possible to connect digital devices wirelessly.
The Lenovo IdeaPad S10e is a good netbook, but not a great one. The screen is much better than average, but there are few other stand-out features. We were impressed by the quality of the chassis, but the keyboard didn’t live up to our expectations. Overall, it’s difficult to ignore the fact the keyboard isn’t up to the same standard as Lenovo’s other laptops, and the S10e feels like a missed opportunity.