After Dell finally launched its netbook, the Mini 9, there was still one major manufacturer’s netbook that some people were waiting to get their hands on: the one promised from Lenovo.
Well, the wait is over, as it’s finally made its appearance in the form of the IdeaPad S10e, a well designed netbook with a decent feature set and a competitive price tag, the only downside being the battery life from the 3-cell battery.
You can tell straight away which family of notebooks it’s related to, as the squared-off design,
measuring 25 x 18.3 x 2.8cm, makes it look and feel like a ThinkPad that’s been shrunk in the wash, which to many people makes it a winner from the start. But being a netbook it’s not only available in the familiar black, it comes in red and white as well.
Although it’s mostly constructed out of plastic, the usual Lenovo build quality is present so it feels like it can handle the everyday rough and tumble of being a mobile device even if it weighs a mere 1.27kg.
Under the skin the IdeaPad S10e is much the same as the majority of netbooks out there. It’s powered by Intel’s Atom N270 processor, running at 1.60GHz and backed by Intel’s 945GSE Express chipset and 1GB PC2-5300 DDR2 memory, the latter consisting of 512MB soldered to the motherboard and a 512MB module sitting in the single DIMM slot. The maximum the board will support is 1.5GB, so if you wanted a bit more poke from your IdeaPad S10e you could get a 1GB memory module.
Performance wise it doesn’t offer any shocks, its PCMark05 score of 1,456 being in the same ballpark as Acer’s Aspire One and the MSI Wind.
The graphics are powered by Intel’s integrated GMA 950 core and output to a 10.1-inch, TFT, WSVGA, LED backlit screen with a native resolution of 1,024 x 600 pixels. This produces good contrast and sharp colours, while the matt coating reduces reflections from office lighting, or daylight should you be using it outside on a sunny day. Built into the top of the bezel is a 1.3-megapixel camera.
As with all Lenovo notebooks the keyboard is first rate with hardly any flex in the keybed. True, it’s a trifle difficult to use if you have sausages for fingers, but it’s still better than most keyboards found on netbooks. Similarly the touchpad is good and responsive and has a slightly textured feel to it, making it more comfortable to use, as is also the case with the mouse buttons.
Unlike many netbooks out there which make you think twice about upgrading components, Lenovo has made it straightforward enough to replace the two items most people feel comfortable changing; the hard drive and memory. Both sit under an easily accessible hatch on the underside of the chassis.
Port-wise the IdeaPad S10e has a trick up its sleeve in the form of a 34mm ExpressCard slot which opens up all sorts of additional benefits including mobile broadband modem, additional USB or Firewire ports or an e-SATA card so you can back up your data to an external hard drive. The rest of the ports are standard fare for a netbook; two USB, two audio and a VGA out port. There’s also a 4-in-1 card reader built into the left-hand side of the chassis.
For storage there is a 5,400rpm, 160GB hard drive which comes with Windows XP Home pre-loaded on it. Connecting the IdeaPad S10e to the outside world is easy enough with 802.11a/b WiFi and 10/100Mbps wired Ethernet, while Bluetooth 2.0 lets it talk to other devices.
As with a good many netbooks, the IdeaPad S10e would benefit from a bigger, 6-cell battery rather than the 3-cell unit provided, and therefore the two-and-a-half-hour battery life is a bit disappointing. But once again, it’s no better or worse than many of its 3-cell equipped competitors. Lenovo backs the IdeaPad S10e with a one-year warranty.
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