Lenovo – S10-2 review

10-inch netbook with Windows 7
Photo of Lenovo – S10-2
£269

Lenovo has given its IdeaPad S10e a makeover to come up with the S10-2. The basics of the hardware have been carried over from the older model but there have been upgrades galore.

The new dual core N280 Intel Atom processor has a front side bus speed of 667MHz compared to 533MHz for the previous version and the 1GB of memory has also been upgraded from DDR2-533MHz to DDR2-667MHz. In the past you got 160GB of storage but now the hard drive has 250GB of space.
Lenovo has made a change to the resolution of the 10.1-inch LED backlit screen which previously had a resolution of 1,024 x 576 while the S10-2 now sports 1,024 x 600 pixels.

We also note that there has been a change to the ports and connectors. The original S10e had two USB 2.0 ports and a 34mm ExpressCard slot which differentiated the Lenovo from competing netbooks, however the S10-2 has the conventional set-up of three USB 2.0 ports and no ExpressCard slot.

Those changes to the hardware are relatively minor compared to Lenovo’s choice of software, as the S10-2 runs Windows 7. Most netbooks use Windows XP rather than Windows Vista so it is quite a jump to Windows 7. The Atom N280 processor and Intel GMA 950 graphics core in the i945GSE chipset are both quite feeble so Lenovo has chosen Windows 7 Starter Edition rather than Home Premium or Professional.

This means that you can forget about the swish 3D Aero desktop, watching TV in Windows Media Centre or XP Mode for legacy applications. That takes some of the glitz off Windows 7 but we have a deeper concern, as Windows Vista and Windows 7 require a large, high definition display to work properly since the icons, task bar and tool bars take up a considerable amount of space. It is our opinion that the 1024 x 600 screen resolution of the S10-2 is inadequate to make the most of Windows 7.

We appreciate that Lenovo and the other netbook manufacturers are in something of a quandary on this score. If they stick with Windows XP they miss out on the security enhancements that are part of Windows 7 but, on the other hand, if they move to the new Operating System they won’t get the best from the software thanks to the limitations of the small screen that is an inherent part of a netbook.
It’s a bit of a conundrum and it seems to us that netbooks may be heading for something of a sea-change with the advent of Windows 7.

Our loan sample came with an extended six-cell battery that raises the rear of the netbook and tilts the keyboard to give it a lovely natural feel. Lenovo has located two function buttons above the keyboard. One is a short-cut to the CyberLink OneKey Recovery 7.0 backup application while the QS (Quick Start) button boots Device VM’s Splashtop ‘instant on’ software. This allows you to use a browser or an instant messenger or to look at photos when you can’t be bothered to wait for Windows 7 to start.

Performance of the S10-2 is absolutely typical for a dual core Atom netbook with Intel graphics, as it can barely pull the electronic skin from an electronic rice pudding, although it is good enough for the job in hand. The battery lasted for three and a quarter hours of continuous movie playback.

Company: Lenovo

Contact: 0808 234 4690


Verdict
Lenovo has updated its ten-inch Atom netbook with a handful of minor changes to the hardware and a major change to the software in the shape of Windows 7 Starter Edition. Although we can see why Lenovo has made the switch to Microsoft's latest OS, we're not the least bit convinced that it is suitable for Intel graphics and a 10.1-inch screen.