Lenovo IdeaPad S10e review
Lenovo's debut on the netbook scene isn't quite what we'd been hoping for.
The flow of new netbooks may have slowed from a torrent to more of a trickle, but while there aren't many of the major manufacturers who are yet to make the plunge, there are some notable absentees. One name sorely missing from the lineup, at least until now, is Lenovo.
If any manufacturer has the laptop-building pedigree to nail the netbook formula first time it's the manufacturer of the nigh-on-legendary ThinkPad range. The surprising thing is that it hasn't, and not by a long stretch.
Getting to grips
Rip open the endearingly tiny Lenovo box and the first moments with the IdeaPad S10e are promising. It's a 10 inch netbook so its 250 x 183 x 28mm dimensions are appealingly petite and, what's more, it tips the scales at 1.1kg placing it squarely amongst the rest of the 10in brigade. Light enough to carry in one hand? Check. Small enough to pop in even the most compact of satchels? Check.
The build quality and aesthetics evoke the more endearing traits of Lenovo's legendary ThinkPad range, too. Its looks are, for instace, typically plain, but that's no bad thing. The matte black lid sports a chunky silver Lenovo logo but otherwise there's very little attempt at injecting any sense of style. Cast your gaze around the rest of the chassis and it's enlivened only by the traditional ThinkPad red and green 3.5mm audio sockets. Looks might not be everything but set the IdeaPad S10e next to the Samsung NC10 and, if a laptop could blush, the Lenovo's cheeks would be ruby red.
There is a payoff for such a bland exterior, though, and that's sturdiness. The S10e's base feels reassuringly stiff and even the display, the weak point of so many netbooks, resists twisting and tugging motions with impressive resilience.
One crushing disappointment, especially given Lenovo's history of superb keyboards and pointing devices for its 'proper' laptops, is the IdeaPad's ergonomics. The stiff base means that there's not too much flex in the keyboard panel but unlike the Samsung NC10's almost-full-size example the Lenovo's layout is just a bit too cramped. The relatively squat keys fall noticeably less easily under the finger, and we can't stand the half-height Enter key.
Fire up the S10e, however, and it has a trick up its sleeve or two. Before you find yourself greeted by the familiar Windows XP loading screen, for instance, you'll be presented with a more novel sight - Lenovo's Quick Start front end. This isn't a proprietary piece of software, though, rather a rebranded version of DeviceVM's instant-on software, called Splashtop. Its five main icons provide quick access to a web browser, media player, photo gallery, chat application and Skype, too.
There's a problem with this, however: it really isn't very quick. From pressing the on button to getting the web browser up and running took about 30 seconds - hardly what can be described as instantaneous - especially when booting Windows XP and loading Chrome takes just a smidgen under 40 seconds. Factor in the seeming inability to moderate the excessive trackpad sensitivity, and the "Quick Start" software soon begins to prove more of a hindrance than a help.
The usual suspects
The hardware ticking away inside the S10e is a roster of familiar faces. An Intel Atom N270 processor squats alongside 1GB of memory and a capacious 160GB hard drive while wireless connectivity includes the netbook staples of 802.11g and Bluetooth. Performance, as you'd expect, is merely par for the course. A score of 0.41 in our application benchmarks is fast enough for the basic tasks you'd expect of a netbook, while the integrated Intel GMA 950 graphics preclude all but the lightest of gaming sessions.
|Warranty||1 yr return to base|
|Dimensions||253 x 194 x 39mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Atom N270|
|SODIMM sockets free||0|
|SODIMM sockets total||1|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,024|
|Resolution screen vertical||576|
|Resolution||1024 x 576|
|Graphics chipset||Intel GMA 950|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||1|
|Hard disk usable capacity||149GB|
|Internal disk interface||SATA|
|Optical disc technology||N/A|
|Replacement battery price ex VAT||£50|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£58|
|Wired adapter speed||100Mbits/sec|
|802.11 draft-n support||no|
|Integrated 3G adapter||no|
|Wireless hardware on/off switch||no|
|Wireless key-combination switch||yes|
|PC Card slots||0|
|USB ports (downstream)||1|
|PS/2 mouse port||no|
|9-pin serial ports||0|
|Optical S/PDIF audio output ports||0|
|Electrical S/PDIF audio ports||0|
|3.5mm audio jacks||2|
|SD card reader||yes|
|Memory Stick reader||yes|
|MMC (multimedia card) reader||yes|
|Smart Media reader||no|
|Compact Flash reader||no|
|Pointing device type||Touchpad|
|Camera megapixel rating||1.3mp|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||5hr 12min|
|Overall application benchmark score||0.40|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows XP Home|
|OS family||Windows XP|