Lenovo IdeaPad S10e review

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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.

Quick smart?

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

Physical specifications

Dimensions 253 x 194 x 39mm (WDH)
Weight 1.280kg
Travelling weight 1.6kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Atom N270
RAM capacity 1.00GB
Memory type DDR2
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 1

Screen and video

Screen size 10.1in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,024
Resolution screen vertical 576
Resolution 1024 x 576
Graphics chipset Intel GMA 950
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 0
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0


Capacity 160GB
Hard disk usable capacity 149GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA
Optical disc technology N/A
Optical drive N/A
Battery capacity 4,700mAh
Replacement battery price ex VAT £50
Replacement battery price inc VAT £58


Wired adapter speed 100Mbits/sec
802.11a support no
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support no
Integrated 3G adapter no

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 1
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel 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
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no

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

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