Those who follow the ever-growing netbook market have been waiting for one conspicuous straggler to arrive. Lenovo's IdeaPad S10 Netbook was announced way back on 4 August 2008, but only started shipping in late September.
Our review unit had an Intel Atom CPU, 1GB of RAM and a standard 5,400rpm 160GB hard drive, as opposed to the smaller SSD hard drives found in many other netbooks (including Dell's recent ). The unit on sale in the UK offers 512MB of RAM and an 80GB hard drive for £320, so keep in mind that our tests in this review will have slightly different results compared with what you'll buy in the UK. Upgrades, which are not currently available on Lenovo's Web site, should should be available in the future, though we don't know when.
We liked the chunky, squared-off design that's still a little thinner than Asus' thick 10-inch . There's a decent-sized keyboard (for a netbook), which doesn't feel the need to knock out a row of function keys or mess around too much with the standard layout (we're looking at you, Dell). The touch pad is marginally smaller than the one on Dell's Mini 9, but we liked the slightly textured surface on the S10, which kept our fingers from dragging, as can happen on overly glossy touch pad surfaces. The S10 comes in red, black and white.
We were also very pleased to see an ExpressCard/34 slot, which is rare on smaller systems, but very useful for adding after-market extras, such as a mobile broadband modem. Speakers, usually an afterthought on netbooks, were located under a grill that runs along the front lip of the system. One should never depend on tiny speakers like this, but the volume was at least loud for basic YouTube purposes.
The 10.2-inch widescreen display has a 1,024x600-pixel , which is standard for 9- and 10-inch netbooks, and not too far removed from the 1,280x800-pixel resolution common in most laptops up to 15 inches.
With Intel's now-standard 1.6GHz Atom N270 CPU, specifically designed for low-power netbooks, the S10 is not going to match up with Lenovo's normally high-powered business systems, nor will it deliver the same level of performance you'd get from even an inexpensive Core 2 Duo. Still, for Web surfing, email and working on office documents -- which is 90 per cent of what most people do on their laptops anyway -- the S10 performed about as expected. It closely matched the Asus Eee PC 901 and MSI Wind in our iTunes performance test.
With impressive battery scores from Lenovo's mainstream laptops, we had high hopes for the S10's battery, even though it's of the smaller 3-cell variety. Unfortunately, the battery lasted about as long as other 3-cell netbooks we've tested, such as the MSI Wind, coming in at 2 hours and 13 minutes on our video playback battery drain test. Dell manages to get more than 3 hours out of the Mini 9's 4-cell battery, while netbooks with 6-cell batteries, including the Asus Eee PC 1000, lasted for more than 5 hours.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
All in all, we were pleased with the thin design and ExpressCard/34 slot despite the netbook's small size. The S10 performed well, though it didn't blow us out of the water -- it's a good little netbook, but really just another one to add to the ever-growing pile. Our biggest disappointment was the battery life, which was merely average when we expected it to excel. But that isn't a deal-breaker, since other 3-cell notebooks gave similar results.
Edited by Marian Smith