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 in August, but only started shipping in late September.
Our review unit has 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. We liked the chunky, squared-off design, and the IdeaPad S10 is a little thinner than Asus' thick 10-inch Eee PC 1000. 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.
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 enough for basic YouTube purposes.
The 10.2-inch widescreen display has a 1,024x600-pixel native resolution, 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 Lenovo S10 is not going to match up with Lenovo's normally high-powered business systems or 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, closely matching 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 three-cell variety. Unfortunately, the battery lasted about as long as other three-cell netbooks we've tested, such as the MSI Wind, coming in at two hours and 13 minutes on our video playback battery drain test. Dell manages to get more than three hours out of the Mini 9's four-cell battery, while netbooks with six-cell batteries, including the Asus Eee PC 1000, lasted for more than five hours.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo Ideapad S10
Windows XP Home Edition SP3; 1.6GHz Intel Atom; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; 64MB Mobile Intel 945 Express; 160GB Western Digital 5,400rpm.
Dell Inspiron Mini 9
Windows XP Home Edition SP3; 1.6GHz Intel Atom; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; 64MB Mobile Intel 945 Express; STEC 16GB SSD.
Acer Aspire One
Linpus Linux Lite v1.0.2.E; 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270; 512MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; Mobile Intel 945GME Express; 8GB solid-state drive.
Asus Eee PC 901
Windows XP Home Edition SP2; 1.6GHz Intel Atom; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 400MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel 945 Express; 12GB Phison solid-state drive.
MSI Wind U100-002LA
Windows XP Home Edition SP3; 1.6GHz Intel Atom; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 400MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel 945 Express; 80GB Western Digital 5,400rpm.
Sylvania G Netbook
Linux; 1.2GHz VIA C7-M; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; VIA UniChrome Pro IGP; 30GB HDD.