If the Lenovo IdeaPad S10 had come along 6 months ago, we probably would have crowned it the best little netbook around. But after having seen the likes of the Eee PC 1000H and the HP Mini 1001TU, the Lenovo comes off looking a little second-best.
Take, for example, the connection options. The latest Eee models come with 3 USB ports, while the S10 has just two. Although it includes an Expresscard/34 slot – a surprising but welcome addition – it lacks Bluetooth
In look and feel, too, it comes off just slightly second-best.
The trackpad is tiny compared to the HP Mini 1001TU, and its white blocky design is nowhere near as attractive as the Aspire One or HP Mini – although it is reminiscent of the lightweight, but considerably more expensive, NEC S9100.
The big plus for the S10 is its hard drive. At 160GB it’s right at the top of the netbook pile for storage, along with the Aspire One. The other specifications are as expected, from the 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 processor to the 1GB RAM.
These components are built into an impressively solid chassis, which can withstand knocks and bumps with ease.
The screen is another nice touch. at 10.2in, the 1024 x 600 screen performed well when viewing video and throughout our benchmarks.
Sadly, however, the battery life is the big drawback for the Lenovo. We should qualify up front that our battery testing had a few hiccups where the S10 was concerned: we were unable to change the power management settings from their defaults, meaning that in order to run our light use test, we had to touch the trackpad every five minutes to ensure that the machine didn’t sleep.
This may have shortened the battery life correspondingly – the S10 earned a paltry 2hrs 19mins in our light use test. For the heavy use test, on the other hand, we were able to run all tests without any tweaking and still only recorded 1hr 49mins. Those results are the poorest we’ve seen for a netbook.
Despite our misgivings over battery life, the S10 performs as well as any other netbook with a score of 0.40 in our benchmarks, and its ease of use is superior to smaller Eee PCs – lifting it into the same kind of usability as the Wind or the Aspire One.
The keyboard is spacious and responsive, and although the trackpad is far smaller than we’d like on a 10in netbook, it’s serviceable and feels natural to use.
Conveniently, there’s a trackpad on/off switch above the trackpad in deference to the fact that most people will prefer a mouse – a nice touch we’ve seen on only two netbooks to date. Overall, though, the battery life results mean that it’s just not as competitive as it needs to be against the range of current netbooks.
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