Review: Lenovo IdeaPad S10-2

 
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Published: July 19, 2009 11:00 PM
By Florent Alzieu

The second Lenovo netbook, the S10-2 follows on from the first version, the S10, tested back in January 2009. For this model, the manufacturer claims to bring together stylish design and ease-of-use.

Handling & Connectivity
The materials in the S10-2's case are a mixture of glossy (behind the screen) and matte (around the keyboard and the screen). The whole thing is well-finished, and there's just one element that caught our attention: the plastic components in the hinge bend under pressure. Its general look is relatively traditional and a long way from the extravagance of the Samsung N310.

The keyboard occupies most of the space available, and includes a lot of keys, including PgUp and PgDn above the arrow keys. One point that irritated us was the location of the Fn key, at the bottom left, in place of the Ctrl key. If you're used to typing without looking, it's easy to make mistakes when using shortcuts to copy and paste. The multitouch trackpad is not the biggest we've ever seen, but measures 5.5 x 3.4 cm.

Typical webcam shot

We noticed the loud sound of the fans whirring up when the netbook is performing complex tasks. A typical example is running a complicated Photoshop script that needs a lot of CPU cycles. Apart from these moments, the machine remains largely quiet.

There are two problems with the webcam: it stretches images vertically (like the IdeaPad Y650), and its microphone is hidden in the keyboard. That means it picks up the sound of the netbook operating, and becomes entirely unusable if you're typing at the same time. Another point that makes using this webcam interesting is the very narrow crop it has. If you keep it on your lap, it only captures your face. To see more, you need to sit further back from the laptop.

On the sides of the machine, there are three USB ports, one VGA, one RJ45, a pair of mini-jacks and an SD card reader. It's the bare minimum that you'll find on the majority of netbooks.

Underneath, two flaps provide access to the 2.5'' 160 GB Western Digital hard drive, a WiFi card and 1 GB of RAM from Sharetronic.

2 USB
RJ45
 SD card reader
VGA, USB, 2 mini jacks

Processor Power
There's little real change from one machine to the next. The Intel Atom CPU is at the centre of it all and sets the pace. On average, calculations take five times longer than on a more powerful computer with a dual-core processor. There's nothing you can't do, though--you'll just need some patience.

When playing video, this computer reaches its limits with very large HD files including Blu-ray content.

Audio
This is without doubt the best netbook we've ever heard. The headphone output does suffer from a slight rattle that disappears as soon as there is a signal. The speakers aren't excellent, but they're still the best--or the least worst--that we've found on a netbook.

Battery Life & Portability
The S10-2 weighs just over one kilo with its three-cell battery, which is very good for a 10'' model. Unfortunately, though, this is ruined by its battery life: it managed just 2 hours 18 minutes on our standard test (continuous video playback, WiFi turned off, screen at 100 cd/m²). It's a very poor score, and a long way behind the U115's 7 hours.

There will also be a version of this netbook with a six-cell battery, and we've already asked Lenovo if we can test a model. When and if we can, we'll be sure to update this test with news of how the high-capacity version performs.
3/5 Lenovo IdeaPad S10-2 DigitalVersus 2009-07-20 00:00:00

Pros

  • Light
  • Audio quality from speakers and headphone jack
  • Complete keyboard
  • Easy to access components

Cons

  • Glossy finish on screen
  • CPU and graphics performance
  • 2 hours 18 minutes battery life using three-cell battery
  • Poor quality screen

Conclusion

Lenovo has made the same mistake of including a glossy screen on this netbook. Worse still, with a three cell battery it can only last 2 hours 18 minutes. Two points make up for this: the quality of the sound and its lightweight frame. When it goes on sale, the S10-2 should have a bigger battery, and we'll update this test once we've tested it.

OUR SCORE 3/5
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