10 May 2009

Lenovo Ideapad S10e

A well-built netbook from Lenovo that deserves a better battery

While it seems every notebook manufacturer has a netbook or two in their portfolio, a notable absentee has been Lenovo, something that was rectified late last year when the long-awaited Ideapad Sloe appeared. a well-designed nctbook that cries out for a bigger battery.

One look at its design and you can toll who made it — Lenovo could have named it the Thinkpad Mini, which, in some people's eyes is already enough reason to buy one. As well as the familia,- black look the Ideapad is also available in white and red and, despite its plastic construction. the build quality is good enough to survive life on the road.

There are no surprises here: an Intel Atom N270 1.6GHz CPU is coupled with the Intel 945GSI: chipsct tha: provides the integrated GMA950 graphics. Performance is akin to Samsung's NC10 and MSI's Wind; PCmark05 CPU score of 2,395 and a Cinebench single CPU test score of 89 are right in the middle of the standard figures for this type of netbook.

The Ideapad comes with 1GB of PC2-5300 DDR2 memory which is split into two parts; 512MB is soldered to the motherboard while the single Sodimm slot holds a 512MB memory module, so if you want a bit more performance you can replace it with a 1GB module - 1.5GB is the most the motherboard can support. Upgrading the memory - and for that matter replacing the hard drive - is a doddle. as both sit under a door in the underside of the Ideapad.

As standard it comes with a 160G3 5,400rpm Western Digital hard drive with Windows XP Home installed. There is a Suse Linux version available that has an 80GB hard disk (1270).

You also get a four-in-one card reader and a surprise in the form of a 34mm Express card slot which can be used to expand he Ideapad's capabilities with additional USB ports, an eSata card cr, perhaps the most useful option, a mobile broadband modem.

The 10.1in wSVGA LED backlit TrT screen has a 1,024x576 pixel resolution with a matt coating so you can use it comfortably in a well-lit office or outside on a bright day The screen produces images that have sharp colours and good contrast. The top bezel of the screen is home to a 1.3-megap,xel webcarn.

Lenovo is renowned for its notebook keyboards and thankfully the Ideapad follows the family tradition. albeit on a much smaller scale, but even so the build quality of the keyboard is first rate. The keybed has very little, if any, flex to it and, although the keys are very small, the way they have been designed makes the keyboard easy to use even if you have large fingers. The touchpad has been given a slightly textured finish making it easy and comfortable to use.

Apart from the previously mentioned Express Card slot and card reader the rest of the ports are standard netbook fare; two USB2, two audio and a VGA out port. The same rule applies to the communications suite; 802 11 big Wifi, 10/100Mbits/sec Ethernet and Bluetooth 2 CDR.

The only real letdown with the Ideapad, and it's not alone in this, is the short life of the three-cell 2,603rnAH battery. When it was tested in everyday use the battery lasted just one nour, 51 minutes, while in ebook mode it produced a lowly two hours, 43 minutes, and like many of its competitors it could really do with a six-cell battery. Simon Crisp

Personal Computer World April 2009


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