Lenovo IdeaPad S10e Review, Specs

This is the Lenovo IdeaPad S10e. One of the earlier 10-inch netbooks to be released this year. I don’t think the “e” version is available in the US, but this version comes with a 6-cell battery and an OS that instantly boots up called “Splashtop”.

Lenovo Ideapad S10e specs

Here are the specs for the IdeaPad S10e:

10.1” LED screen (1024 x 576)
Intel Atom N270 (1.6GHz) Processor
1GB RAM
160 GB HDD (SATA 2.5”)
6-Cell Battery
ExpressCard Slot
1.3 MP Webcam
4-in-1 Multi-card Reader
802.11b/g Wi-Fi
Bluetooth

Splashtop OS


The “Splashtop” OS which looks to be built on Linux, loads in 10 seconds upon which you are presented several options. Browse the web, play music, browse photos, chat or Skype or go on to load Windows XP or shut down. Other than that there is nothing much else, the interface is minimal but there are a few options like auto hiding the taskbar or having it on the side or top. It then takes another 8 seconds or so to load up a webpage in your browser. I had no problems web browsing after configuring my wireless. Finally it took 10 seconds to shut down. Not bad if you need to quickly check your email.

Build Quality and Design

The lid and the bottom are semi glossy, while the battery, which sticks out the back and below a little, and the insides are made from a more matte material which feels really cheap. Reminds me of this cheap plastic table we have at school). The right side of the palm rest sounds a bit hollow when I tap it. There is more screen flex than I would like especially at the base of the screen, and you will notice it just touching it softly. Apart that that, it feels very solid. Opening up the lid feels as stiff as the Eee PC 1000H which is not bad since it instills a sense of sturdiness. The metallic rings at opposite ends of the lid hinge are a nice touch.

Noise
When the fan is at the lowest level, you can only hear the fan if you put your ear to the keyboard and it remains at this level maybe 50% of the time. When the fan kicks up a level you can definitely hear it concentrated at the left air vent. When I was using it in bed in complete silence the higher fan kept switching on and off every minute which was annoying. I can tolerate it.

Keyboard and Trackpad

I have a Japanese keyboard so I will be talking about this one. I can’t speak for the US one, but it does look better and the keys look larger than the Japanese one.  Here’s a link to the US one.

Lenovo IdeaPad S10e Review (13)

What a shame! There is definitely room to fit in a much better keyboard. There is a little wasted space on each side of the keyboard. Most netbooks push the keyboard right till the edge. It feels like a cross between a Dell Mini 9 keyboard and an Asus Aspire One A150 keyboard. Some important keys are slivers too; Notably the CTRL and TAB key are tiny slivers which means you have to look at the keyboard to do keyboard shortcuts or navigate web forms. Furthermore, the arrow keys are not assigned home, end, pageup and pagedown which is very useful for people who navigate the cursor, or cut and paste by keyboard. Now that’s out of the way, the keyboard does feel nice and satisfying.

To sum it up you have a 10-inch netbook with a 9-inch keyboard. I like the Aspire One A150’s keyboard better.

Lenovo IdeaPad S10e Review (3)

Now, as for the trackpad it looks as small vertically and horizontally as the Aspire One’s but you have buttons on the bottom. Scrolling on the right hand side was responsive. They could have made the trackpad larger vertically as there is some wasted space between the keyboard and the trackpad. The two buttons are noisy and a little stiff but not as stiff as the 1000H ones. If I had to choose between the Aspire One’s and this, I would pick this one mainly because the buttons are at the bottom.

Display

The S10e screen is a little unusual in that the screen is a little shorter vertically than other netbook screens. It is a 10.1 inch screen compared to the usual size of 10.2 inches and has a resolution of 1024 x 576 (as opposed to the netbook standard 1024 x 600). So you lose 24 pixels and gain smaller or no black borders viewing movies and perhaps a slightly smaller netbook. On these small screens every vertical pixel counts especially when browsing the web.

It’s a glossy display and it’s satisfying enough, viewing angles are what you’d expect on a netbook. Hard to tell but the 1000H is slightly brighter than the S10e. Overall I’m happy with the screen. The bezel around the screen is so thin! A first for a netbook.

Size and Weight

Comparison of three netbooks. Left most: Asus Eee PC S101, Middle: Lenovo IdeaPad S10e, Right: Asus Eee PC 1000H.

In the below picture, the 1000H on the left, and the S101 on the right:

The S10e is one of the smallest 10-inch netbooks. I said it already but I love how thin the bezel is around the screen, not even the S101’s bezel is this thin. In order to get it this small, they had to sacrifice trackpad and keyboard space. The power brick is slightly bigger than the Asus 901 / 1000H range power brick, as is the power plug. The 6-cell battery sticks out and goes downward.

Here is a size comparison of 10-inch netbooks:

Size (mm)    Width    Length    Height
Lenovo S10e    250    196    22-36
Samsung NC10    261    185    30
Eee PC S101    264    181    18-25
HP Mini 1000    262    167    25
Appearances are deceiving and I keep thinking the S10e is lighter than it really is due to it’s compact size. It’s actually one of the heavier 10-inch netbooks.

Weight comparison of 10-inch netbooks (with 6-cell battery where possible):

Weight (lbs)
Asus N10J/c    3.5
Eee PC 1000H    3.2
Lenovo S10e    3.0
Samsung NC10    2.8
MSI Wind    2.6
Eee PC 1000HA    2.6
HP Mini 1000    2.3
Eee PC S101    2.2
With the power adapter, the total weight comes to 3.3 pounds for the S10e.

Ports, Upgradability and Buttons

The S10e is one of the rare netbooks to have a ExpressCard Slot, like the HP Mini 2133 and Asus N10J/c. That should be handy for mobile wireless broadband. There is an air vent on the left side towards the rear and the speaker is located toward the front.

Lenovo IdeaPad S10e Review (4)

On the left hand side there is a power plug, VGA port, Card reader and USB port. I like having the power plug on the left, as it doesn’t get in the way of using a mouse or note-taking on the right.

On the right hand side there is a Kensington lock in the screen hinge, a LAN port, USB port, microphone and headphone ports and an ExpressCard slot.

On the back, taking off the lid, you have access to the hard drive and RAM.

Below the screen there are only three buttons. A power button, a customizable quick-access button to launch commonly used programs and a button to turn off wireless. I find them a bit hard to press as they dip below the surface and you need to use your fingernails to properly press them in. The power button is fine though.

The microphone is located just below the keyboard on the left hand side towards the edge of the netbook.

Sound, Microphone and Webcam

The sound on the S10e is no match for the Asus 1000H, the volume at maximum on the S10e is equal to about half of the Asus 1000H’s. Sound is slightly tinny and muffled. Better than the Aspire One and MSI Wind laptops. The speakers on my Eee PC S101 were slightly louder and sounded slightly better. Listening through headphones sounded good. No hissing.

I tested out Skype with the microphone and I had to turn on “Noise Suppression” and “Acoustic Echo Cancellation” to turn off static noise in the background of my recorded voice. Volume seemed a little low but it was audible and should be fine.

The webcam worked really well, the image was nice and bright and even in low light situations. There’s no light to indicate that the webcam is currently on.

Battery Life

Battery life was a little shorter than I was hoping for with a 6-cell battery. I was expecting around 5.5 hours but I got between roughly 4-5 hours. Here are some figures I obtained through real life usage below. I always had brightness just high enough so viewing was comfortable indoors. Usage was mainly web browsing.

5h 11m (Brightness 3 notches from left, wifi on, bt off, super energy saver)

4h 50m (Battery Eater 2.70 – lowest brightness, wifi on, bt off, super energy saver)

4h 07m (Brightness 4 notches from left, wifi on, bt off, low power mode)

There are two power saving modes: low power mode and super energy saver modes, super energy saver being the mode saving the most battery life. I liked the customization of Lenovo’s power modes. Super Energy Saver turns off basically everything. Speakers, Webcam, BT, Wireless, lowers the bit-depth of the display and more, but you can configure what items you want to keep on.

Performance

Unlike the Eee PC with it’s “Super Hybrid Engine” there is new mode that overclocks the CPU. The highest mode, “Performance” mode sets the CPU speed to 1.6GHz and drops back to 800MHz occasionally while the “Balanced” mode stays at 800MHz and occasionally ramps up to 1.6GHz.

The 160GB hard drive was slightly slower than what I’ve seen previously on netbooks with 160GB hard drives. The hard drive inside by a Hitachi HTS543216L9SA00. Hard drive speed of 53 / 49 (Read / Write MB/s). Compare that to the Eee PC 1000H which has a 61 / 61 R/W speed or to the Asus N10J which has a 67 / 67 RW speed. The MSI Wind and Acer Aspire One A150 hard drives were also faster than this one.

I will let benchmark figures do the talking now:

CrystalMark 2004R3

Lenovo IdeaPad S10e Specs
CrystalDiskMark 2.2

Lenovo IdeaPad S10e Review
PCMark05
PCMark Score: N/A
CPU Score: 1483
Memory Score: 2380
Graphics Score: N/A
HDD Score: 3740
Shut down and boot up times are a little on the slow slide.
Boot Up Time : 34 secs (until Windows XP desktop shows)
Shut Down Time: 32 secs

Lenovo S10e Review Summary

Pros
Small Footprint
ExpressCard Slot
Quick loading “Splashtop” OS
Cons
One of the heavier 10-inch netbooks
Not enough vertical trackpad space
Subpar keyboard for a 10-inch netbook
Slow Hard Disk Performance
Screen flex