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Lenovo IdeaPad S10-2 Netbook Review
Date: Jul 09, 2009
Author: Shawn Oliver
Introduction and Specifications

Lenovo's S10-2 is an somewhat of an odd proposition for netbook buyers. For those who completely missed out on the IdeaPad S10, this is a welcome update and a solid overall contender in the netbook space. For those familiar with the original, two feelings are apt to surface: bitterness and / or confusion. Indeed, the changes found on the IdeaPad S10-2 are minor, with most of the hardware remaining exactly the same. In fact, the vast majority of the tweaks are completely cosmetic, though we do think much thought went into this overhaul.

Rather than dishing out a completely new netbook at the 10.1" level, Lenovo instead opted to stick with its S10 label and push out a new revision. Here's a rundown of what's new compared to the original IdeaPad S10:
  • 0.2kg (0.44lbs.) lighter
  • 4mm thinner
  • New top lid with special cover pattern and color design
  • New Dolby sound enhancements
  • 89% full-size keyboard with enlarged right-Shift key
  • Larger touchpad
  • Optional 3G built-in
  • One extra USB port (now a total of three)
  • OneKey Rescue System
  • Lenovo QuickStart
  • Up to six hours of battery life, or around 30% more than before

Lenovo IdeaPad S10-2 Netbook
Specifications and Features (as tested)

"Lenovo today announced the IdeaPad S10-2 netbook to give online enthusiasts, social networkers and mobile consumers the latest in connectivity, entertainment and performance features to keep them better connected and enjoying their computing experience anytime, anywhere. The new IdeaPad S10-2 netbook gives consumers even cooler netbook features – models with 3G connectivity and the rich sound of Dolby headphone technology for music and movies and long battery life. Lenovo also made the IdeaPad S10-2 netbook thinner and lighter than the previous IdeaPad S10 netbook, and packaged the netbook in an expressive, colorful new ring pattern design.
" - Lenovo

  • Intel Atom N270 @ 1.60GHz, 533MHz FSB, 512KB L2 cache
  • 1GB of PC2-5300 DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz 
  • 10.1 inch LCD (1024x600 resolution); LED backlight
  • Intel GMA 950 integrated graphics
  • Intel 945GSE chipset
  • 160 GB WD Scorpio Blue WD1600BEVT (5400RPM) 2.5 inch SATA II hard drive
  • Broadcom 802.11b/g Wi-Fi
  • No optical drive
  • 1.3 megapixel webcam
  • VGA Output
  • USB 2.0 x 3
  • RJ-45 (Ethernet 10/100)
  • Headphone / Mic Input Jacks
  • MMC/SD card reader
  • Twin Dolby speakers
  • Industry standard multi-touch touchpad
  • 89% full-size keyboard
  • ~2 Pounds (with battery installed)
  • ~1.25 inches thick
  • Removable 6-cell Li-ion Battery (Up To 6 Claimed Hours of Computing)
  • 9.8” (W) x 7.2” (D) x 1.25” (H)
  • Windows XP Home
  • Color Options: White, Black, Pink, Gray
  • 1-year limited warranty
Comparison with IdeaPad S10

For whatever reason, Lenovo didn't take the opportunity to really refresh its S10 netbook with the S10-2. As the title implies, this is an incremental upgrade, and one that shouldn't bother owners of the original. In fact, we'd wager that this update was created more so to measure up to other 10.1" netbooks than to lure those who already purchased the original.

Click Any To Enlarge

As we highlighted during the introduction, there are hardly any notable changes here internally. Both the S10 and S10-2 share the same CPU (Intel's aging Atom N270), the same amount of RAM (1GB of DDR2) and the same GPU (Intel's GMA950). In fact, the only major difference on the entire mainboard is the addition of another USB 2.0 socket.

The other changes are either totally cosmetic or highly subtle. It's marginally thinner and lighter and the top cover is entirely more attractive. We'd say that it's one of the nicest looking lids on a netbook to date, but if you're not looking for flash, you won't find an S10-2 with any "plain" lids. Lenovo also tweaked the keyboard, increasing its size to 89% full-size and enlarging the incredibly important right Shift key.

Click Any To Enlarge

We should stop here and point out just how significant this update really is. When typing, we had a much more enjoyable time banging out e-mails and the like on the S10-2. On far too many netbooks--even those with "larger" keyboards--we struggle to re-learn how to strike the right Shift and Delete keys. On the IdeaPad S10-2, both of these buttons were perfectly placed. We experienced the fewest errors ever on a netbook on this keyboard, so heavy typists should definitely take note.

Lenovo also claims that the touchpad is larger, but we're having a hard time noticing. The surface still feels cramped, and the lack of true multi-touch is another bummer. Both the left and right click buttons are far too small for extended use, and the copious amount of space on the palm rest makes us wonder why it didn't break from the mold and serve up a wider trackpad. An opportunity missed in our book.

Click To Enlarge

One of the larger changes is the addition of optional WWAN. In other words, users who need mobile broadband everywhere, and don't already own a 3G data card, can select an S10-2 with built-in 3G for $50 over the baseline $349.99 MSRP. Finally, there's OneKey Rescue and Lenovo Quick Start, two applications that you aren't apt to use with any level of frequency, but nice inclusions nonetheless.

One area where the IdeaPad S10-2 shined over its predecessor was battery life. Lenovo doesn't really trumpet this machine's longevity, but we're here to tell you that it's one of the first netbooks we've ever seen where the claimed battery life and the actual battery life were nearly in sync. The 6-cell battery that's included does jut out slightly from the rear, but it bends downward as if to create a sort of arc stand, thus making it acceptable in our eyes. Lenovo asserts that you'll get six hours from the battery, and we squeezed out 5 hours and 31 minutes in our testing. That's real world testing, mind you. We'll touch more on that later, but it's an impressive upgrade for sure.


 SiSoftware Sandra (the System Analyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information and diagnostic utility. It should provide most of the information (including undocumented) you need to know about your hardware, software and other devices.

 SiSoftware Sandra
CPU, HDD, Memory

Click To Enlarge

The Intel Atom N270 (1.60GHz) fared fine in Sandra's CPU-specific test. It exhibited plenty of power for basic tasks and light-duty multimedia playback, but it's certainly not potent enough to push any serious pixels in 3D gaming. Overall, results here were as expected, though we would've enjoyed seeing an Atom N280 to better separate the S10-2 from the S10.

Click To Enlarge

In the CPU multimedia testing, the N270 held its own and didn't feel tremendously slower than other netbooks we've tested with Intel's Atom N280, but it still looks weak when compared to chips found in full-size notebooks. These tests make us long for a seriously revamped Atom, as anything at or beyond 720p was simply unwatchable.

Click To Enlarge

As with everyone other vanilla netbook with WinXP, the Lenovo IdeaPad S10-2 didn't exhibit the strongest scores in the memory bandwidth department. But really, would you expect anything different from a single-channel configuration with only one 1GB stick of DDR2 RAM?

Click To Enlarge

Our 160 GB WD Scorpio Blue WD1600BEVT (5400RPM) drive stacked up well against similar models in the benchmarks, but we did feel a bit of lag when booting up applications for the first time, particularly coming from an SSD-equipped Neutrino netbook. Things were rather snappy once loaded, though.

To test multimedia capabilities, we attempt to play back a 720p WMVHD clip, a 720p H.264 clip and a 1080p clip.

Click To Enlarge; 720p H.264

Click To Enlarge; 720p WMVHD

Click To Enlarge; 1080p

As with the Eee PC 1005HA, the 720p WMVHD clip was the only one that played back "smoothly." The 720p H.264 and 1080p files froze in place occasionally, dropped frames, and refused to play back in what we would consider a "smooth" fashion.  Intel's GMA950 integrated graphics core doesn't offer full video decode offload from the host processor.  Part of the issue here could be CODEC optimization and the multimedia player being used but in reality, the out-of-the-box experience in this area was simply lacking, as expected frankly.

Battery Life

Lenovo's IdeaPad S10-2 ships with a six-cell battery, which is fairly standard for netbooks these days. What's unusual, however, is just how close the reported life and the actual life were in our testing. As we've discussed time and time again, most notebook makers suggest that their machines can last far longer on a single charge than they really can in real-world use. Thankfully, that's not the case on this machine. Lenovo asserts that users can get six hours out of a full battery, and we were able to squeeze out 5 hours and 31 minutes.

Battery Info & Performance
Testing with BatteryEater Pro

Our Classic Test here does a great job of putting the netbook through a "real-world" work environment to see just how long your battery will last under pressure. In fact, we're willing to bet that users could see more than six hours of total life should they disable WiFi, dim the LCD brightness and not use the hard drive extensively. As you can see above, the original IdeaPad S10 that we tested only mustered 210 minutes, while the S10-2 lasted 331 minutes -- that's just over two extra hours. The only two machines that we've tested that lasted longer were a pair of Asus' Eee PCs, both of which claimed to last far longer than they actually did yet still came dangerously close the six hour mark. Bravo for being honest here Lenovo, and double bravo for getting 5.5 hours from your S10-2.

Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: In our SiSoftware Sandra testing, the S10-2 managed to perform exactly as we expected considering just how familiar this specification list has become. In other words, it's not significantly stronger or weaker than any other Windows XP-powered netbook out there, though it performs most similarly to the N270-equipped rivals out there. Basic tasks were handled with relative ease (a minor amount of lag when multi-tasking; nothing out of the ordinary for a low-power netbook), though 3D gaming is a no-go. Select 720p clips (WMVHD) played back relatively smoothly, though 720p H.264 and 1080p multimedia clips could not play back well at all on the weak GMA 950 graphics.

The S10-2 is a great option for those in the market for a new 10.1" netbook today. We have reason to believe that Windows 7 netbooks, which can finally skip Microsoft's tough hardware limitations that are keeping WinXP netbooks from progressing, will be much better options when the OS debuts in October, but there are still a few months to go before that occurs. If you have an original S10, there's no need whatsoever to upgrade. If you're looking for a new standard 10.1" netbook, however, the S10-2 deserves a serious look. It has one of the nicest keyboards we've used, performance was great given the hardware within and the battery life was stupendous.

Click To Enlarge

Still, don't expect this to do things that other netbooks cannot--aside from accept three USB 2.0 devices at once, which it most certainly can handle. Even light duty gaming is a no-go here, and you can pretty much bank on 720p+ content not playing back smoothly. Also, you're really buying aged parts here--this exact same configuration has been available on other netbooks for months, literally. The biggest gripe we have with this machine is the $349.99 MSRP (+$50 for integrated 3G). With these specs, the price tag shouldn't be a dime over $300, if that. Windows 7 is right around the bend, and if you can hold off, we'd recommend it. If not, the S10-2 deserves high consideration alongside Asus' Eee PC 1005HA and 1000HE.

  • Nice Design
  • Fantastic Keyboard
  • Three USB 2.0 Ports
  • Quiet
  • Great Battery Life


  • Multimedia Performance
  • Battery Sticks Out Somewhat
  • Small Trackpad
  • Glossy Panel
  • Atom N270 + GMA 950 Is Old Hat


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