The IdeaPad has picked up a lot of early buzz due to its impressive bezel design, which on first glance, appears to be slightly better than the competition in terms of build quality, perhaps due to the long history of IBM's notebook division. Now that the same teams are working under the Lenovo name, the bar is certainly set higher for Lenovo's first netbook entry.
Unfortunately, of the colors which the IdeaPad is offered (black and white now, pink, red and blue available later), the white model which we're looking at today, is the most bland variant, in our eyes. The press shots of the model on Lenovo's website make the white look sleek and almost silvery, whereas the final product tends to edge toward a beige colored plastic. We would really like to see a bit more finesse with Lenovo's white model in regards to material finishes. Judging from the shots on Lenovo's website, we would likely opt for the black model, which looks somewhat sleeker than the white one we have here, in our opinion.
On the plus side, the shape of the IdeaPad S10 is likely one of the best we've seen from the netbook crowd to date, as the S10 has a sturdy feel to it along with a very streamlined, refined design. It's a modern design with lots of smooth edges and chrome bits on the outside. The S10, by itself, weighs 2.65 pounds and has dimensions which are a bit smaller compared to similarly classed netbooks. It's definitely light enough and small enough to easily be tossed into a bag to go with you on the road and will be rugged enough to take some jolts. The build quality is up to par with what we would expect from Lenovo, very good.
However, when you open up the S10, much of the initial excitement wears down when you looking at the keyboard. At least with the white color, the keys look somewhat toy-like and the button quality does not really match up with the initial impressions. Granted, we're dealing with a $399 netbook, so we're not amazed that they didn't go all out with an ultra-sleek keyboard, but the S10's keyboard could use a bit more love from Lenovo's design teams. Within a few minutes of typing on the unit, I had already managed to pop a key out of its holder with normal typing pressure. Not a good sign for long-term reliability.
The keyboard is about as compact as most netbooks, which means keys are about 75% of their normal size and there is no num-pad. The S10, much like the new Asus EeePC 1000H model, suffers from a bad placement of the right shift key, putting it in a non-standard area right under Enter. Initial reaction - this is not a keyboard which you would want to type large amounts of content on. For browsing the web and writing short emails, the keyboard will be sufficient.
The IdeaPad has three buttons above the keyboard, two of them are fairly standard as a power switch and a Wi-Fi/BlueTooth hardware switch. The other button with a red arrow is Lenovo's own custom OneKey backup solution. Hitting the button opens up Lenovo's OneKey Recovery Software, which is tasteful, simple to use, and effective. The software more or less is a glorified .iso creation utility, but with all of the functions to automate a backup into an image, burn it to a DVD and have it be bootable with your entire OS image, it becomes very simple to perform high-quality backups with very little work. A full hard disk backup to an .iso file took about 25 minutes from start to finish, although only about 30 seconds of that took any actual work on our part.
Wi-Fi, Backup, and Power Buttons
The trackpad on the IdeaPad is about as simple as they come, with a basic matte white finish and two chrome buttons for left and right clicks. The trackpad is significantly smaller compared to most trackpads we're used to using, but we did not find this to be a particular nuisance.