Lenovo IdeaPad S10-2 Netbook Review

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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