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Lenovo IdeaPad S10-2 Hands On Review

Written By: James Rintamaki on June 24, 2009 16 Comments

lenovo s10-2 vs s10 side by side

If the Lenovo Ideapad S10 is the male, the new S10-2 would be the sleek and slender female – it’s made from (mostly) the same parts but with a different exterior.  The S10-2 was redesigned from the S10 to have a glossy screen and lid, more defined curved edges, 4mm thinner, 5.5oz lighter, and larger keyboard and touchpad.  Was the redesign of the S10 a success?  Continue on to find out!

Specifications:

Below are the specifications of the S10-2 reviewed here (as well as the S10 that it will be compared to):

  S10-2 S10
Processor: Atom N270 1.6Ghz, 533mhz Atom N270 1.6GHz, 533Mhz
Memory: 2GB DDR2-800 2GB DDR2-800
Hard Drive: 160GB SATA 1.5GB/s Western Digital Scorpio Blue 160GB SATA 1.5GB/s Western Digital Scorpio Blue
Display: 10.1” 1024×600, Glossy, LED,
300:1, 1.3mp webcam
10.2” 1024×600, Matte, LED,
300:1, 1.3mp webcam
Graphics: Intel GMA950, 945GSE Intel GMA950, 945GSE
Keyboard Size: 89% 85%
Weight (6 cell): 2lbs 11oz 3 lbs 0oz
Dimensions: 10.2” x 7.6” x 0.7”-1.8” 9.8” x 7.7” x 0.9”-1.4”
Ports: 3xUSB, VGA, Ethernet 2xUSB, VGA, Ethernet
Express Card: no yes
Card Reader: 4-in-1 4-in-1
Operating System: Windows XP Home SP3 Windows XP Home SP3
Battery: 6 cell 6 cell

Unboxing & glamour shots:

Hopefully yours will be handled better during shipment, or at least put inside a proper shipping box, because mine basically came pre-opened and a little crushed :-\

lenovo s10-2 boxed

However, upon opening it, everything looked fine and upon booting it up, more importantly everything worked fine!

lenovo s10-2 unboxed

As you can see, you get your standard array of pamphlets/manuals, as well as the battery, ac adapter, and of course the netbook. 

And here we have the glamour shots — we’ll start off showing the left (ethernet, exhaust, vga, usb, mic/headphone) and right (wireless switch, 2 usb’s, lock, and power jack) sides:

lenovo s10-2 left side 6 cell lenovo s10-2 right side 6 cell

The top (glossy and checkered-like pattern lid) and bottom (notice the two downward firing speakers on the left and right):

lenovo s10-2 top lenovo s10-2 bottom

And last but not least, a shot of it straight on with the lid open (with the memory card slot towards the right):

lenovo_s10-2_straight_on

 

Screen:

The S10-2 moved away from the S10’s matte screen and slapped on some glossiness, and on this front, it’s just your personal preference whether you like glossy or not.   The S10-2 sports a slightly smaller screen at 10.1” (vs 10.2”), and when compared to the S10, you can’t really tell the size difference.   Viewing angles are very good, I didn’t find my self having to consciously tilt or move my head in order to get a good picture. 

lenovo_s10-2_screen

My only qualm about the screen (other than that I have grown to prefer matte), is that with the 6 cell battery, it cannot open at too wide of an angle.  When I’m sitting in a chair with the netbook in my lap, I have to stick my legs out a bit in order for the laptop to slightly tilt back in order view the screen straight on (that being said, it may because I am on the tall side and have a smaller chair, ha):

lenovo s10-2  screen angle and 6 cell

 

Webcam & face recognition:

The webcam is about on par with any other netbook webcam – it works fine to do basic video chat, and is laggy in low light situations.  What seems to really set them apart from each other, however, is the software that comes with them.  With the S10-2 (as well as S10), Lenovo has included “Lenovo VeriFace Recognition” which allows you to login using your face.  Setup is quite fast and easy, and logging in is pretty snappy.  However, please don’t use this thinking it is a good security measure – all that someone would need to get through your impenetrable fortress of security would be to pull up a picture of you on Facebook.

 

Keyboard & Touchpad:

The keyboard is 89% full size and requires slightly more force to depress the keys than any other netbook I’ve used.  After using it for a day, you will get used to it as I did (just as you’ll need to get used to a smaller keyboard in general if you have never used a netbook) – but, basically, I would find my self occasionally missing a space, or any other key that requires a stretch of the fingers (t, y, 5, 6, v, b, etc) as you need to press harder than you’re used to; that being said, they keyboard does feel closer to the “normal” lenovo keyboard (no flex, strongly built, etc).   Both shift keys have been elongated to respectable sizes, as well as they moved the Home and End keys to the top row. 

lenovo_s10-2_keyboard

The touch pad not only has been increased in size from about 5.6mm x 2.6mm to 5.6mm x 3.4mm (0.8mm ‘taller’), the buttons require less force to press and are quieter when clicked.   The texture of the pad is also slightly smoother, allowing one’s finger to slide across it more easily (not that it was ‘difficult’ to slide across on the S10, but it “grabs” less to your skin when using it). 

 

Built Quality, Heat, and Noise:

One of the few differences between all netbooks is their build quality, and the S10-2 would rank among the top.  The keyboard has virtually no flex and the screen lid is resistant to bending.  A (slight) thumbs down on quality, however, is that the battery is a little loose, and you can feel and hear it move around when holding it which bothers me:

As far as heat goes, it stays much cooler than the S10 (even with the S10’s updated bios), and I can’t remember once being able to hear the fan (even though it was running) – again, unlike the S10’s fan which was on quite frequently and audible.    The S10-2 does get warm, though not uncomfortably so as the raised battery seems to helps with airflow. 

Performance:

Simply put, the S10-2 stacks up to all the other netbooks running the N270 Atom processor – it’s good enough for the basics (web browsing, listening to music, watching/playing non-flash based media, word processing, VERY light games), but once you start doing light photo editing, or watching flash (especially full screen) you’ll start to feel the pain of sluggishness.   When trying to watch full screen hulu, it constantly stuttered and stayed at 60-70% processor usage.  That being said, here’s some benchmarks of SuperPI and HDTune speeds:

 

    S10-2 S10
HDTune Avg: 52.1MB/sec 50.1MB/sec
  Access Time: 17.2 ms 17.0 ms
  CPU Usage: 5.1% 6.4%
  Burst Rate: 62.3MB/sec 67.4MB/sec
Super PI 1M: 1min 35s 1min 33s
  2M: 3min 45s 3min 23s
Time to boot: Login Screen: 0min 46s 0min 46s
  Desktop: 1min 13s 1min 15s

Battery Life:

I was hoping that since many other things were slightly improved upon in the S10-2 compared to the S10 that the battery life would too – and it did (about 7% longer).  Tests were performed at level 4 brightness, wifi on, and auto performance:

  S10-2 S10
Full screen Hulu 100% of the time:

3:14 3:07
Full screen Hulu for 1.5h, web browsing for rest of the time:

4:20 4:02
Web browsing, typing in text pad, and install a few windows updates: 5:17 4:46

And in case years down the road, someone happens to buy a used s10-2 and wants to buy a replacement battery … or something … and needs to know all the numbers and barcodes on the 6 cell battery:

lenovo_s10-2_6_cell_battery

Upgrading:

As with most of the newer netbooks (basically, unlike the original line of 9” ones that first came out), it is fairly easy to upgrade the memory, hard drive, wireless card, and WLAN – all you need to do is remove the bottom covers, pop out the old and put in the new.  And contrary to the Lenovo spec sheets, the hard drive IS removable/replaceable:

lenovo_s10-2_bottom_cover_removed lenovo_s10-2_harddrive

Comparison shots to the S10:

To further drive in the (minor) differences/similarities of the S10-2 and S10, here are a few more pictures of them together.  All-in-all, the actual main chassis of the S10-2 is thinner, but the feet are a bit taller than the S10 thus making it appear the same thickness overall.  As you can tell, the S10-2 is barely shorter than the S10:

lenovo s10-2 vs s10 birdseye

And while the S10-2 is slightly thinner in the front, it’s slightly thicker in the back, so it evens out. 

lenovo s10-2 vs s10 thickness

And then two more shots showing the size of the battery (almost exactly the same), as well as their height when opened 90 degrees:

lenovo_s10-2_vs_s10_battery lenovo_s10-2_vs_s10_backtoback

Final thoughts:

All things considered, yes, the S10-2 was a successful redesign of the S10. However, unless you really want the extra battery life, it’s not worth the extra price of the S10-2 – as of 6/24/09, you can get the refurb S10 for $277 or a new S10-2 for $399 [though, after time, s10-2’s will pop up in the outlet, for a lower price].   

As far as performance, it’s about on par with any other netbook I’ve used/reviewed.  The added benefits over other netbooks is that it is smaller/lighter than most, has a great keyboard, and when it was first released it was only $300 (now $400 through their main site, who knows if they’ll lower the price again).   With a battery life of around 5 hours with ‘normal/light’ usage, it’s definitely a netbook you could feel comfortable with taking with you on a day trip without having to pack the charger. 

Pros:

  • Light (2 pounds, 11oz)
  • 5 hours + battery
  • Sturdy keyboard, no flex
  • 3 usb ports
  • Stays cool and quiet
  • Large touchpad & soft(er) buttons

Cons:

  • Loose battery
  • Too expensive for it’s differences compared to it’s predecessor (S10)
  • Fingerprint magnet (as is any glosssy netbook/screen)

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16 Responses to “Lenovo IdeaPad S10-2 Hands On Review”

  1. James Rintamaki on: 25 June 2009 at 5:24 pm

    figured I’d post as a comment :) — you can actually get the S10-2 for $360 by utilizing the 10% coupon “USPTS10SAVE” (expires Monday)

  2. Glenn Fernandes on: 28 June 2009 at 11:20 pm

    The performance seems to be great. Lenovo IdeaPad S10-2 has really attracting features. The look is also good and the price is also reasonable.

  3. zjdv2 on: 30 June 2009 at 11:50 pm

    hi, did you ever check the available video memory in dxdiag? my s10-2 only shows 64mb. i have 2GB of ram. any ideas on how to get this up to 224 like in the original s10? thanks.

  4. James Rintamaki on: 2 July 2009 at 5:56 pm

    @zjdv2, it’s currently at 64mb, but I’m not sure how to boost it…nothing in the bios to do so, and I’m not aware of any other way?

  5. JeffD on: 3 July 2009 at 8:00 am

    Jrin – thanks for the review and the videos. I just ordered one this morning. I actually found a Lenovo employee sharing their Friends and Family discount code online, so I got it for $319:

    http://www.48days.net/profiles/blogs/are-you-in-the-market-for-a

    How long did it actually take to get from Lenovo?
    And have you upgraded the RAM? Did it make a difference?

    Thanks.

  6. Pratap on: 8 July 2009 at 9:02 am

    Jrin- Excellent review and comparison of the S10 and S10-2. Just wondering, have you checked out the new S10 with the 6 cell battery and how does that compare to S10-2. Also, I don’t quite like the glossy feel or the loose battery myself on the S10-2. Do you think the new S10 (6 cell battery) would be a better bet?

  7. James Rintamaki on: 8 July 2009 at 9:04 am

    @Pratap, the new S10? The S10 I compared the S10-2 in this review was indeed the S10 with the 6 cell battery :)

  8. Pratap on: 8 July 2009 at 9:56 am

    Yes you are right James. Not sure why I missed that. Btw, just got off the phone with the rep from Lenovo and he said that the S series are only available in glossy finish which is contrary to what their website says, i.e. available in glossy or matte finishes and colorful options. Hmmm… confused now.

    Have you tried the S12 by any chance or are you planning on comparing the S12 anytime soon? Thanks.

  9. James Rintamaki on: 8 July 2009 at 9:59 am

    @Pratap, hmmm a matte screen s10-2 would be very nice – I didn’t even know they listed that as an option…would love to see one of those!

    As far as the S12, I’d love to review it (Lenovo, feel free to lend me one for reviewing purposes!) – but I’ll have to wait to see if I can get a deal on one to be able to resell it after wards without too much of a hit to my wallet :)

  10. VB54 on: 12 July 2009 at 12:55 pm

    I just bought a brand new S10-2 on Ebay. Booted up the first night, next morning nothing,and has been black screen ever since. Lenovo walked me through a few fixes including the 1 Key Recovery to no avail. Now the Ebayer tells me the 1 Key Recovery will not work because of the Windows 7. I haven’t heard back as to whether the Ebayer will take it back or not. Lenovo will try to repair it but will not replace it because I was not the original purchaser. I’m not sure where to turn.

  11. James Rintamaki on: 13 July 2009 at 12:41 pm

    @VB54, have you tried hooking it up to an external monitor? I also assume you have tried to toggle between having the computer output to the built in monitor vs external? (by pressing fn+f2 or fn+f3 once the computer has had a chance to boot to windows?)

    would lenovo be able to supply you with a recovery disc at least?

  12. mailist on: 3 December 2009 at 4:16 pm

    I bought my S10-2 in Taiwan and it comes with Chinese version of XP. The store I bought the re-image it to English version of XP but on my way back to US XP crashed and wont boot anymore. I finally decide to dump XP and put Ubuntu Netbook Remix Karmic version. Everything works fine except for extra step needed for the Broadcom wireless device driver.

  13. afif on: 11 December 2009 at 6:31 pm

    disappointed with the S10-2 when video chating on MSM. Voice is very bad and video is gittary. Any advise to rectify ?

  14. greg mcgarvey on: 14 December 2009 at 6:14 pm

    thanks for the thorough review

  15. technopeasant on: 3 January 2010 at 5:13 pm

    You have the best review of the Lenovo s10-2 of all those I’ve read. I’m deciding between that and an HP 110-1125NR. The HP is $50 more and I like a matte screen slightly better. Can you help me decide?

  16. kiki on: 29 March 2010 at 1:34 am

    Have yo figured out how to remove the keyboard? it’s not the same as S10 I spilled apple juice on it(terrible accident) and now some keys dont work! also would a keyboard from the S10 work on the S10 2?

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