Lenovo has plunged into the netbook market with not one but two new products -- the and IdeaPad S10. It's also released special 'e' versions of both, aimed at students and teachers. The S10e, reviewed here, sports a 10-inch display, putting it in competition with the likes of the Asus Eee PC 1000HE.
It's available now for approximately £250.
The S10e has that familiar no-nonsense look we've come to expect from Lenovo machines. The understated, matte black chassis won't wow passers-by but, on the positive side, it doesn't lust for fingerprint smudges and grime like the majority of its glossy rivals.
The S10e is relatively compact and lightweight for a 10-inch netbook. It measures just 250mm by 28mm by 183mm and weighs 1.1kg, so it's a little easier to carry than the 1000HE, which measures 266mm by 191mm by 38mm, and weighs 1.4kg.
The upside of having a smaller chassis is that the bezel around the 10-inch display looks trim and stylish. The downside is that Lenovo has had to squeeze the keyboard into a smaller space. As a result, the keys are small and more tightly packed than on the 1000HE, which makes it difficult to type accurately. Likewise, the mouse trackpad and selector buttons are both very small and require a multitude of finger strokes to accomplish tasks that might otherwise require just one or two.
A quick look around the chassis reveals other compromises. Whereas most netbooks benefit from three USB ports, the S10e has just two. It does, however, have an Ethernet port, microphone and headphone ports, an SD memory card reader and -- unusually for this breed of machine -- an ExpressCard/34 slot.
The S10e's specs are generic by netbook standards. It uses an Intel Atom N270 CPU and 1GB of RAM running atop an Intel 945GSE chipset. It offers absolutely nothing more or less than the majority of its rivals, but that's hardly surprising given the relative lack of imagination shown by most netbook designers.
Wireless capabilities are pretty standard, too. It has optional Bluetooth and 802.11b/g wireless, so you can get online at wireless hotspots. However, like most netbooks, it lacks integrated 3G, so you'll need to buy yourself a 3G USB dongle if you want to access the Internet while away from a hotspot.