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An ideal ideapad

Lenovo’s S10-2 ideapad is small, powerful and attractive. It is perfect for anyone looking for a secondary machine or a computer that they can carry and connect anywhere. SEAN BACHER takes a closer look.

Following on my recent article on the differences between a notebook and netbook, I decided it was high time I got a netbook to take a look and see if I could notice any major changes besides the missing optical drive.

So a few days ago, a Lenovo S10-2 ideapad landed on my desk. The thin box it came in was evidence enough as to how small the device actually is. Once open, and with the netbook resting on the palm of my hand ‚ I got the full idea. This machine is minute, it weighs practically nothing and from the specs it is almost as powerful as my current notebook.

The first thing I did was plug it in and hit the on button. I was presented with the standard Windows XP registration screen, where I had to input my details into the computer. Yes, the S10-2 did come with Windows XP which confused me a little as I thought all new netbooks were pre-loaded with Windows 7. However a quick call to Lenovo and all was sorted. This unit is preloaded with XP, however all the new netbooks coming to SA will come with Windows 7 Starter.

At first glance

My first impression when I switched the machine on was that the screen was rather small. It is rectangular in shape and does take a bit of getting used to. Surprisingly though, the keyboard’s alpha/numeric keys are no smaller than that of a standard notebook. The function and cursor keys are a little smaller, but nothing you can’t get used to.

The machine comes pre-loaded with all Lenovo’s support tools and an antivirus program, and that’s about it. Obviously you need to get yourself connected to the Internet before you can update the virus signatures and make sure you are running the latest Windows patches. Getting connected was dead easy. I plugged my USB modem into the machine: it installed the drivers and was ready to connect in minutes. Thanks to Vodacom’s congested and absolutely useless network I wasn’t able to connect straight away ‚ but that’s an issue for another article.

As mentioned before, netbooks don’t come with optical drives, however many vendors are including external drives with their netbooks and many people still do need them. So, I plugged in the included optical drive, slid in my Microsoft Office CD and began the install. This took no more than about ten minutes and once done I could see no other reason for the optical drive. Everything I need is online, all my music is in an MP3 format and my movies are stored on an external hard drive. So, out came the drive and to date I have not used it at all.

In the real world

For those of you who didn’t read my previous article, one of the main points that came out of it is that a netbook is supposed to be a secondary machine. That is something you carry around with you and sync up with your desktop or notebook when you get back to the office. However, for this review, I decided to use the netbook as my primary machine. I wanted to put the full load of my work on it to see how it fairs. So, over went my documents, over went my email archives and that was basically it. I was ready to work from my two hour old netbook.

My work is predominantly done online, I keep all my email online so I don’t need to worry about backups and all that, so my first order of business was to chuck out that pesky Internet Explorer and put on something a little more reliable ‚ Firefox here we come. Installation was seamless, but this was to be expected. Once browsing the Internet, you start to see the constraints of the small screen. Set at a resolution of 1024X768 ‚ a pretty standard resolution for most notebook and desktop users, the netbook seemed as if it was squeezing everything in. But after a few hours of work I didn’t really notice the difference anymore. Even when writing this article on the machine, I didn’t even notice the smaller font until I booted up my previous machine to compare the difference.

On the outside

The Lenovo S10-2 ideapad sports a black glossy top part of the chassis, whist the remainder of the chassis is standard matt black. The machine comes with three USB ports, an Ethernet and external monitor connection, an SD card slot and an integrated Internet camera ‚ incorporated above the screen. The machine also supports Wi-Fi.

Well that’s basically it. If you are looking for an affordable secondary computer this netbook is for you. If you are looking for new computer that is ultra portable then this is also for you. If however you do plan on using this as your primary machine, you may want to look at getting a decent sized monitor and maybe an external keyboard. Other than that, the processor, RAM and hard drive are all adequate to run your everyday applications and then some.

Specs at a glance:

CPU: Intel Atom N280 running at 1.66GHZ

RAM: 1024MB

Hard drive size: 160GB

LAN: 10MB/100MB

Display: 10.1‚

OS: Windows XP SP3

Price: Around R4 000

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So keep the air-vents unobstructed, and place it on a rigid surface… at worst, place it on a magazine or large book if you much have it on your bed or on a pillow or something.

Furthermore, the Six-cell battery lifts the rear-end higher, allowing more airflow underneath than the standard 3-cell battery. Get the 6-cell battery, it really makes this a most useful Netbook!

The Intel Atom requires much less power to operate than your standard processor. As a result it generates much less heat. Besides this, I know that Intel puts each of its processors through numerous rigorous tests to see how they cope, even under the harshest of conditions, before releasing them into the market. Thus, I believe you may have just got a dud processor and that the next one you install will work just fine for years to come.


Sean Bacher


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