Why Lenovo’s S10 seemed like a good idea(pad) to me

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I try to keep my work and home life on different computers. It doesn’t always work, but that’s the idea anyway. The problem I find is that, every time I’m away from home (which is when I get most of my blogging done), I find myself carrying around two laptops and, even without any peripherals (power adapters, etc.), that’s 4.5kg of luggage. Any sensible person would use an external hard disk for one of the workloads but… there you go…

Lenovo IdeaPad S10I’ve been watching developments with small form-factor PCs (so called “NetBooks”) for a while now and over the weekend I took the plunge. Tomorrow morning I’m expecting a delivery of a Lenovo IdeaPad S10 to slip in my bag alongside the Fujitsu-Siemens S7210 that I use for work.

So why did I choose the Lenovo?

  • In terms of build quality, my IBM ThinkPad is by far and away the best notebook PC I’ve ever had (better than the various Toshiba, Compaq, Dell and Fujitsu-Siemens units I’ve used – and certainly better than my Apple MacBook) – I’m hoping that Lenovo have continued that quality as they’ve taken on the former IBM PC business (the reviews I’ve read certainly indicate that they have).
  • I want to use this NetBook with Windows 7 – and I know it can work (this is the model that Steven Sinofsky showed in a keynote at Microsoft’s 2008 Professional Developers Conference).
  • I was impressed with Windows 7 running on Paul Foster’s Acer Aspire One, but the keyboard is just too small for my fat fingers.
  • The Lenovo S10 has a PC Express Card slot (so it should work with my Vodafone 3G card – and yes, I know I can get a USB version but I’d need to convince my employers of the need for an upgrade, which would not be an easy sell when they give me a perfectly good laptop with a PC Express Card slot to use…).
  • I also seriously considered the Dell Mini 9 (especially when they mis-priced it on their website for £99 last week – incidentally, the resulting orders were not fulfilled) but I’m not convinced that using a pre-release operating system on a solid state hard drive is really a good idea – I could easily kill the drive within a few months. Meanwhile, the Lenovo has a traditional 160GB hard disk and the 10.2″ screen (rather than 9″) translates into more space for a larger keyboard without noticeably increasing the size of the computer (for those who still want a 9″ model, Lenovo have announced an S9 but I’ve seen no sign of it in the UK yet). Another option that I discounted was the Samsung NC10 – which has a better battery and one more USB port but no PC Express Card slot.
  • The equivalent Asus and Acer models may be less expensive but the big names (IBM, Dell, HP as well as Samsung and Toshiba) are all reducing their prices – and by waiting for the reduction in the UK’s VAT rate to take effect the price was £292.25 for the S10 at eBuyer with free shipping (although I paid another tenner for next-day delivery).

I’m sure my sons will be amused when yet another computer appears on my desk (my wife may be slightly less so…) but I’m thinking of this as an early Christmas present to myself…

Further reading

Here are some of the posts that I found useful before deciding to buy this PC:

15 thoughts on “Why Lenovo’s S10 seemed like a good idea(pad) to me

  1. Would very interested on how the S10 pans out, looking for a subnotebook, but none so far have grabbed my interest. This one looks very good.

  2. @KoKo – because most netbooks come with WiFi and Bluetooth but not mobile data connections, I’d like to be able to use my 3G data mobile card with – that’s why I’ll find a PC Express Card slot useful (you can get USB data cards, but I already have a PC Express Card version and it will be difficult for me to swap for USB). If that’s not important to you, then the extra USB port on the Samsung will probably be more useful.

  3. @Mike – Review! That mean’s I’ll have to write one! Initial signs are very promising though. Lenovo build quality is certainly there – this is a very solid little PC. I’ll let you know more once work has calmed down and blogging recommences at the previous rate…

  4. I just got the S10 and my express card from my think pad does not fit all the way in the express slot for the S10?


  5. @Cheryl – I have the same issue with my Vodafone 3G card in that it “sticks out” of the PC Express Card slot a long way – but it still works, and I guess it’s only logical that there’s not much space inside such a small case for a deep slot. Same for the SD card slot on the other side.

  6. I have written to a few retailers and they don’t seem to know what they’re selling, confusing S10 10.2″ and S10e 10.1″ screen details.

    I am trying to findout if the S10, (10.2″ – 1024×600), or the S10e, (10.1″ _1024x576) is sold in UK.

    I wonder if the ‘e’ is not so much for education but for europe.

    Are both models sold in europe?

    I want the 10.2″ screen because, according to some reports the 10,1″ is very glossy and obviously a tad smaller.

    Could you let me know what you received and how the screen is.

    Thanking you

    Keith W

  7. Hi Keith,
    Despite being advertised as an S10, the unit that was shipped to me was an S10e – I assumed that the e was for Europe and that the 1024×576 vs. 1024×600 was a rounding-up/down thing (or an operating system restriction) – a bit like when you buy a 120GB hard disk but it’s really smaller because the manufacturer counted a gigabyte as 1000000000 bytes instead of 1073741824 bytes (1024x1024x1024).

    I wouldn’t worry about the glossy screen – sure, it reflects when there’s nothing displayed but as soon as it’s displaying an image then the backlight is strong enough to counteract any glare.

    Hope that helps. Mark

  8. I just checked my order and it was definitely for an S10 with a 10.2″ TFT. The unit I received says S10e on it (and came with QuickStart). I’m not sure if it’s a 10.1″ or a 10.2″ display but it only seems to work at 1024×576.

    There’s more on the S10 vs. S10e at testfreaks.com – but I haven’t confirmed that the e is for education yet. The S10 doesn’t even show up on Lenovo’s UK website but yhe S9e and S10e are on the European site – suggesting that e is for Europe. Lenovo’s TechSpecs for the IdeaPad S series say that the S10e has a 10.2″ 1924×600 screen though (then again, they also say it comes with an Intel 5100a/g WLAN card and GMA950 graphics but my unit definitely has a Broadcom wireless NIC and Intel GMA945 graphics…).

  9. OK… I got to the bottom of the S10 vs. S10e question. According to Lenovo UK (in response to an e-mail I sent them):

    “Yes the Ideadpads [sic] in stock are the S10e the E does stand for Educational and is aimed at education and the consumer market.

    There will be S10 coming in but these will only be for large end user company’s [sic] and will not be available in stock for the consumer market to purchase. “

    So, if you see an S10 advertised, then it is probably an S10e. I’m not sure if I can be bothered to chase eBuyer for mis-selling mine to me but now I know there is an S10 and and S10e that has taken the shine off my new toy somewhat :-(

    (The S10e is available for purchase from the Lenovo UK website now too… it wasn’t last year)

  10. Hi Mark, I only discovered your blog website when tonight I purchased a Lenovo S10 (in pink – how cool is that?!) from a chap on Ebay. I was confused with the meaning of S10 and S10e so I Googled the names and your link appeared.

    Anyway, I was very interested to read your explanation as to the difference between the S10 and S10e but have you noticed any annoying fan noise (as highlighted on the Lenovo social forum)? It seems to be a huge problem. Some even commented that it the nosiest are the ones in black.

    I would love to know your thoughts, and thanks for writing about the Lenovo netbook :)

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