Lenovo IdeaPad S10-2 Review, Specs

Lenovo Ideapad S10-2 is everything what its processor, S10e and S10 were not. It is fast and performs nicely. It has great sound quality and an amazing touchpad. That said, the S10-2 does gets hot very quickly and its 6 cell battery sticks out. Keyboard is not the best in class too. Read this review to find out more about it.

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Lenovo IdeaPad S10-2 Specs

Colors available: Silver Grey, Rose Pink, Pearl White and Lamp Black.
10.1 inch 1024 x 600 Display (Glossy)
Atom N270 (1.6GHz) Processor
Intel 945GSE Express Chipset / GMA 950 Graphics
160GB HDD (2.5” SATA 5400RPM)
1GB RAM (2 max)
Broadcom BCM4312 802.11b/g Wi-Fi
3x USB 2.0, VGA out, headphone and microphone ports, 4-in-1 Card Reader
1.3MP Webcam
Dolby Headphone Technology
Stereo Speakers
NO Bluetooth
Battery rated at 6 hours of runtime.
258 × 195 × 18-42 mm dimensions
1.2 kg / 2.6 lbs weight

Box Contents

The contents are pretty sparse:

Power cable
AC Brick
6-Cell Battery
User Guide
Regulatory Notice

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I got a free wired mouse with mine. There is no recovery media. There is a recovery partition on the HDD and another program for saving backups. I’ll get to that later.

Build Quality

Overall quite solid for a mini laptop. It’s cheap plastics all around but I find it to be of higher quality than the original Lenovo S10e mini laptop and it feels better than some more expensive mini laptops like the 11.6” ASUS Eee PC 1101HA, for example.

Lenovo IdeaPad S10-2 Review

Keyboard has a tiny little bit of flex right in the middle if you press down hard enough, but I haven’t noticed it with my daily usage. Only one minor issue I have is the battery. It jiggles very slightly and is easily noticeable if you carry the mini laptop in your hands by the battery. The front lid is glossy, has a subtle imprint of circles but does not seem to show fingerprints which is great. At least on my white model.

Software

I don’t really care about the software on mini laptops but there are two that are worth mentioning.

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One software that I enjoyed on the S10-2 that made life just a little easier, is the facial recognition software on board. It was fairly quick at recognizing my face and saved me from having to put my fingers on the small keyboard every time I want to log in. I wouldn’t use it for security purposes though, anyone with a photo of you should be able to log in.

Unlike most recovery programs, the S10-2 has a recovery program that can backup and restore the current state of your system, with all the software and data you have running at a particular time. This is in addition to the factory restore option, triggered by pressing the arrow button next to the power button.

Quick Start OS

Lenovo has added a light Linux based OS in addition to the standard Windows XP OS. The quick launching OS is triggered when you press the Quick Start button to the far right above the keyboard. It takes only 10 seconds to launch into the menu and takes 8 seconds to shut down.

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It then takes another 20 seconds for the browser to pop up, and then about 3 seconds to load a light webpage. Overall you’re looking at 32 seconds before you can start browsing. Compare that to the Windows bootup, which takes 52 seconds to show the desktop.

I didn’t enjoy browsing, because the GUI looks very poor and the fonts are blurry. There is no scrolling ability (on the right edge) in this OS. Also the cursor movement seems to be screwed up. Vertical movement is twice as sensitive as horizontal movement. Web browsing and connecting to a Wi-Fi access point was no problem at all though.

Most of the stuff works well enough. In the music player, there’s no option to stream music on a network which I like to do. Same goes for the picture viewer. Overall, I don’t see myself using this Quick Start OS. Mostly the poor browsing experience and the screwed up mouse cursor turn me off it. I can wait a further 20 seconds to get the best experience available.

Display

The 10.1” display on the Lenovo S10-2 is very bright and glossy like most mini laptop displays. I don’t notice viewing angles or coloring to be any different than other mini laptops with glossy displays.

I really like how the bezel is so thin around the display. This has to be the slimmest screen bezels I’ve seen on a 10-inch mini laptop where most are ridiculously huge (for good reason though, to fit in a good keyboard – more on that later)

There is one downside caused by the limited opening range of the lid (the battery is not in the way) and that is you may not get an optimal viewing angle depending on how you use the S10-2. If you have it in your lap or on the floor, for example, the lid does not go back far enough to get an optimal picture, so at best you have a slightly washed out screen with the S10-2 in your lap.

This is how far back the lid opens up:

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Keyboard

The Lenovo S10-2 is one of the most compact 10-inch mini laptops I’ve seen and comes as close as you can get to a 9-inch mini laptop. The downside here is that you pay the price in keyboard size.  (note: My keyboard is Japanese, so most keys are smaller than their English counterparts)

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The Lenovo S10-2 has a small keyboard, for a 10-inch mini laptop. On a 9-inch mini laptop it would be good, but for a 10-incher, it’s not that good, relatively speaking. In fact, it’s probably the same size as the keyboard on the 9-inch Acer Aspire One because it looks identical, at least. Feels a little different though.

There seems plenty of people touting that they can touch type with ease of such keyboards but many times I was reduced to pecking with two fingers. When you’re in a groove and doing a lot of typing you can type well, but say you just need to occasionally type in a web address it can be hard to adjust to the keys.

The keyboard itself feels very good and I didn’t notice any flex with normal usage. If I press down hard in the middle, than I can see flex, but that won’t occur in real life usage.

Overall, this mini laptop is not for someone who needs to type a lot. Chatting, web browsing, filling in forms and the like should be okay with this keyboard. If you’re blogging long-ish posts especially daily, I would not consider this mini laptop.

Touchpad

The touchpad is small on the S10-2 but it takes up as much space as possibly can. Even though it’s small I really enjoyed using the touchpad more so than larger ones such as on the ASUS Eee PC Seashell range. That is, once I bumped up the movement sensitivity.

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The surface felt nice and slick, scrolling was very responsive and there are two separate mouse buttons which a nice chrome finish. This touchpad is not multi-touch. You have standard vertical scrolling on the right edge and horizontally across the bottom edge above the buttons. I really enjoyed using this touchpad, and it even beats larger touchpads hands-on.

Sound, Webcam and Microphone

Totally surprised with the sound quality coming out the S10-2. Among the best I’ve heard on a mini laptop. No sign of tininess. Good bass. Loud sound volume. Speakers are located at the bottom front left and right sides. The S10-2 also comes with Dolby Headphone technology which slightly improves the sound quality and experience (surround sound) through headphones. I feel it makes a noticeable difference over standard headphone output. Overall, excellent sound quality on the S10-2. A total surprise.

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I have been using the webcam with the facial recognition software and it has been working very well. I also tested it in Skype. I’ve seen better quality webcams on mini laptops but it works well in low light situations. The microphone worked very well. There are options to turn off background noise which works nicely. Overall very good quality. I didn’t have to speak that loud and didn’t have to have my head right up next to the display.

Heat
The Lenovo S10-2 is probably the hottest 10-inch mini laptop I’ve ever used. I actually, for the first time ever astonishingly, felt like I would have burnt myself had I left my finger on the touchpad a little longer.

The reason why it got so hot was because, the Lenovo S10-2, mine at least, had problems going to sleep when you close the lid. So I would close the lid, after the day is done and wake up the next morning, only to find it is still running. Running incredibly hot. Mind you it only gets this hot if you have it running for many hours. Hot enough that I had to quickly put it down on a surface quickly. For example, right now I have the S10-2 sitting on my desktop, idling away, whilst I review it. It’s been less than 10 minutes but the bottom is already warm.

Overall, very surprised here, and it is a first in the mini laptop scene. This may affect some of you. It doesn’t really bother me personally, despite being surprised it doesn’t reduce functionality of the mini laptop. You will need to be very careful though.

Noise
Mostly the S10-2 has stayed very quiet. I have noticed on a few occasions the fan ramping up to a higher level which is noticeable, but on most occasions I don’t notice any fan noise. The S10-2 overall has very low noise levels.

Upgrades

The Lenovo S10-2 is upgrade friendly and is warranty seal free.

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There’s one large panel covering the 2.5” SATA HDD and 2 PCI-e slots, of which one is loaded with a Wi-Fi card. The second PCI-e slot seems to be useless. It did not recognize my Broadcom HD Decoder card which works fine in the first PCI-e slot.

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The smaller panel on the right, hides the memory slot, which can be upgraded to 2GB RAM like most other mini laptops. There is a SIM card slot behind the battery, so you can probably install your own 3G modem.

Battery Life

The Lenovo S10-2 ships with only a 6-cell lithium-ion battery (47Wh, 10.8V).

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There is an easy to use power management software that resides in the dock. It has 4 power settings: Performance, Balance, Low Power and Super Energy Saver. Each setting allows you to tweak brightness levels, cpu speeds, and turn off devices on both AC and battery modes.

There are three settings for the CPU level: “Lowest CPU frequency” sets the CPU speed to 800MHz. The next level is “Auto Adjust” which sets idle speed to 800MHz which ramps up to 1.6GHz when in use. “Highest CPU frequency” runs at 1.6GHz all the time.

The lowest setting “Lowest CPU frequency” has a few more settings: You can turn off the sound card, LAN card, Wi-Fi card and choose low color quality.

Back to the battery life.

Here are a range of battery benchmarks I’ve run below. Didn’t have time to run some real life tests.

Super Energy Saver (Wi-Fi OFF, 1/10 Brightness, CPU lowest speed)
Idle – 8:20
Classic – 5:30

Super Energy Saver (Wi-Fi ON, 5/10 Brightness, CPU lowest speed, sound ON 50%)
Classic – 5:04

Super Energy Saver (Wi-Fi OFF, 10/10 Brightness, CPU lowest speed, sound ON 50%)
Movies – 4:17

That should equate to roughly 6 hours of battery life, which is about average. That may have been good last year, but many of the newer mini laptops on the market are reaching close to 10 hour battery lives. Still, that amount of battery life may be more than enough for your needs.

Size and Weight

The Lenovo S10-2 seems to be one of the most compact 10-inch mini laptops on the market. It has the thinnest display bezel on a 10-inch and the keyboard looks almost exactly the same as the keyboard on the 9-inch Acer Aspire One.

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The above pictures shows the S10-2 on a sheet of A4 paper. The battery also fits in that area, but looks out due to the angle and shadow.

I measured thickness at roughly 1-inch and it tapers a little thinner towards the front. The 6-cell battery increases the overall thickness to 4.2cm / 1.65 inches at the back.

The S10-2 weighs 1.2kg / 2.7 pounds. That’s just light enough to be able to handle it with one hand for a short period of time. With the AC brick and cables the total weight comes to 1.5kg / 3.4 pounds.

The AC Brick is quite tiny and comparable to the ones on the ASUS Eee series mini laptops.

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Performance

I could give you benchmark results, but the reality is, you won’t notice any difference between most mini laptops, at least those that come with standard 2.5” 160GB hard drives.

Unlike a lot of the later mini laptops out the market, the Lenovo S10-2 still packs in an Atom N270 processor, rather than the newer Atom N280 processor. Performance wise there’s nothing to worry about as there is barely any difference between the two. The N280 does squeeze in a few more minutes of battery life though.

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Getting back to the S10-2′s performance. The S10-2 feels very snappy, especially running in the standard power mode running at 1.6GHz speed. Flash laden webpages can be a bit slow running in power saving modes but I never had any problems with watching Flash videos even running at 800MHz speed.

Compared to the Atom Z520 mini laptops out there (Dell Mini 10, ASUS Eee PC 1101HA, MSI Wind U115, ASUS Eee PC T91 etc), the speed difference is quite favorable to Atom N270/N80 mini laptops.

Other Issues
I do have a few other issues with the S10-2 and these could be fixed with firmware / driver updates. I haven’t tried searching for updated drivers / BIOS stuff yet.

First: When the battery is low, the S10-2 constantly beeps, very loudly. There’s an option to turn it off in the power settings, but it does not work. You can’t turn it off in the Windows power settings either, because it’s disabled on the S10-2. This is incredibly annoying and it would be rather embarrassing in a public location.

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Second: This may be caused by the face recognition software, but on many occasions I cannot get the S10-2 to shut down when closing the lid. This results in me coming back hours later or waking up in the morning to find my S10-2 burning hot on the carpet floor.

Lenovo Ideapad S10-2 Review Summary

Pros
Excellent sound quality
Bright display
Compact size
Touchpad responsive / high quality
Very quiet
Upgrade friendly
User friendly power modes

Cons
6-Cell Battery juts out, raises height
Small keyboard
Average battery life (for a 6-cell)
Limited screen lid opening range
Gets hot

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