The netbook market is quickly becoming so saturated with products that are so similar, reviewing one netbook is just about like reviewing another. This must be how an OB/GYN feels. Today I am checking out the Lenovo S10-2 netbook and like many of the machines on the market today, the S10-2 is very similar to the hoards of other machines available.
Despite having the same basic hardware and features as every other machine out there, the S10-2 did manage to offer up nice battery life and performance nearer the top of the heap when it comes to netbooks. If you are in the market for a new netbook and must have a well known brand name, the Lenovo S10-2 may be just what you want.
The netbook lacks anything really compelling, buy there is little fault to find with the machine and it will serve well for use on the road or at home. I would like to see something appealing added to the system; the S10-2 is just a little boring is all.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
Specifications, Availability, and Pricing
There are several different models of the S10-2 on the Lenovo website. They all share the same hardware and specifications; the only thing that changes is the color of the machines. My test system is the black model. Lenovo sells the S10-2 for $439 direct from its website. However, at the time of writing the netbook is on sale for $349.99 over at Newegg, plus shipping. Full specifications are below.
The Lenovo S10-2
Yep, that's a box. It's brown, has the Lenovo logo and is thin enough for you to appreciate how tiny the netbook inside is.
Extract the S10-2 from its snazzy box and you get your first glimpse at the chassis with its stealth finish and almost iridescent quality. It's a good looking netbook, for sure.
There is little to see on the front of the netbook except the slot for the memory card reader.
The left side of the little computer has the RJ-45 port, VGA output, a USB port, mic jack and the headphone port.
The right side of the S10-2 has the switch for turning Wi-Fi on and off, two USB ports, the Kensington lock port and the DC adapter port.
The backside of the machine shows off the thick battery that lifts the rear of the computer about half an inch or so.
The keyboard is what you expect from a netbook with cramped keys, but good enough for the class.
The glossy screen offers up good colors and plenty of glare.
When looking at the S10-2 from the side profile you get a very good idea just how thin the machine is.
The bottom of the netbook has covers for the RAM, hard drive and various heat extraction ducts and intakes.
Benchmarks - Battery Life, iTunes Encoding & Movie Encoding
Now we come to the benchmark portion of the review. I will be using the standard netbook test suite consisting of our iTunes encoding test, movie encoding test and battery life with Battery Eater Pro. The first benchmark up will be Battery Eater Pro.
Battery Eater Pro
Version and / or Patch Used: 2.70
Developer Homepage: http://batteryeater.com/development.html
Product Homepage: http://batteryeater.com
Right off the bat, we put the battery of the Lenovo S10-2 through its paces with Battery Eater Pro. BEP is a grueling benchmark that tends to be harder on the battery of machines than the real world, so your mileage may vary. Battery life is certainly one of the best features of the Lenovo netbook. Check out the chart below for the benchmark results.
Version and / or Patch Used: 22.214.171.124
Developer Homepage: http://www.apple.com
Product Homepage: http://www.apple.com/itunes
Next on the test regime is our iTunes encoding test. We take the full Stone Temple Pilots Core CD in MP3 format and use iTunes 126.96.36.199 to encode the album to AAC format and time the process with a stopwatch. The S10-2 did as expected for the class on this benchmark. See the chart below for the results.
Version and / or Patch Used: 9
Developer Homepage: http://www.microsoft.com
Product Homepage: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/forpros/encoder/default.mspx
The final netbook benchmark is the movie encoding test where we take the Microsoft Wonder of Flight video in 1080p HD and encode it to DVD quality video with CD quality Audio. Check out the chart below for the benchmark results.
Hands on Use
I am getting rather jaded looking at netbook after netbook over the last few months. So far, the only machine that has really brought anything interesting to the table has been the GIGABYTE netbook I reviewed last month with its slick docking system. The Lenovo S10-2 works well and has no glaring faults, but man is it a boring little machine with nothing that really sets it apart from any other netbook I have tested.
The netbook group is a tight pack when it comes to benchmark results and the S10-2 was near the top in its tests, but the results are so close as to be a wash in the real world. The netbook market has basically become a commodity environment where users can just buy on price.
That's enough complaining about the lack of innovation from the netbook market for today. The Lenovo S10-2 has a decent keyboard with well-spaced keys and a full sized right shift key in its correct location. The keyboard has decent tactile feel and is a clone of the keyboards on most other netbooks I have tested.
The little track pad that Lenovo uses is responsive and well sized. I particularly liked that Lenovo made the two mouse buttons a different color and material that makes them easy to see when working in low light conditions. The track pad does offer a scroll area for long web pages or documents. The machine features Dolby headphone sound, which works good. But honestly, the only way you will notice this feature is if you compare a system with and without it back to back. It sounds good, don't get me wrong, but hardly a feature worth buying one machine over another for.
The onboard sound system is decent and offers enough volume to allow you to hear video or music. As with all netbooks, the bass is missing and the sound is thin. The screen of the S10-2 is nice and will serve media streaming duties well with good color reproduction and decent video quality. Lenovo uses a highly glossy screen, as do most netbooks, which means lots of glare in most situations.
I am going to take Lenovo and Norton to task over the bundling of a very intrusive security suite on the S10-2. Norton Internet Security nearly drove me crazy until I finally uninstalled it. I hate bloatware and I think this type of software should be optional when you order a netbook.
In the end, the Lenovo S10-2 is a very passable netbook that works well; it's just boring. It works, has good battery life and is relatively attractive. But despite those things, it utterly failed to move me at all.
You can think of it like this; if you have a new Hyundai and a new Lamborghini sitting side by side, both will get you where you want to go and work well doing it. One of the cars is just way more sexy and desirable. The S10-2 is the Hyundai, completely workable but lacking that special something that makes me want to own one.