Reboot and Rally: Lenovo IdeaPad S10

by Luofei Deng | 11/7/08 4:42am

Netbooks are the new craze in computing. Everybody and their mother seems to be making these very small, very low-cost laptops. Lenovo, the company that makes the ThinkPad notebooks, has joined in on the party with the IdeaPad S10 (props for the clever name).

The IdeaPad, like many netbooks, weighs about three pounds and has a 10.2" screen. It is powered by Intel's new Atom processor, which was made specifically for low-cost laptops.

A laptop this small is portable enough to take with you anywhere, even at times when you would normally leave your regular computer at home. While netbooks are not powerful enough to run big programs like Stata or Matlab, they can perform the vast majority of regular laptop functions such as checking Blitz, surfing the Internet and using Microsoft Word.

Over the past few weeks, I have made the IdeaPad S10 my constant companion. After a few days, I realized that college is one of the perfect places for having a netbook. Since wireless Internet access is ubiquitous, I could conveniently whip out the IdeaPad whenever I had some time and some brief tasks to do on the computer, such as checking BlackBoard, GreenPrinting and reading the latest news.

Having a netbook makes a great deal of sense because I use it for the same things that I would if I had my full-size laptop. The difference is that a netbook is about half the weight and takes up much less space in my backpack.

I found the IdeaPad to be a snappy performer. I was able to have multiple programs open without issue. Wireless performance was also sharp, and I had no problems connecting to Dartmouth Secure.

I have two reservations that prevent me from wholeheartedly recommending the IdeaPad S10. One is that its battery life -- about two to three hours -- is too short for a laptop designed to be so portable. Certain other models of netbooks, such as the MSI Wind, are available with extended batteries. Second, the IdeaPad's keys are very small, particularly the right "shift key." Other netbooks, such as the HP Mini 1000 and Acer Aspire One, have larger keyboards despite being roughly the same overall size as the IdeaPad S10. If anyone is thinking about getting a netbook, make sure to test the keyboard first.

The Lenovo IdeaPad sells for $400. It comes with 512-megabyte RAM, an 80-gigabyte hard drive and Windows XP. In what is becoming an all-too-popular trend in the laptop world, the IdeaPad is available in multiple colors: white, black and red. For some inexplicable reason, though, the red model costs an additional $10.

For many people, netbooks make sense as a secondary computer because they are very affordable and portable enough to carry everywhere. Plus, being on the Internet constantly is exactly what some people want.