The Lenovo IdeaPad S10 Netbook

Customers debating over which of several great netbooks to buy often pick the Lenovo IdeaPad S10. Why? Because they know good value when they see it.

The S10 comes in different configurations and price points, so you can choose which suits your needs and circumstances best. All come standard with Intel's 1.6GHz Atom CPU. But you have a choice between the less expensive 512MB system with a 60GB hard drive, or you can go for the higher-end 1GB RAM model that sports a 160GB drive. Both weigh in at under 2 1/2 lbs and offer a 10" wide x 7" deep x 1" high form factor.

That makes this minibook a terrific combination of high-portability and power. You shouldn't expect performance equal to a high-end laptop, but that's not what these units are for. They provide instead a great alternative to lugging around a 6-8lb laptop when all you need are basic functions.

Even those basic functions encompass a range of applications that will satisfy just about every need, though. Running Microsoft Office apps is no problem. The system comes pre-loaded with Windows XP and running Word or Excel is a breeze. Units can be loaded with Linux and run the Open Office suite, which also comes in a Windows flavor.

When you're out and about creating those documents you'll still have access to everything you need off the web. The Lenovo S10 features built-in 802.11b/g wireless support. It also provides Bluetooth connectivity and has a slot for an optional ExpressCard mobile broadband card, if you prefer.

When you do, you won't run out of steam too soon with the IdeaPad, either. The default battery is fine, running 2-3 hours depending on screen brightness and usage. You can also order a Total Micro Technologies Power Station battery that will last around a full seven hours at full screen brightness.

That screen is nice and crisp, too. At just over 10 inches it has plenty of real estate for a minibook monitor. At 1024 x 600 (WSVGA) you won't have to squint to see and the text and icons appear sharp.

The keyboard is not the largest available in a netbook. That prize goes to the HP 2133 Mini-Note at 92% of a standard laptop size. But at 85% the size of a laptop keyboard, you won't have to struggle to use it either. The touchpad provides dedicated left and right mouse buttons and supports several multi-touch features.

If you find that you need more memory or a larger hard drive assuming you opted for the smaller capacities to start with, you can upgrade the Lenovo. That's not something that can be said for every netbook. All can be, in theory. But in practice the effort is sometimes more trouble that it's worth. Not so for the S10. Just remove the back cover and memory and hard drive are both easily accessible.

Whether plain vanilla or extra fancy, you'll find like so many others that the Lenovo IdeaPad S10 is a lot of computer in a tiny package.

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