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Lenovo's S10e Linux Ideapad

Plenty of Reasons to Give This Netbook a Good Look

  • January 27, 2009
  • By Paul Ferrill

Netbooks are all the rage right now with Linux as one of the primary operating system (OS) options. The Eee PC from ASUS got things started and originally only shipped with a Linux OS. This year's Consumer Electronics Show was overrun with the little laptops from a wide variety of vendors. It was only a matter of time before the big guys rolled out their own mini-laptop offerings. Now you can find a netbook from just about every major laptop manufacturer, with the exception of Apple.

Cost is, without a doubt, a big driver in the success of these machines. You can find any number of models for something around the $300 price point. These are fully capable machines with typically a screen size in the 7" range. Newer models have hit the market recently with larger screens and somewhat higher prices. While the 7" screen is OK for reading, it drives a smaller total footprint that tends to make the keyboard smaller than is conducive to touch typing. With a 10" screen there is more room for a larger keyboard and other nice features such as bigger batteries.

The Lenovo S10e we tested came with an Intel N270 Single Core Atom processor clocked at 1.6 GHz. With 1 GB of ram and a 120 GB hard drive, there's plenty of room to run just about any application you would want to on a machine this size. The 10.1" screen is driven by an Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950 and is topped off with an integrated web cam. A Broadcom 802.11 b/g wifi card and Bluetooth round out the communication options quite nicely.

Some time back we tested the HP 2133 which was their first foray into the mini-laptop or netbook world. It was obviously a first try type of product and wasn't without a few kinks. It did come with the same OS, Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED), as the Lenovo S10e comes with so the comparisons there were similar. The screen on the HP 2133 is 8.9", giving an edge to the S10e in readability.

One definite advantage the HP 2133 has over the Lenovo S10e is the keyboard. HP boasts that the 2133 has a 92% of full-size keyboard, and it really does work well for most typing intensive tasks such as editing a document. The HP 2133 didn't come with Bluetooth so advantage S10e in that department. Using an external Bluetooth mouse sure beats the tiny mouse pad and buttons you get on most of the netbooks. The HP 2133 also ran quite hot at times, and we found the s10e to be considerably cooler. The fan is a little noticeable when you're in a quiet room, but you'll never hear it otherwise.

Although we didn't actually weigh the two devices, the S10e seemed a bit lighter. We tested a unit with a black molded plastic case that seemed durable enough but not the same as the rugged-feeling metal case of the HP 2133. Battery life was a little better than the HP unit but not significantly more as they had the same number of cells (3). The S10e is available with a 6-cell battery, providing roughly twice the life.

 

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