The tiny 10.1-inch LED backlit screen is surprisingly bright, and the colours look beautiful too. It does sacrifice even more resolution than your average 10-inch netbook screen, and it's got a glare coating, which we're not crazy about.
The viewing angle is pretty limited, but this is hardly an issue on such a small device, it's not a TV, but it could annoy you while using the webcam and trying to get the right angle. The 1.3MP webcam is pretty good, and deals well with poor lighting conditions. You can also use Lenovo's VeriFace security software with it. Instead of typing in your password, the webcam takes a mugshot and lets you access the system. Neat.
Surprisingly, the sample we got shipped with a 3-cell battery, not a 6-cell like all current S10e SKUs. Unfortunately this means we can only guess how much the 6-cell unit would last. While browsing with the backlight set at 100% we were managing around three hours on our sample. We tried playing some video too, and the 3-cell battery threw in the towel after 2 hours and 15 minutes. You could probably get a bit more than three hours in real life, if you turn off some features and reduce backlight intensity.
This isn't bad for a 3-cell battery, and you can probably look forward to 5+ hours of regular use with the 6-cell unit, if not even more.
If you were thinking about getting the rare and cheap €219 SKU with no hard drive, think again. In theory, you could add some extra storage with an SDHC card and end up with a dirt cheap 10-incher with solid state storage all the way. However, as the card ends up protruding out of the chassis by about 8mm, this is impossible.
Another issue, addressed earlier, is the placement of the microphone and speakers. The microphone is easily covered by your palm, and as the speakers are placed in the front, if you use it from your lap, your clothes, or a few layers of fat, will get in the way.
Lenovo is touting its QuickStart OS as an instant on operating system, however, this is simply not the case. It takes almost 20 seconds to boot, whereas XP takes 38 seconds to boot to a fully functional desktop. QuickStart allows you to browse the web, IM, Skype, manage your photos and listen to music. Basically, it lets you do most of the things you're supposed to do on a netbook.
It's most annoying drawback is that you're unable to set trackpad sensitivity, so you end up with a trackpad which allows you to scroll from the top to the bottom of the screen in one swoop, while it takes almost three full horizontal movements to move the cursor from side to side. It's very hard to get used to, and you can only hope Lenovo will fix it at some point.
Our sample didn't have QuickStart installed, so we went about installing it ourselves. We tried to download the OS from Lenovo's support page, which was pants and wouldn't link to the file. It than offered us the chance to report the broken link, but the link to report the broken link was, you guessed it, broken. Long story short, once we managed to download it, the installation went without a hitch.
So what's our verdict on QuickStart? Frankly it's nowhere near as useful as some reviewers reported a couple of months ago when it first appeared.
It's doesn't boot up as fast as we'd hoped for, and the trackpad issue is very annoying. However, it does have potential, especially if you've got kids, or if you're likely to lend your netbook to someone else, as they can play around with it without messing up anything in Windows. Also, XP does boot to a fully functional desktop in 38 seconds, but on a fresh, clean installation, and this will probably go up to over a minute once you install a thing or two. It's also a nice failsafe in case XP chooses to die while you're in the middle of something.