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Let's start off with some storage benches. Although the S10e uses a 4GB SSD as the system drive, this doesn't mean it's using a lighting fast drive, to the contrary.
HD Tune wasn't impressed, and neither was Sandra.
The average speed was 24.1MB/s and burst speed was rated at just 21.3MB/s. The average access time was 0.6ms, or negligible, while CPU utilization was 8.3 percent. Sandra found it had an average read speed of 26.1MB/s and 1ms access time. Basically, it's almost like using a glorified USB stick as your hard drive. This is the norm in this price range, and Lenovo is not the only vendor to use slow SSDs - they all do.
Western Digital's 160GB hard drive turned out to be a decent performer, as you can see below.
The real trouble with the SSD has more to do with its capacity than its speed. With XP and the 180MB QuickStart OS installed, you end up with about 1.3GB of free space, and this is obviously nowhere near enough for even the most basic applications. So, you will end up using the hard drive for apps, and you can forget about saving a few watts on account of the SSD, although this could potentially slightly improve performance, but only in certain scenarios.
It does feel a bit more responsive than other netbooks we came across, but we don't believe the SSD greatly improves overall performance, especially considering it costs you €40 extra. You're probably thinking the SSD helps the Lenovo boot a bit faster, well it does, but the difference is small if any, and with the OS on the HDD, it takes it just over 40 seconds to boot.
There's really not much to say when it comes to CPU and graphics benchmarks. It's an Atom, and it's not designed with rendering or other number crunching operations in mind. As you can see, like all 3D rendering software, Cinebench likes HyperThreading.
The overall 3Dmark 06 score was 92, while the CPU score was 476.
Basically we could have skipped these benchmarks altogether. The Atom does what it's supposed do. It's optimized for power efficiency and undemanding, everyday applications, not rendering or encoding. It's about three times slower than the slowest Core 2 Duo CPUs found in most notebooks, and in more demanding tasks (i.e. Cinebench), the gap widens. Nevertheless, it's sufficient for browsing and office applications, and if you need more than that, you shouldn't be considering netbooks in the first place.
As usual we'll start with the bad stuff. We don't like the glare screen very much, although the display quality is really good. It fails outdoors, in bright rooms and in vehicles, and a matte screen would have been a better choice, even at the cost of some quality. The fact that it features a somewhat lower resolution than most netbook screens doesn't help either.
The IdeaPad tends to heat up slightly more than most netbooks, and it has just two USBs. These are minor issues, and few if any users will miss the third USB, or keep it under load long enough for heat to become a problem. There's no draft-n wireless, the touchpad is a bit cramped, but it's good, it has a scroll bar and supports some multitouch features. Although the keyboard could have been a tad bigger, it makes up for its lack of size with its ruggedness.
Build quality is impressive, and bear in mind that the S10e is cheap. In fact, it is one of the cheapest 10-inch netbooks on the market, and it offers good value for money. However, saying a netbook is cheaper than the competition doesn't mean much, as most are very closely priced, which means you can get something else from different vendor for lunch money. Having said that, investing in this particular SKU, with an additional 4GB SSD really doesn't make much sense, and you're much better off getting a cheaper version with HDD only.
On the bright side, the IdeaPad S10e is one of the smallest 10-inchers in this price range. At 1.25kg with a 6-cell battery, it's not heavy either. However, the 6-cell power pack sticks out badly, which is not the case on some other netbooks, like MSI's Wind for example. Lenovo is one of few vendors to offer an ExpressCard 34 slot, and you can use it to add a modem or even a TV tuner to it, although most consumers will never touch it.
In spite of its small footprint and low weight, it's one of the most rugged netbooks out there. The materials feel good, and build quality is truly exceptional at this price point, with an emphasis on the rock solid keyboard. The screen hinges feel like you could use them on bank vault doors, and the chassis feels like a brick. The design is pretty good too, and compared to most cheerful netbooks out there, it looks pretty serious. It is very easy to upgrade, which isn't the case with most netbooks.
Overall, the pros heavily outweigh the cons, and our verdict is a positive one, a very positive one. Lenovo proves you can build an amazingly robust and durable netbook for under €300, and it doesn't compromise on looks either. If only it weren't for the 1,024x576 glare screen, it would get our Recommended award in a heartbeat.
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