Unlike earlier IdeaPads, the S205 proudly sports a chiclet keyboard, like its U160 sibling. It is a nice improvement over classic keyboards used on larger IdeaPad models. It looks a bit classier and the smooth finish feels better. As we said earlier, flex is not an issue and you will get used to the layout in no time. Lenovo says it’s “98 percent of full size”, as near as makes no difference really.
The layout is typical of Lenovo notebooks and our only major objection is the placement of the L-Ctrl and Fn keys. Personally, I already use a Lenovo so this isn’t an issue, but trust me, it takes some getting used to. The slim Enter key also might prove a bit troublesome for novice users. These are all minor issues and in general the keyboard is good, so there is nothing to worry about once you get the hang of it.
As for the touchpad, we are not impressed. It measures a meager 61 x 38mm and we feel Lenovo should have done more to squeeze in a few extra millimeters. Granted, we are spoiled by spacious touchpads on larger 13- and 15-inch notebooks, but other vendors manage to offer larger touchpads on their 11.6-inchers, so Lenovo could and should have done better. One might argue this is the result of using the U160 as the basis for the S205, but frankly the touchpad is too small even by last year’s standards.
The touchpad features a scroll bar and supports multitouch gestures, but its limited size hampers multitouch functionality. The buttons aren’t great, either. They feel mushy and have too much travel for our taste, which is also a traditional IdeaPad flaw.
Speaking of tradition, Lenovo has consistently used cramped touchpads in its smallest IdeaPads, dating back to the first S10, which we tested three years ago. Reviewers and consumers have been moaning about them ever since, but to no avail.
Ergonomics, Everyday Use
Lenovo tends to come up with no-nonsense designs and we rarely complain about the layout or user friendliness of their notebooks. The IdeaPad S205 is no exception, all connectors and buttons are well placed and there’s nothing out of the ordinary.
The front side features no connectors, just four status LEDs.
Nothing at the back, either, keep looking.
The right side features two USBs, HDMI, LAN and audio connectors.
The left is dominated by the exhaust vent, but there’s still room for VGA, power connector, card reader and a lone USB port.
So, does the cheap IdeaPad work in real life?
Well, its 1,366x768 LED screen delivers decent contrast and vivid colors, but viewing angles are rather limited.
Lenovo uses glare screens on its IdeaPad series and users who prefer matte panels have to go for Edge notebooks instead. Of course, we prefer matte screens, but few cheap notebooks feature them.
Battery life was anything but impressive. Despite the 2200Ah, 48Wh 6-cell battery, the little Lenovo manages between 3.5 and 4 hours of regular use (office, wireless, browser). With more load, endurance can drop to about 3 hours, even less with demanding HD content or other power-sucking applications. Lenovo promises up to 5 hours, but realistically, you’d be lucky to squeeze out four hours doing just about anything.
This is probably why Lenovo is shipping 6-cell batteries even with the cheapest SKUs, as battery life on a 3-cell unit would have been abysmal. You could try undervolting it, but this is not something average consumers would do. Besides, the results vary depending on each individual notebook.