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Lenovo S10e offers stunning build quality

by on27 April 2009


Input Devices and Ergonomics" />

Keyboard and Touchpad

We already said the S10e has a surprisingly small footprint, and this has a somewhat negative impact on the keyboard. Although the chassis itself is small, the designers decided not to extend the keyboard all the way to the edges. This basically resulted in a keyboard which is half way between that of a 9-incher and most 10-inch netbooks. It is still pretty comfy to use, although people with big fingers should be wary, although those people should avoid all small notebooks in the first place.


Someone made the baffling decision to move the Control key one position to the right, and place the Fn key in its place. This will result in a number of failed copy/pastes until you get the hang of it. The Tab key is tiny, and so is Enter. Another non-keyboard related issue is microphone placement. You can see it just above the Atom sticker, and it's easily covered by your palm, so if you're into Skype, think about a headset.


Fortunately, the arrow keys are full size, and more importantly, the keyboard feels bulletproof. There's no flex, no squeaks and twists. As we always like to point out, you'll eventually get used to just about any layout, but you'll never get used to poor quality. Also, bear in mind that the layout differs from market to market, so be sure to check what it actually looks like in your neck of the woods.

The touchpad is also quite small, measuring just 26x57mm. However, it has a scroll bar, it's pretty fast, and we got used to it in no time. Using it to zoom in or out is a bit tough due to the size. It can be done with a little practice, but there's not much room for error with just an inch of vertical space.


The keys are a bit too small for my chunky thumb, but after a couple of days I got used to them. At least they're under the touchpad, and not on the sides, and there's no complaints about the quality whatsoever.


Although some vendors offer three USBs on their netbooks, Lenovo has just two. We can't say this is a big drawback, especially as there's a USB on each side of the chassis. Let's take a look at the layout.


The power connector, memory card reader, VGA are on the left. The USB is a bit close to the front edge, but this doesn't really make much of a difference on such a small machine.


On the right side you'll find the second USB, as well as LAN and audio connectors. Also, Lenovo is one of few vendors to include an ExpressCard 34 slot on their netbooks, although it's doubtful many people will choose to use it. Still, it can come in handy. The security lock is hidden in the hinge cover.


On the front there's nothing to report. Just three status LEDs and a decorative mesh covering two speakers. They are pretty weak, even for a netbook.


And on the back, there's absolutely nothing, apart from the battery. Our sample came with a 3-cell battery, but all S10e SKUs on the European market ship with a 6-cell power pack. It offers twice the juice, but also gives the IdeaPad a pretty big hump on its backside. The latches seem pretty tough, and keep the battery safely in place without a hint of flimsiness.


Another nice touch is the no-nonsense upgradeability, as its intestines are easily accessed through a spacious plastic lid. This is not the case with many netbooks. Add to this the ExpressCard 34 slot, and the S10e is easily the most upgradeable unit on the market. In case you were thinking about changing the OS, be warned that you'll have a tough time making the SSD work.

Under load, the S10e tends to get pretty hot, especially around the HDD. We were looking at more than 37°C after running a few benchmarks. Sounds like a lot, and it is, but netbooks aren't really meant for any CPU intensive tasks anyway, so this shouldn't be a problem for the average user.

Last modified on 28 April 2009
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