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Lenovo IdeaPad S10-3t review

First Looks: Lenovo IdeaPad S10-3t

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A Tablet Surprise

Lenovo's IdeaPad range of netbooks has always stuck to the familiar yet functional netbook form factor, so its latest netbook comes as surprise with its touchscreen and tablet form factor. That's right, the IdeaPad S10-3t takes a leap into the realm of tablet computing, leaving its more mundane cousin, the IdeaPad S10-3 behind.

A Touchy Future

With the new tablet interface, the Lenovo IdeaPad S10-3t is definitely finger-friendly, and the new capacitive screen is testament to this. Lenovo has also added in finger-friendly applications in the machine with its Lenovo Natural Touch application. Basically this app allows you to easily interact with the netbook, accessing e-books, music, videos, pictures and a quick note program with just a flick of your finger.

While we've tried similar touch-based apps before from other vendors, Lenovo seems to have solved the main issue that made those other machines less than ideal as touch devices. Our previous experiences with tablets have always been hampered by lag but this time, the awful delay of the application, either due to bad coding or an inadequate processor seems to have been fixed. The Natural Touch app was responsive to the touch of our fingers.

Besides the Natural Touch app, Lenovo has included a Quick Start feature using Splashtop, a BumpTop feature for playing with your desktop icons, and a Lenovo DirectShare feature that allows for file sharing between computers as long as both machines have the program installed and running on the same network. Then again, if you already have Windows HomeGroup set up on your Windows 7 machine, you probably won't need this, though it could be useful for those without.

A New Look

Looks-wise, the S10-3t seems to have retained some elements of the IdeaPad S10-2 though it's not as curvy. The top half sports a pretty looking cover design called the Rain Flower Pebble that will easily be smudged with fingerprints, so be warned. Besides the addition of the touchscreen, the IdeaPad S10-t3 feels and handles just like any other netbook, and seems to keep much of the older S10-2's design, particularly the lower half.

The keyboard is again mostly identical, though the trackpad does away with the shiny buttons and merges these buttons onto the trackpad itself. We're none too sure about this change, but it does seem usable while we played with the unit. We're guessing that you would be keeping the device in tablet mode most of the time, so you might want to note that the onscreen virtual keyboard doesn't seem to work quite well in our opinion (nor does it invoke automatically in tablet mode).

Tablet Performance

Since the S10-t3 uses the new Intel Atom N450, performance is expected to be similar to most of the other Intel Atom machines. We're not expecting any big jump in performance scores and that was what we obtained when testing with PCMark05. Scoring just 1182 PCMarks, the S10-3t scored lower then a similarly equipped ASUS Eee PC 1005PE with its 1324 PCMarks, but on the CPU side of scores the 1431 PCMarks of the S10-t3 easily matched the 1438 PCMarks of the 1005PE.

With its 4-cell battery, the S10-3t lasted for 2 hours 45 minutes, a decent amount of time to remain unplugged. A 8-cell battery is also available that should easily double the lifespan of the netbook.

Tablet Twist

With a twist and a turn, Lenovo seems to have succeeded in making a cheap portable tablet that doesn't share much of the weaknesses of previous Intel Atom based tablets. While the design remains pretty familiar, especially the lower half, the capacitive touch screen seems to have spiced things up in our books.

If Lenovo can get the onscreen virtual keyboard to work properly while the unit is in tablet mode, then for just S$1049, the Lenovo S10-3t seems to be shaping up to be quite a good deal, no?