The 10-inch Lenovo Ideapad S10-3 is the latest addition to Lenovo's netbook family, after Lenovo Ideapad S10 and S10-2. It is based on the new Intel Atom N450 processor, comes with a decent feature set and probably the best keyboard we've seen on a netbook till now.
Design & Usability
The Lenovo Ideapad S10-3 isn't as thin as the original Lenovo Ideapad S10. The screen lid is elegantly textured in a glossy and matte grid of small red squares -- very unique surface. Moreover, the Ideapad S10-3's screen lid doesn't attract any fingerprints at all. The netbook may not be as thin as its predecessor (the S10-2) but it is slick nonetheless--and well built; one of the best built netbooks we've crossed path with. It weighs all of 1.2-kg with a six-cell battery, which is pretty good for a 10-inch netbook. The Ideapad S10-3 doesn't feel cheap or inexpensive, but exclusive and premium in a way. There's a nifty Wi-Fi on-off button on the left edge and a host of buttons on the Ideapad S10-3's screen's left and right edge -- haven't seen this on any other netbook.
The Lenovo Ideapad S10-3 has the best keyboard I've seen on a 10-inch netbook -- by a long mile!
The Lenovo Ideapad S10-3 has hands down the best keyboard I've seen on a 10-inch netbook -- better than the Acer Aspire One 532h's isolated keyboard. The Ideapad S10-3's edge-to-edge keyboard sports island-styled, scalloped keys like the ones we saw on the 13-inch Lenovo Thinkpad Edge, and it's an absolute treat to type on it. They keys are well laid out and provide just the right amount feedback, truly excellent. Another interesting thing about the Lenovo Ideapad S10-3 is its touchpad block -- which has no separate mouse buttons. The touchpad is smooth (we would've liked a texture, ideally) but still pretty good to use, and the mouse buttons (or their lack of) are easy to work with once you get used to them. The Ideapad S10-3's 10.1-inch LED-backlit glossy screen (1024x600 res) is evenly lit and quite bright. In comparison to the MSI Wind U160, the screen's brighter on the Ideapad S10-3 (but not as warm or saturated) and it does a great job of displaying both text and videos.
The Lenovo Ideapad S10-3 is based on the new PineTrail Intel Atom N450 1.66-GHz processor. Along with that you get 1GB of DDR2 RAM, a 250GB hard drive and onboard Intel GMA 3150 graphics. The hard drive and installed RAM on the Ideapad S10-3 is lesser in comparison to the MSI Wind U160 but equal to the Asus Eee PC 1008P Karim Rashid Edition. Apart from the standard offering of three USB ports, audio ports, VGA-out, ethernet, and multicard reader, the Ideapad S10-3 also comes with Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g and Bluetooth wireless connectivity.
The netbook also has an OEM-assigned quick-recovery partition to restore your PC. As is standard on most netbooks these days, the Lenovo Ideapad S10-3 also comes with 32-bit Windows 7 Starter Edition. It also comes with a SIM Card slot under the battery pack.
Useful Proprietary Software
The Lenovo Ideapad S10-3 is unique in our list of Top 5 Netbooks in terms of truly useful proprietary software. Let's start with Lenovo DirectShare - A useful tool that syncs all your files and data between computers and USB drives in the local network -- provided it has DirectShare installed. Lenovo ReadyComm is another utility that lets you save profiles for wireless connectivity, set file sharing options, etc. -- all in one central place, and it's pretty useful. VeriFace Logon for logging into your Ideapad S10-3 without entering password every time.
A special mention of two shortcut keys that are etched on the Ideapad S10-3's right screen bezel, near the hinge. There's the OneKey button which lets you configure system backup, system recovery tools and create recovery discs -- an extremely useful software. The second key is for Lenovo Quick Start instant-ON operating system (powered by Splashtop), and it's very similar to the instant-ON tool we saw in HP Mini 210-1095tu netbook -- boots into the OS within a few seconds, and has all the tools to keep you connected online. To cut a long story short, the Lenovo Ideapad S10-3 comes with truly invaluable proprietary tools.
Some of the more useful tools that come along with the Lenovo Ideapad S10-3: VeriFace, OneKey, ReadyComm
There isn't much performance difference between the Lenovo Ideapad S10-3 and the rest of the Intel Atom-based netbooks in our Top 5 Netbooks list. A WorldBench 6 score of 33, PC Mark 05 score of 1344, and 3D Mark 06 score of 144 is all very close to the Acer Aspire One 532h, MSI Wind U160, and the Asus Eee PC 1008P. I could multitask with up to three programs -- surfing the Web on Firefox, listening to music on iTunes, and working on Microsoft Office 2007 Word document -- without the system slowing down. Reading text for extended hours went well on the Ideapad S10-3's screen, and we could also watch video files without any issues. However, the S10-3 couldn't quite play 720p HD video files smoothly, but it handled 480p YouTube videos pretty well.
Also, of the netbooks in our Top 5, we felt the onboard audio was best on the Lenovo Ideapad S10-3 netbook (by netbook standards). It was pretty loud and clear for a small room, without unnecessary distortions.
Battery life on the Lenovo Ideapad S10-3's six-cell battery lasted a respectable 3 hours 43 mins in our synthetic battery tests. That might be less than the other netbooks in our Top 5, but it is still very good. You can easily expect over 7 hours of browsing the Web over Wi-Fi on a conservative battery plan on the Ideapad S10-3 -- that is more than enough for most users.
The Lenovo Ideapad S10-3 sells for Rs. 21,290. For that price you get a 10-inch netbook with the best keyboard to type on and a host of very useful proprietary software -- something that none of its competitors have. It also has a decent feature set and comes with Instant-ON Web operating system. Sure, you don't get as much RAM and hard drive as the MSI Wind U160, but buy this for its fantastic keyboard. But if you want more RAM and hard drive space, go for the MSI Wind U160.