Lenovo IdeaPad S10…coolest thing EVER!

November 16, 2008

s10_2Okay, so I got a little extra money this Christmas due to moving to a new company and I decided to splurge on myself a little.  I used to have a laptop and it was very handy to have.  Every time my girlfriend and I went away on vacation, we could bring it along with us and use it to find nice local restaurants or places to visit.  But the laptop I had was a big Apple MacBook Pro with a 15 inch screen.  If you’ve ever held one of these aluminum beasts you know why it isn’t that practical for quick packing up and easy carrying.  It’s pushing 6 pounds if I remember correctly.

Anyway, I long ago got rid of it on eBay.  It was a great, powerful laptop, but just too much computer for my needs.  I really just wanted a light-weight device for quick emails and short-term web surfing.  My cell phone, while powerful, only has a 2.8 inch screen which doesn’t exactly lend itself to surfing the web.

Luckily, Asus saw the need for a simple, low-power, light-weight laptop and produced the Eee PC.  It took off like a bullet and every other company jumped on the bandwagon, including the Cadillac of laptop makers, Lenovo.  Lenovo produced the IdeaPad S10, with a 10 inch screen, 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor, 512MB of RAM and a hard drive!  Now the hard drive is a great selling point because most other netbooks seem to eschew the typical laptop hard drive in favor of a low-power solid state drive.  The problem with SSDs is that they just don’t have the capacity that hard drives have.  Most netbooks offer 4GB, 8GB, or 16GB SSD configurations.  My S10 has an 80GB hard drive.  And it’s not a tiny 1.8 inch ZIF socket 4200RPM drive either.  It’s a full on laptop drive at 5400RPM.  If I ever want to swap it out for something bigger (doubtful considering the purpose of this laptop), I don’t have to hunt around for some tiny proprietary drive.

So, first thing I did when I got this thing was to install a 2GB DIMM to increase the available RAM.  Now, the Lenovo S10 ships with Windows XP Home edition.  As I said, it already has 512MB of RAM soldered onto the motherboard with one slot for additional memory.  So you would think that adding 2GB of RAM would result in 2.5GB of RAM total, right?  Not quite.  For some reason, XP won’t see past 2GB.  So even though I have 2.5GB installed, I can only see and access 2GB.  Not a big deal.  XP runs great with 2GB.  But I wanted something better.

So I installed Vista.  Say what you will about Vista, it’s not that bad.  While I feel it was rushed out the door before it had a chance to really mature into a stable product, it’s still extremely stable and powerful.

Lenovo doesn’t offer Vista drivers on their web site, so I simply used the XP drivers, which mostly worked.  There were a few devices that didn’t work with the XP drivers, such as the Synaptic touchpad and the RealTek audio.  But these drivers were easily downloaded from the respective company web sites and now they work just fine.

The big surprise came when I got Vista Business SP1 32-bit on the machine and upgraded to the latest Intel 945G chipset drivers for Vista.  Not only was the Aero interface fully available, but now the machine recognized the full 2.5GB of RAM!  Contrary to what you might think, Vista runs just fine on the 1.6GHz Atom processor as long as you have the memory maxed out.  Don’t try and run Vista on this machine with just the standard 512MB of RAM!

Aero interface works, wi-fi, bluetooth, touchpad, USB, sound, etc.  They all work just fine!  Now I have a perfect sized, modern OS laptop that can go with me anywhere and the screen is not so small that it kills me with web browsing, but it’s also not so big that it’s cumbersome.  Now, I haven’t run exhaustive battery tests on the device yet, but according to the estimates last night as I was using the device on the Balanced power setting in Vista with wi-fi enabled and surfing the web, I would have been able to get close to 3:00 hours of time on this.  Now, that time would obviously go down if I was running other apps at the same time, like Office, email, maybe some streaming video, etc.  But for simple web browsing and email, I would expect to get 2.5-3 hours of work out of one battery charge of the 3-cell battery.  As of this time, Lenovo doesn’t offer a 6-cell battery for the S10 (at least, not in the United States…maybe other countries are luckier) and frankly, I wouldn’t want one.  The 3-cell battery fits the lines and contours of the rest of the laptop perfectly.  A bulky 6-cell would provide more time, but ultimately ruin one of the main selling points of the laptop, it’s looks.

This is an EXCELLENT choice for anyone looking for an extremely portable, yet easily usable laptop.

Have any questions about the S10?  Want me to test anything in particular before you make a purchase yourself?  Let me know in the comments and I’ll post an update to this story with the results!

UPDATE:  Don posted a comment below about getting the full 2.5GB of memory available by installing Vista.  When I first wrote this article, I thought that the full 2.5GB of memory was indeed available by installing Vista.  This is an optical illusion though, which I found out when I installed Windows 7 on the S10.  While the operating system may report that 2.5GB of memory are installed, the OS will still only access 2GB of memory.  When you install Vista, you’ll see 2.5GB in the system properties, but if you open Task Manager and go to the Performance tab, you’ll see that only 2GB of physical memory are being addressed.  Sorry for the confusion in the original article.



  1. If I can save enough until Christmas, I’m also thinking of buying a netbook for me. And I really am considering the S10 and the Wind. Thanks for this, maybe I’ll go for the Lenovo.

  2. @ Zur

    I was looking at both the Wind and S10 myself. They seemed to be the only reasonably priced 10 inch netbooks on the market. One selling point about the Wind is that I believe MSI just released a new BIOS for the Wind that allows you to speed up the processor. Engadget and Gizmodo said that it provided up to 30% better performance under certain circumstances.
    To me, that is kind of pointless. While I appreciate the extra speed, I think people tend to lose sight of the point of these devices. They aren’t meant to be laptop replacements. They are much more supplemental in their rolls. So I’d prefer to have better battery life than slightly higher performance and more heat. Plus, I just really liked the look of the S10 over the Wind. To me, the S10 looks like a smaller version of a serious, professional laptop. The Wind looked more like a kid’s toy. The fact that the S10 is made by Lenovo, a company that consistently produces robust and stable business-oriented laptops was the icing on the cake for me.

  3. Nice artical. I also purchased the S-10 and really like it. Mine came with 1GB of Ram and I’d like to increase the memory to the 2GB of Ram. What is the chip i.d. that I should purchase?

    I also plan to save your article. Loading Vista and gaining the entire available memory would be great.

    • @Don –

      Pretty much any laptop memory should work as long as it’s 200 pin, DDR2-667 (PC2-5300) memory. That’s what I bought. Here is a link to the exact DIMM I bought at NewEgg.com: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231153

      I’m not sure what you mean by gaining the entire available memory by installing Vista though. Both XP and Vista will only be able to use 2GB of memory. Vista may report that 2.5GB are installed, but only 2GB will actually be used. If you open up Task Manager after installing Vista and go to the Performance tab, you should see that physical memory is capped at 2GB. From what I’ve read, this is a limitation of the hardware, so it doesn’t matter what OS you install. I know that Windows 7 and Mac OS X do the same thing with reporting 2.5GB but only accessing 2GB.

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