Thursday, 9 February 2012

Lenovo IdeaPad S10-3t

Netbooks come in many variations, but few have had success as convertible tablets. Part of the problem is cost, since a rotating hinge and touch display are drive up the cost. Demand for tablets hasn't exactly been surging either, well, aside from the Apple iPad. Those who do make convertible netbook tablets, such as Gigabyte and Viliv, are sold through special dealers, usually at high premiums. The Lenovo IdeaPad S10-3t ($650 direct) is a convertible tablet that is available through Lenovo's channels.
Running 2GB of memory and Windows 7 Home Premium, you can buy an entry-level version for as low as $550. Aside from some speed issues and an irritatingly small touchpad, the S10-3t is your best shot at bringing home a netbook tablet.
Because a swivel hinge and a touch panel usually add to a laptop's dimensions, the S10-3t is thicker and longer (11 by 6.9 by 1.1 inches, HWD) than typical 10-inch netbooks like the Editors' Choice Toshiba mini NB305-N410 ($400 direct) (10.4 by 7.4 by 0.8 inches) and HP Mini 5102 ($400 direct) (10.3 by 7.1 by 0.9 inches). Although it weighs as much as the Toshiba NB305 (2.9 lbs) and HP 5102 (2.8 lbs), the other two came with 6-cell batteries—a lighter 4-cell battery is the S10-3t's equalizer. In addition, Lenovo did little to spice up the design. The shiny black top, which attracts unsightly marks, is as plain as that of the Acer Aspire One 532h-2326 ($350 street). It lacks the appeal of metals and textures, such as those found in the HP 5102 and Toshiba NB305.
The swivel screen is what sets the S10-3t apart from average netbooks. Rotate it 180 degrees, and the screen can be laid flat against the keyboard. Tablets, like the Archos 9 and the Apple iPad, are slates that don't come with the luxury of a built-in keyboard. The screen measures 10-inches wide, and its size and resolution (1,024 by 600) are consistent with that of its rivals, except Lenovo added a capacitive touch layer; the iPad has a similar-sized screen but with a slightly higher resolution (1,024-by-768). With any finger, you can navigate the desktop as if it were an Apple iPhone or iPad; you can use two fingers, as it's a multi-touch panel, to pinch and enlarge photos and documents. The touch screen is meant to be used solely with your fingers, so the S10-3t doesn't include a stylus or an active digitizer for handwriting recognition. For such tablet capabilities, you should consider the Lenovo ThinkPad X201 Tablet (stay tuned for our review) or HP TouchSmart tm2 instead.
Overall, the touch gestures were fluid and responsive. Next to the screen are three physical keys that can change the screen's orientation, launch a media suite designed around touch, and mute the volume. The iPad, on the other hand, has a single button that takes you back to the home screen. Portrait mode was ideal for reading long web pages such as Facebook and When the screen is laid flat against the keyboard, the S10-3t makes for a decent e-Book reader experience as well, though glare from the glossy screen was bothersome at times. A netbook like the HP 5102 has an option for a multi-touch panel as well, but it doesn't have the swiveling capability.
The best part about having a convertible tablet PC is that you don't lose an amenity like a built-in keyboard. Lenovo squeezed in a near-full size keyboard, which is as comfortable and as responsive as some of its bigger laptops. The keyboard has a traditional look, unlike the isolated "chiclet" formats made popular by the Toshiba NB305 and HP 5102. Hard to believe, but the single-piece touchpad, which combines the touchpad and the mouse buttons, is actually smaller than the one found in the non-tablet version. It's so small that the touchpad is meant to accommodate only one finger at a time, which means you have to navigate and click with the same finger.

The S10-3t's feature set is passable as a netbook. It comes with only two USB ports, when others like the Lenovo ThinkPad S10-3 ($370 direct), Toshiba NB305, and HP 5102 each have three. A VGA and Ethernet port are also present. There's a pull-out tab in the S10-3t's front bezel that uncovers the SD slot; this is more annoying to access than an open one. Like most netbooks these days, the S10-3t comes with built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi and a 250GB hard drive.
This configuration is optimized for touch, so Lenovo didn't settle for average netbook parts—an Intel Atom N450, 1GB of memory, and Windows 7 Starter Edition. Instead, the S10-3t runs on a higher-clocked 1.83GHz Atom N470 processor, 2GB of memory, and Windows 7 Home Premium. Although the touch experience didn't lag, you couldn't tell from my performance tests that these were faster parts. Part of it is because Windows 7 Home Premium is a more resource-intensive operating system, so SYSMark 2007 scores were in line with netbooks like the Toshiba NB305 and Acer 532h-2326. At 4 minutes 23 seconds, its video encoding score failed to impress as well.
Earlier, I mentioned that the S10-3t shipped with a 29Wh (4-cell) battery, which is about half the size of the one found in the Toshiba NB305 (61WH), HP 5102 (66Wh), and Dell Inspiron Mini 10s($425 direct) (57WH). As a result, the S10-3t scored just 3 hours, 39 minutes in MobileMark 2007 tests, and there's no option for a bigger battery either.
Despite a small touchpad and lackluster performance scores, there aren't many convertible tablets that run on netbook parts. The Lenovo IdeaPad S10-3t is one of the few netbooks willing to give you a rotating touch screen and near-full size keyboard for a reasonable starting price. That alone should pique the interests of frugal tablet enthusiasts.
Check out the test scores for the Lenovo IdeaPad S10-3t
Spec Data
Type General Purpose, Ultraportable, Value, Tablet, Netbook
Processor Name Intel Atom N470
Operating System Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium
Processor Speed 1.83 GHz, 1.83 GHz
Weight 2.8 lb, 2.8 lb
Screen Size 10.1 inches, 10.1 inches
Screen Size Type Widescreen
Graphics Card Intel GMA 3150
Graphics Memory 64
Storage Capacity (as Tested) 250 GB, 250 GB
Networking Options 802.11n, 802.11n
Primary Optical Drive External
Battery Type 29 Whr (Watt hours)
Tech Support 1 year parts and labor
MobileMark 2007 – Standard Battery Productivity Load (hrs:min) 3:39
MobileMark 2007- Performance score 65
SYSMARK 2007 - E-Learning 34
SYSMARK 2007 - Video Creation 39
SYSMARK 2007- Office Productivity 39
SYSMARK 2007 - 3D Modeling 31

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