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Sep 21, 2011
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Tablets and smartphones may be all the rage these days, but there are some holdouts who simply cannot (or refuse to) turn their backs on the notebook/netbook market. These holdouts have something coming their way, thanks to Lenovo. The global brand seems to say "better late than never" with the S100, the newest addition to its IdeaPad product line and its third 10-incher after the S10-3 and S10-3T. But is it worth the wait? We at the Techie lab got right down to work amidst all the local product launches, tech headlines, and news of patent-related lawsuits.

Physical interface

One thing's for sure: this diminutive machine is far from conservative, looks-wise. With a royal blue textured lid and palm rest and the same hue for the trackpad (with the usual black for the left and right portions and underside), it's sure to grab consumers' attention or, at the very least, merit numerous glances. Unlike other devices, the S100's a bit on the chunky side when the battery's slapped on. However, it does give the netbook's bum the necessary lift to help the unit breathe underneath. There are two other things worth mentioning: the Power button is placed beside the display (specifically, the unit's lower left portion), deviating from its usual location on other laptops and a Quick Start button allows users to make use of some of the S100's handy features without completely booting it up - a boon for extremely impatient consumers.

Ports

Given that this is a netbook, you can't expect abundance in terms of size and the number of available ports. The chiclet keyboard's a bit compressed and requires typing adjustments but poses no problems once you've become accustomed to it. Additionally, there are only three USB 2.0 ports available which won't be enough for users who depend on a lot of peripherals and external drives for daily computing tasks. The unit also makes do with a VGA port; we would've loved to see HDMI on this baby.

Innards

As for the internals, the Windows 7 Starter-powered S100 has an Intel Atom N570 dual-core processor, which made its worldwide debut at the start of 2011. Visual concerns are handled by an Intel GMA 3150 processor, while a 250GB hard disk and WLAN/Bluetooth connectivity round things up.

Performance

The first thing we noticed is that the S100's slow on the uptake. Launching multiple programs and browser tabs (like many computer users do on a regular basis) gave us a very noticeable lag in response time and there were a few instances where we were left drumming our fingers on the table or resisting the urge to get up and make a cup of coffee while waiting. Our test scores reflect this sluggishness: NovaBench gave the device a score of 193 while the Windows Experience Index yielded a 3.9 rating. Oh, and a word of warning: this netbook spews out a fair amount of heat on the left side, so keep your hands away from that part.

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Battery life

However, the S100 excelled in a very important aspect: battery life. Battery Bar gave us an estimated 5:12 hours of battery life and around 4 to 4.5 hours with heavy and continuous usage which is actually longer than what some newly released notebooks can muster. This means you can get more work and "work" done than the other folks in coffee shops with bigger machines and you don't have to make a beeline for the power outlets as often as they do. Seeing that today's gadgets require more quality time with the socket than in previous years, this advantage is pretty hard to downplay. The S100 also did well with our media and audio files although sound quality can get tinny at the maximum volume level.

Our say

If you're looking for an early Christmas present and prioritize looks, basic functions and battery life for your portable computers, the Lenovo S100 is a good option. It won't cost a lot, too, having an SRP pegged at P19,500 which is within the normal range of how similar machines usually go. Otherwise, it may be best to wait for other netbook releases - or finally cave in to that darn tablet craze.

Check out the gallery below for review photos

Click here to view the Lenovo IdeaPad S100 in the Buyer's Guide

WORDS BY Neps Firmalan
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