Mini Laptop Computer Reviews – Lenovo IdeaPad S205
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In the opinion of many people, the best sub-premium netbook launched last year is the Lenovo IdeaPad S205. This is a very good example of an ultraportable that comes at a decent price tag and has some pretty interesting hardware specifications, similar to those that the HP Pavilion dm1z has, another top performer in this segment. Even though the Lenovo is about $100 more expensive than the HP, this difference might not be that important to some people since the S205 has an excellent keyboard and a better build quality, unlike the HP which feels pretty much like a budget plastic system.
The starting price of this model is $499 while the following configuration will set you back somewhere around $579. At the heart of this model is an AMD E-350 processor clocked at 1.60 GHz and 4GB of DDR3 memory running at 1,333 MHz. For storage it is equipped with a 500GB hard drive spinning at 5,400 rpm while the graphics power is handled by the AMD Mobility Radeon HD 6310M. This netbook measures 11.4 x 7.6 x 0.7 – 1.0 inches and has a curb weight of 3.1 pounds (3.6 pounds with the AC adapter).
In this price segment in which the S205 fits in, most of the netbooks adopt an all plastic construction, but this Lenovo seems to be a little better than the rest of the crowd, featuring a subtle pattern on the back of the black lid. Much like other 11-inch ultraportables, this one seems like a mild update over a 10-inch netbook. We like that the build quality is top notch and you will not notice any flex at all, not even in the middle of the keyboard, while the rest of the chassis is very well put together.
In our humble opinion, the best thing about the Lenovo IdeaPad S205 is its superb keyboard which uses an interesting variation of the popular island-style configuration which consists of flat-topped keys that are quite large. Lenovo’s keyboard replaces the regular square keys with different ones that have a convex bow to the bottom edge which improves accuracy. The only downside of the keyboard would have to be the shrunken Fn and Tab keys but other than that it is borderline perfect.
We can’t say the same nice things about the touchpad because it’s small even for an ultraportable like this one. We do like the matte texture but the amount of available space is very limited so we highly recommend an external mouse. This touchpad does offer multitouch support like two-finger scrolling or pinch-to-zoom but these are quite awkward to perform due to the limited size of the touchpad. As for the two separate left and right mouse buttons, this have quite a nice size and are comfortable to use.
The Lenovo IdeaPad S205 comes with an 11.6-inch display has a native resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels (720p HD) which seems to be the ideal resolution given the size of the display, managing to balance desktop real estate with readability. If you didn’t knew, the IdeaPad models come with glossy screens, unlike the company’s ThinkPad series which have matte displays. The glossy ones cause reflections and glare from nearby light sources which can be a problem to some people. As for the image quality, this is just about the same as the one you’ll find on other similar priced models, but we don’t like the viewing angles because these are quite limited.
Let’s talk about the connectivity features of this model and start by mentioning that in the video department it packs VGA out and an HDMI port. For audio it offers headphone and microphone jacks, while for data it comes with three USB 2.0 ports and an SD card reader. The S205 is equipped with an Ethernet port and 802.11n Wi-Fi. As you would expect, there isn’t an optical drive onboard, but this is understandable given the size of the system.
AMD’s E-350 processor is certainly a step up in comparison to the very slow Atom platform from Intel, but it still no way near as fast as a more powerful Core i3 CPU. Even so, you will most likely be pleased with the performance offered by this processor which seems to be ideal for a netbook/ultraportable.
Regarding the battery, the one in the Lenovo IdeaPad S205 is not a top performer but even so it managed to do a good run in a video playback test, surviving for almost 5 hours which for some people is more than enough. We should mention that the aforementioned HP dm1z will last for about 30 minutes more during the same test.
We have seen a lot of ultraportable solutions in 2011 but this one is probably the most interesting of them all, offering decent performance, great build quality, excellent keyboard and a solid battery life. Let’s see what Lenovo plans on launching this year for those who are on the look for an ultraportable. We hope that the days of low powered netbooks that come with the older Atom processor are over and we can focus on ultraportable that come with a decent processing power that is able to handle some mild multi-tasking while staying on the budget.
Battery life must still remain a very important feature of an ultraportable so companies should not make any compromises in this area. The ideal situation would be a more powerful processor that is more energy efficient, much like Intel’s second generation of Core processors which are not only more powerful than the first ones, but they also drain less battery. We are also very curious to find out what Asus has in its plan for this year. Why? Because Asus is the company that essentially invented the concept of a netbook and its Eee PC models have been quite interesting. Those who said that netbooks will be discontinued in the future are probably wrong because this type of product has real potential and can create (if it didn’t already) its own niche.