Lenovo IdeaPad S12 Review

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  • Pros

    • Pleasing design and build
    • Excellent keyboard and screen
    • Five hours of battery life
  • Cons

    • Touchpad could be a bit larger
    • Screen could tilt back further
    • Weak screen lid

by Charles P. Jefferies

The Lenovo IdeaPad S12 features a 12-inch screen and is one of the largest netbooks on the market. This 3.42-lb machine is designed to let consumers easily surf the Internet and perform other light tasks on-the-go without having to spend a lot of money. The S12 comes pre-loaded with Windows XP, has a full-size keyboard, and includes a six-cell battery for five hours of run time – read on to see how it fared in our testing.

Our Lenovo IdeaPad S12 review unit has the following specifications:

  • Intel Atom N270 processor (1.60GHz)
  • Windows XP Home Edition
  • Intel GMA 950 integrated graphics
  • 1GB RAM
  • 12.1-inch widescreen display (1280×800) with LED backlighting
  • 160GB 5400RPM hard drive (Hitachi HTS543216L9A)
  • 6-cell Li-ion battery (11.1V, 52Wh)
  • Broadcom 802.11b/g wireless
  • One-year limited warranty
  • White color (also available in black)
  • Dimensions: 11.5 x 8.5 x  0.9 – 1.4 inches (W x D x H)
  • Weight: Starting at 3.42 lb w/ 6-cell battery

As configured, our S12 is currently priced at $499. The base model starts at $449 with a VIA Nano 1.3GHz processor.

Build and Design
Since all netbooks have nearly identical specifications, manufacturers have to look at the design and build quality to differentiate themselves. Lenovo’s IdeaPad S12 is a docile and friendly-looking machine with a not a square edge in sight. The company’s second generation of netbooks feature rounded edges and a slimmer chassis. The S12 looks well built; all of the parts fit together neatly.

The back of the lid has a “fashion” design with hundreds of little circles dotting the lid. The S12 would be at home in a Target store because I think all of those little circles resemble the company’s bullseye logo. In addition, the majority of people I showed it to thought it was a girl’s machine, probably because it is white and has that circle design on the lid. Your mileage may vary – I suggest guys go with the black version.

The S12 is constructed of ABS plastic through and through. It looks and feels sturdy and is not fragile at all. The only part of the notebook that could be more solid is the battery, which wobbles ever so slightly. There is little flex anywhere on the machine, with the exception to this being the lid; ripples show on the screen when only mild pressure is put on the back of the screen. This should be a non-issue as long as the machine is not thrown around. The hinges that hold the display on are very solid as well. A point of interest about the lid is that it only tilts back about 20 degrees past vertical; given how light this machine is, it will likely be used in a variety of situations and therefore should probably tilt back another 10-20 degrees or so.

The entire base of the notebook has a matte finish, while the lid is glossy plastic front and back. The glossy plastic is surprisingly durable; I did not use a sleeve to protect the S12 in my bag during the week I had it and there were no scratches at the end of the review period.

The glossy screen attracts dust and fingerprints easily, so keep a microfiber cloth handy. As far as cleanliness goes, the white plastic stayed clean during the time I had it; only time will tell how it fares in the long term. Hopefully the plastic is not too absorbent and will not pick up stains and other discolorations. The black S12 is be better at hiding everyday wear and tear.

Compared to the Dell Inspiron Mini 12, a direct competitor to the Lenovo S12, the S12 is slightly smaller (albeit about a tenth of an inch thicker). The S12 feels deceptively heavy in the hands depending on how you pick it up (by the back, front, and so on). The stick-out 6-cell battery is the primary reason the S12 feels weighty.

Overall, the S12 has excellent fit and finish with an accommodating design.



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