16 Comments

Summary:

The race to get tablets to market has hit the lowly netbook sector, with several models already available and more likely on the way. I love me some slate goodness, and was delighted when Lenovo sent a IdeaPad S10-3t over for a test drive.

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The race to get tablets to market has hit the lowly netbook sector, with several models already available and more likely on the way. I love me some slate goodness, and was delighted when Lenovo sent the IdeaPad S10-3t over for a test drive. The S10-3t is the third generation of the Lenovo netbook I tested a while back, and while it’s available in a “normal” netbook configuration the unit I am testing has the convertible multitouch option.

The S10-3t is a 10-inch netbook with some unusual features due to the swivel screen option. It is as small as can be and still fit a screen that size into the case. Lenovo had to make some concessions to keep the netbook this small; it has a multitouch trackpad with no buttons. The two buttons are incorporated into the trackpad itself, something that has been done with varying results by other OEMs. The implementation on the S10-3t works surprisingly well; I normally don’t like this approach but don’t mind this on as implemented here.

The unit I am evaluating has the following configuration:

  • CPU: Intel Atom N470, 1.83 GHz
  • Memory: 2 GB
  • Storage: 250 GB, 5,400 rpm
  • Display: 10.1-inch, 1024×600, capacitive multitouch-enabled
  • Ports: 2xUSB 2.0, VGA out, audio in, audio out, power, RJ-45, SD/MMC slot
  • Communications: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1
  • Webcam: yes (resolution unspecified)
  • OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium
  • Battery: 4-cell
  • Dimensions and weight: 11.0 x 6.9 x 1.1 inches, 2.8 lbs.

The keyboard on the S10-3t has low profile keys, and it yields a decent typing experience. The aforementioned trackpad is small but works nicely due to the rippled surface. There are two tiny dots on the trackpad, one in each lower corner, to demonstrate where each mouse button lives. Simply click the trackpad in the lower corners to perform left and right mouse clicks.

Lenovo has leveraged its experience making convertible Tablet PCs for years into the design of the convertible function on the S10-3t. The screen will swivel around in either direction, a nice feature as it is not necessary to remember which way it rotates. It swivels around to slate mode smoothly, and while there is no latch to secure it in that mode the screen does not wiggle around.

The bezel around the screen is populated with indicators and buttons to make using the S10-3t easy in slate configuration. There is a large power button that lights up, coupled with a lock slider. The lock slider allows throwing the netbook into a bag while in slate mode without the risk of a button accidentally powering up the device. Underneath the screen (notebook configuration) are 6 LED indicators that show power, battery, wireless radio, HDD activity, caps lock and number lock. On the left side of the screen are three buttons: one to fire up the Lenovo Natural Touch interface, a screen rotation button and a mute button.

The web cam is on the right of the screen, and while it is toward the top of the screen (notebook configuration), it’s lower than those located above the display. This puts the camera off to the side slightly, something that must be taken into account when using Skype.

Using the S10-3t in notebook mode works much like any netbook. The glossy screen is bright and vivid, and the device gives a good notebook experience. The display orientation auto-rotates when it is swiveled around into portrait configuration, although it rotates into upside-down landscape orientation. That is probably configurable and I’ll have to adjust that.

The S10-3t makes for a nice slate tablet, albeit without true inking capability due to the capacitive digitizer. The multitouch functions well, although it can lag at times due to typical Atom processor behavior. Some may find the 600 pixels to be very narrow in portrait mode, especially when surfing the web.

The IdeaPad S10-3t is as good a convertible netbook as you will find, but that comes at a price. The unit as reviewed will cost you $649 on the Lenovo web site, so you’d better have a driving need for the tablet functions.

 

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

  1. James, I am a business dude and a confirmed tablet-slate kind of guy. I am currently using a Motion 1600 slate for my note taking and other kinds of casual browsing. I carry around a Lenovo tablet for my regular business stuff.

    Here’s what I’m looking for (from some manufacturer). I want to browse the Web (research and blogs), answer email, and use Onenote (or some kind of notetaking software – BTW unless something has changed…Evernote isn’t good enough yet – I use a stylus and the text or graphic notetaking has to be transparent). A 10″ screen is fine. I can live with 1024 x 600 but of course 1280 x 768 or 1024 would be better. Multi-touch is appreciated but if I have to choose between multi-touch and note taking, I’ll take notetaking.

    I use Onenote occasionally to create text, but most of the time I just take handwritten notes and add a little text here and there to make things easy to find. But the Motion at 3 lbs is heavy after a while, so the lighter the better…1.5 lbs or less. And at least 5 hours of battery.

    Last I don’t have to use Windows. I am happy to use Android or anything else as long as there is some kind of notetaking, browsing, etc. The iPad is getting close, it does most of everything I need (and the cool factor is a 10) but no multitasking and ackward at best note-taking make it a no-starter for me.

    Oh great JK, is there anything out there that fits this bill?

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    1. The ink notetaking is the problem task in your scenario. The only slates that can handle handwriting well are the Motions or the TabletKiosk Tablet PCs. You’re probably stuck with the weight you mentioned, though. There’s no such device that is super light, slate form and can handle inking properly. Not yet, anyway.

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      1. I’d argue that while the Fujitsu P1630 has a resistive digitizer, it has very good palm rejection making it an adequate inking convertible. I don’t recall what reviewers have said about the U820 palm rejection (or lack thereof), though the size probably makes it less necessary.

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  2. Whoops…and I’m looking for a slate form factor…realized I didn’t make that clear.

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  3. James you’ll have fun with the Lenovo S10-3t. I find it to work pretty decent. if anyone wants to see the S10-3t in action. I have posted some videos at http://www.hggadgets.blogspot.com or at youtube http://m.youtube.com/?dc=organic&source=mog#/watch?v=K3oedAql65k&client=mv-google

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  4. I’m in the same situation. I’m using an older Motion 1400 that is in need of replacement. It’s just wearing out. I was holding my breath for this new round of slates, but it looks like inking just isn’t a priority anymore.

    I’m going to start looking at ebay for a used motion tablet. I hear the LS800 does windows 7 quite well. If I can’t find one in good conditon, I’ll go for one of the bigger moton tablets.

    I was really hoping someone would make an Atom Powered slate that would ink. Oh well.

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  5. Mobilegadgetgeek Wednesday, March 17, 2010

    I agree, as an inker I feel left out of the equation in this big rush of slates recently. It seems that all the manufacturers are putting all the effort into multi-touch and not thinking anyone wants to ink. I am in the same camp as DennisVjames since I have to use a full size Fujitsu convertible to get inking capabilities that I want. Also on that note DennisVjames, you might want to give Evernote another try. The last update featured some really nice inking features. I use Evernote as a paid member and OneNote a lot. I had high hopes for the Entourage Edge since it had the Wacom penabled eink screen, but after seeing how slow it is with inking and its over 3 pound weight it might be a no go. I understand James is getting a review unit so I will hold off judgment til then. So add my vote to the inking camp rather than the multi touch.

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  6. Sorry to go off subject. When I saw the IdeaPad info I guess my Inker heart just couldn’t take it no mo :-).

    The Motion 800 and 1600 can’t do Windows 7 (yeah I know that there are some folks who have figured it out but Motion says the hardware won’t support it and when a few of the IT guys I know threw up their hands I gave up too), so as long as you are happy with XP Tablet you are good to go. Motion offers good hardware.

    I’ve looked at the Fujitsu P series and I like them (sticker shock). If I can ebay one cheaply I might give that a shot.

    I’ll take another look at Evernote…I am a serious Onenote junky tho…am I too jaded to share my love of Onenote with other notetaking software?

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  7. Today’s convertibles are either too heavy or too expensive. The old HP tc1100 should be updated with an Atom processor for longer battery life and Win 7. The Lenovo IdeaPad U1 Hybrid is ok, but I want Windows 7 rather then Android on the slate part. It’s also too expensive.

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  8. RE comment byDennis V. James. Dennis. I use an older model of Motion Computing (1400, aLenovo travel keyboard (I like the trackpoint/eraser mouse as I don’t have to take my hands off the keyboard to use it but it also comes with a finger pad) and a Cricket stand to hold the tablet as a MC in either in portrait or landscape position.

    If I have a table/desk, then I put the cricket, MC and keyboard on table or, if not enough room, the keyboard goes on my lap.

    I also found a inexpensive case that I could fix so the top would stand at 90 degrees for something to keep the MC upright and the keyboard keeps it from slipping forward so it acts like a laptop. To balance it, I use a T-Pot camera table tripod wth an extension unit, took the swivel off, cut the screw, added male velcro on it and the female velcro on the bottom of the case and. walla, the heighth is adjustable as not all chairs are the same heigth, it makes it so the keyboard is about were it would be for a desktop, it rests on three points — the tripod leg and my two legs.

    It all (tablet, keyboard, 2 tripod units, power cords etc) into the case. Weights less than 5 lbs. If I don’t need the tripod units until I arrive somewhere, I put them in my luggage or other carry-on.

    Hope this will help you solve your problem.

    Alan
    azell@aol.com

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  9. I was going to ask you to compare it to the Fujitsu 1630. Then I saw it’s 1/3 the price.

    I’m an inker, too. I suspect that will cost me, as it has over the years, and I’ll probably pay for it in my next purchase. This Lenovo is another one that’s not for me.

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  10. I’ve used this model in person. I found the slate mode quite unusable.

    Inaccurate Touchscreen.
    It took several taps for actions such as closing a window. I’m not sure whether the problem lies with the screen, or the slow processor or the fact that the close button is a very small target to hit even with my fingernails.
    Poor quality display
    The screen had a very narrow viewing angle. My friend and I were standing right next to each other and I had a lot of difficulty in placing the screen at a comfortable angle for both of us to read. So, sharing media or giving a demo would be impractical.
    No automatic onscreen keyboard
    When you click on any kind of text form – like the Start menu – no onscreen keyboard will pop-up in slate mode.
    Slow.
    It felt slower than current notebooks that have WinXP and only 1GB RAM.
    Heavy
    It felt quite heavy to handle standing around.

    I have a stake in the retail outlet that is selling this model and I’m recommending them to get rid of it asap and not restock. Without inking functionality it could be sold as a consumption/demo device – but the screen and weight is a dealbreaker. I’d recommend anyone considering this model to use it physically first.

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    1. All fair observations. I should point out that the capacitive digitizer used on this model will not work with fingernail taps. It needs full fingertip presses to work.

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      1. Oh thanks. I’ll pass on that info.

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