One of the best parts about a netbook is also one of its drawbacks.
The keyboards are undersized. The displays are tiny. But the battery life is huge, and that’s why netbooks are the hottest thing going right now.
The Lenovo S12 attempts to bridge the gap by tossing up a 12.1-inch screen and slightly larger keyboard than the usual netbook. But it is still a netbook with out the bells, whistles and optical drives of traditional computers. This model doesn’t yet have the much rumored and hotly anticipated Nvidia Ion chipset, which will let us run 1080p video and modern PC games on a low power netbook. Therefore, we’re still dealing with a regular old netbook that’s a little bigger.
That’s not a bad thing, mind you. The S12 gets more than five hours of battery life during normal use. You can squeeze out more juice if you’re really careful. The glossy screen is surprising light on the eyes. It’s back-lit running at 1280×800, which is much higher than other netbooks we’ve encountered out there.
The S12 has three USB 2.0 ports, an ethernet port, a 4-in-1 card reader, a 1.3-megapixel Webcam, 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi, an ExpressCard slot and a standard six-cell battery, which is very, very necessary. Some earlier models came with the three-cell battery. Don’t bother.
The interface is comfortable, and the touchpad is smooth and easy to navigate with. The keyboard is really comfortable to type on, but Lenovo switched the FN and CTRL keys on the left side of the keyboard. It’s a huge pain, because when you think you’re hitting CTRL-C, you’re actually hitting FN-C and not copying that text you wanted.
The 160GB hard drive and 1GB of RAM are both sufficient for the needs of a netbook user. You can even sneak a few video files on there.
The Intel ATOM N270 processor is also sufficient, especially because the S12 runs Windows XP.
Lenovo also throws in a hard drive backup utility that operates independent of the operating system and a facial recognition security utility that uses the on-board webcam.
If you’re looking for a slightly larger than normal netbook that’s comfortable, with decent battery life, look no further. At $449, it’s pricier than what you might find at the store, but the computer is stable, fairly speedy and still cheaper than a “real” laptop.