Lenovo has added a larger netbook to its product line with the IdeaPad S12. The S12 features a 12-inch screen, which is 2 inches larger than the S10, and weighs 3.4 pounds. Aimed at the under $500 crowd, this little machine really delivers. With a full-size keyboard and five-hour battery, the S12 might be that sweet spot between small netbooks and ultraportable notebooks.
The Lenovo IdeaPad S12 comes with an Intel Atom N270 CPU, 1 gigabyte of RAM, Broadcom 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, a built-in 1.3 megapixel video camera, a 160GB hard drive and a 12.1-inch 1280x800 LED screen.
One of the best features of the S12 is its LED screen, which offers great contrast and improved battery life. The 1280x800 screen resolution is a much-needed improvement over the smaller S10's resoultion, and some software packages will not run unless the screen has one of the standard resolutions available. The S12 also is available with a 256 megabyte Nvidia ION graphics card, which allows playback of 720p and 1080p high-definition video.
Lenovo has hit a home run with the S12's full-size keyboard. One major complaint I've had with netbooks is that the keyboards are much smaller than standard. That's not the case here.
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In the past, about the only business use I could see for netbooks was for mobile workers who need to keep their luggage light. The Lenovo IdeaPad S12 has made me rethink that. It offers a great alternative for those who want the functionality of a notebook, without the weight.
The S12 comes with VeriFace Recognition software for that extra level of enterprise security, and it also has a one-button backup key, which makes for a quick save of important data. The unit is very durable and easily withstands the normal bumps and bruises of everyday use.
The S12's 1GB of memory is too light for most business users. The unit also doesn't have a CD-ROM attached, but it does have three USB slots, one ExpressCard slot and a 4-in-1 media card reader. Of course, CDs are used less and less today as flash USB drives become more affordable and Internet bandwidth increases.
For me, the S12's Atom CPU presents another downside. As a power user, I find that the Atom CPU just can't keep up with my day-to-day tasks. It's really just best for e-mail, web browsing and basic office work.
Lenovo also has yet to put their popular trackpoint on any of their netbooks. Instead they have gone with a very small touchpad. If you have been a Lenovo/IBM user for any amount of time, then you will miss the trackpoint on the S12.
However, all things considered, the Lenovo IdeaPad S12 is probably my favorite netbook and the only one I would consider using.