Light and portable
Good battery life
500GB hard drive
Compact design means usability suffers
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The Lenovo IdeaPad S205 is a small and light laptop, but in order to keep this machine highly portable, some compromises have been made.
At just 1.4kg and with a dinky 11.6-inch screen, the IdeaPad S205 looks more like a netbook than a laptop. It's designed to be as portable as possible, and you barely even notice it when the compact body is stashed in your bag.
Thankfully, it's solidly constructed, with only a slight hint of flex. We certainly weren't worried about it breaking when we threw it into our backpack and wandered around town.
The plain black design of the interior is nothing special, although we liked the unusual and subtle boxy pattern on the lid. Despite the reduced size, the IdeaPad is still surprisingly chunky.
This is due to the battery, which protrudes from the rear of the machine and pushes it upwards. As a result, this laptop is almost as thick as the 17.3-inch Toshiba Satellite C670D. However, that raised rump means the keyboard is tilted at a more comfortable angle for typing.
Lenovo has managed to fit an isolation-style keyboard on to the compact body, which is perfect for touch-typing thanks to the gaps between the keys.
Some sacrifices have been made – such as the squashed Shift, Tab and Return keys – but the best has been made of the tiny space. However, we did get annoyed at the indented Ctrl key, which we constantly miss-hit when using Windows shortcuts.
The palmrests are understandably slim, so your palms dangle off the bottom when you're typing. It's a minor quibble, although the slender palmrests also means the touchpad is pretty small. Still, considering the shrunken chassis, the IdeaPad is surprisingly usable.
However, in our benchmarking tests we found the Lenovo was seriously lacking power, like the much bulkier Toshiba. In fact, the IdeaPad uses the same AMD processor as the Toshiba, and matches its 4GB of memory. The result is very basic performance.
Thankfully, we had no problem running office software, browsing the web and so on. The integrated graphics can also cope with standard-definition movies and you can edit your photos with simple design packages.
However, when we tried watching a high-definition film it came out as a slideshow presentation, displaying a frame every few seconds. Only basic web games such as Bejewelled actually ran at an acceptable framerate. That said, if all you need is a laptop for checking emails, enjoying your family photos and running basic software, and you value portability over performance, this laptop may be the one for you.
Not only is it slim and light, the battery lasts for over three hours when watching movies and for over four hours when browsing the web.
We're also impressed that Lenovo has crammed 500GB of hard drive space into the tiny chassis.
Battery Eater '05: 182 minutes
3DMark 2006: 2232
This is enough space to last most users years, and only the Acer here offers more storage. A 5-in-1 memory card reader can be used for extra space.
To sum up, if you need a budget machine for regular travel, the Lenovo is the best options. However, if you'd prefer a laptop with a bit more power, and are willing to carry something a little chunkier and heavier, the Acer Aspire 5742Z will suit you more.
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