Windows 7 Beta: Lenovo S10 and Me

As I mentioned earlier, I picked up a Lenovo S10 over the weekend… I wish I had a short answer on how it is, but between getting used to a new processor, form factor, and beta OS… well, there simply isn’t a short answer to the question. But one thing is certain:

It’s full of win.

The S10 I got come with 1GB of RAM and a 160GB HDD. Seem a little off balanced? Yeah, I thought so too… it also came with a single core Atom with-what-I-believe-to-be HyperThreaded processor and a 10.2″ display. Coming from a 15.4″ screen Lenovo and a 13.3″ MacBook, this is a big difference in form factors. That said, how is it holding up?

Size – I’m typing this post on it, mostly to see if it can be a notebook-replacer or simply an add on. I keep mistyping the 1 because it’s the left most key on the number row – `~ is up on the row with the F-keys. Weight-wise, it’s phenomenal. Less than three pounds, easily. True, the MacBook didn’t feel much heavier, but it simply was. I would consider the bigger battery too but time will tell on that – it’s a pricy bugger.

Keyboard – feels good. Layout is OK. Learning curve is all.

Battery Life – hard to tell because of all of the installing and the raw and untweaked Windows 7 drivers, but I believe that I’ll get 2-3 hours of usage with a Balanced power scheme, WiFi on, and the screen brightness down to minimal.

Heat – anyone that has ever heard me talk about a notebook knows heat is a huge deal for me. My Lenovo T61p and MacBook have been good with regards to a minimal amount of heat. The S10 is so-so with it. The underside isn’t remarkably hot, but the wrist rests are getting toasty after 30 minutes of light usage. HDD is on true, but I think it’s more WiFi heat than anything else. We’ll see how it holds up.

Windows 7 – a must have. XP looks so… bleh, next to Vista or OSX but neither OS would do well on this netbook. OSX is… well, a bootleg, for lack of a better term. Often a version behind and always requiring a hacked driver with unofficial support – not my cup of team for an OS I pay cash for. True, Windows 7 is in beta and may have the same worries around support for an unsupported OS, but Windows 7 will be supported after launch… it’s pretty snappy speed wise, it shows off Areo on my Intel Graphics 950 chip, and has been remarkably stable.

What was missing in getting Windows 7 Beta working?

– Before getting into Windows 7, I first wanted to cover my bases about getting back to a clean state if I needed to… since I didn’t get any recovery discs from Lenovo in the box, I went ahead first made a copy of the Drivers directory on the D: drive by hand and then ran a system backup using Lenovo’s tools… this way, I can get back to XP if I need to, ya? Ya. C: is the OS, D: is the backup software and drivers.

– Installed via an external DVD drive but I’ve heard you can make a USB thumbdrive for booting purposes… that was easy.

– After installing there was one lone missing driver. This is the Lenovo Power Manager device that needs a driver. You can use the included XP one from D:\drivers\Energy_Management – install that the device driver is picked up. This also gives you an application for Power Management – I’m not using that right now but I’ve found that you need to give that Admin rights and I don’t think I need it anyway – time will tell on that.

– Another thing that I wanted installed was an updated mouse driver so that I could turn of Touchpad tapping… for that I went to http://www.synaptics.com/ and got the Vista driver. Works well (which is good because the XP version on D: does not).

– Aero? Yep, it supports that, especially if you leave it on the balanced power setting. You also have the option of flipping to non-Aero mode to save even more power… very nice touch.

– Sound controls sorta work sometimes. Can’t tell you why but Fn + RightArrow and Fn + LeftArrow don’t impact the volume most of the time. I’ve seen it happen once or twice and I even remapped one of them to Mute, just to have a direct path to it since there’s no hardware for it. This I write off to out of date drivers.

– Other devices: everything else worked out of the box but there was a little question about the built in SD reader… been OK for a number of hours now so no worries; I think a driver got outta whack. Another thing that surprised me was the WiFi card – I think it defaults to 802.11b. Either way, I’ve opted to let it scale up to 802.11g, because I want the speed – that too can cause some more heat.

– Extra AC Adapter? It’s cheap, so thats a no braining.

– More RAM? This is an interesting one. There’s 512MB on every S10 and one SODIMM socket. On my model, I had a 512MB SODIMM pre-installed, giving me 1GB RAM. Every bit of documentation that I’ve seen says that the max for the S10 is 1.5GB RAM, and I’ve found that to be sorta true. Even though I can put a 2GB chip into the socket, the maximum the machine can see is 2GB due to the nature of the chipset in the S10. Opting to go for 2GB instead of 1.5GB, I bought the bigger SODIMM and put it in. Took a total of four minutes, all said and done.

As it stands right now, I’ve got 64% left on the battery and it tells me that means around 2:20 left on the single charge. No idea if that’s accurate but if it is, I’ll be getting more than just 2 hours outta it, since it’s been on for about an hour now.

Cannot wait to get Windows 7 on this machine with a full bevy of drivers from Lenovo – should be an incredible machine once that’s done.

Like I said: full of win.

16 thoughts on “Windows 7 Beta: Lenovo S10 and Me”

  1. hey man… this article is exactly what i needed.

    you should be a writer for engadget! you’re literary skills are phenomenal!

  2. i love mine as well and found this article whilst searching for some information on throwing Win7 on my s10. I also opted to put a 64GB SSD in mine, and I have to say I love it so far. It is more quite and I swear it is cooler. Also, a bit more zippy. I can’t wait to see what the combo of and SSD, Win7, and 1.5GB of memory will do. Interesting that you could make it see to 2GB…if I’d know that, I’d gotten a bigger SODIMM…oh well.

  3. @alex – thanks :)

    @brian – yeah, the memory was a crapshoot. I mean I’ve seen older chipsets with RAM behave weird. I had an older Lenovo ThinkPad that would only ever report 3GB in Vista and the BIOS but when I went to Vista SP1, it would report 4GB (which is what was in the machine). Bottom line is that the chipset in that ThinkPad capped out at 3GB, no matter what Windows says – same thng here. The 945 chipset caps out at 2GB so even though it tells me I have 2.5GB, the machine only uses 2GB. The bottom line for me was a $8 difference between 1GB and 2GB SODIMM sticks – figured why not.

    Excellent news on the SSD stuff though – I’ve been tempted to get one before, but with the ideapad it seems to be a solid idea… running cooler would be nice too – the thing DOES get toasty on AC power, but not enough to get rid of it!

  4. 32-bit version – [I don’t believe the] Atom is a x64 capable processor. Also, Atom isn’t dual core – it shows two processors in the Performance tab of the Task Manager because [I believe it to be] HyperThreaded.

  5. Hi Randy, I just found your blog. I enjoy it a lot. I got an Asus eee 1000H, Win 7 and OSX Leopard run great on it. Win 7 could be a real winner for MS if they had the vision/guts to build some cool stuff into it like Apple has OSX.

  6. @richard – glad you like it! Sadly, every time MS seems to add a feature to Windows, some foreign government starts suing for it, so there’s even *less* bundled software than ever in 7. Of course, Apple doesn’t have the same restrictions: OSX can includes the exact same features in their OS that Windows isn’t allowed to on foreign shelves… at least 7 has been extremely stable for a beta – I’m looking forward to the release!

  7. Hi Randy, after read your article, try to install the touch pad driver but failed, the below message from the popup window, any suggestion?

    The archive is either in unknown format or damaged

    Cannot open D:\Users\evans\Downloads\W7_Drivers\Touch Pad\Synaptics_Driver_v10_1_8_Vista32.exe

  8. Well, what’s weird to me there is that my D:\ is pretty much as Lenovo installed it – that you have a D: drive with Windows created directories… I have no idea what’s going on there. Sorry!

  9. I got a 9 cells battery off eBay for it. Extend the battery to anywhere from 9 to 11hrs at minimum settings! Love this laptop. The verticle resolution of 600pixel is a bit turned off though.

  10. I installed a copy of my friends’ vista ultimate on the s10 and I was so amazed how quick it was I purchased a copy of the less resource demanding vista home premium. I got to say running Vista home premium on my s10 is awesome! For some reason it feels more snappy then the factory XP install and I leave the windows aero on because the handles it well.

    My upgrades are:

    -2GB ram (vista is detecting 2.5gb all together which includes the non removable 512mb thats on the motherboard)

    -Intel 4965agn mini pci wifi card

    -Bluetooth chip

    1 issue i’d like to point out: my battery was dead in less then an hour and when i shut down the pc windows would unload but the s10 would say on. After I’ve installed the Lenovo Power Manager device drivers the problem went away and i’m enjoying about 2:40 hours of battery life on the 3 cell, that’s sweet :-)

    Good Luck to all and please don’t listen to ignorant people that try to tell you that Vista sucks, because they installed in on a 5 year old PC and it ran like crap. Of course it’s going to run sloooooow if your hardware is obsolete. Times change, processors, ram etc. All you need is the right hardware, and the lenovo s10 is perfect for it. Once windows 7 comes out most likely i will upgrade to it.

  11. I’m very interested in upgrading my s10 to windows 7. I heard that windows 7 really squeezes the juice out of laptop batteries. Vista is a drainer. Xp on the otherhand seems to handle the s10 quite fine, though the added bells and whistles of windows 7 attracted me. I have to read more reviews.

  12. Hey, thanks for this review, it was just what I wanted. Just purchased an S10-2 from CC today and it is coming with XP. Can’t wait to put Windows 7 on it now, with some extra RAM. So you are saying that Windows saw the extra RAM, but won’t use it??? Wierd. Is there a way to test that theory? Also, did you put OSX on your system as well? If so, maybe you could share the steps you took to install it.

  13. No worries.

    The S10 and S10-2 are based of Intel’s 945 chipset which doesn’t recognize more than 2GB of RAM. Additionally if you want to address more RAM – say 4GB or more – you need the 64-bit version of Windows, which Atom doesn’t support. So in my case I had 1GB on a stick and .5 soldiered to the motherboard; I removed 1GB and put in 2GB but Windows could only see 2GB (rather than 2.5GB)

    As for OSX, I’ve only ever run that on Apple hardware.

  14. dear Randy,

    please inform how could i get lenovo drivers for vista or windows 7?

    please reply directly to my email address, thanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *