Base price: $349
Netbooks travel in many worlds, both business and personal, yet the Lenovo IdeaPad is distinctly comfortable in the professional workplace. The unit is priced in the middle of the pack and generally offers middle of the pack hardware. But what it does offer is well worth the money for certain time-pressured individuals who need to perform when it counts: a comfortable user interface that works well, and requires little adjustment from our more frequent full-size machine habits.
The multitouch touchpad is relatively large. Some users find it particularly easy to use, with a neat function: to click, you simply push down lightly on the lower left or right corners; no separate thumb tap required. Others users, preferring the more standard layout of separate click buttons, dont see this an advantage. The relatively spacious keyboard has a top reputation as offering solid, touch type-helpful finger response, more or less like a full-size keyboard. And really, what aspect of a machine aids user comfort than a great keyboard?
The netbooks lid features a high reflective surface, and the inside manages to look upscale metallic even though its actually plastic. You could look sharp pulling out the IdeaPad at a sales meeting.
Obviously targeting the professional user, the IdeaPad bundles a futuristic security tool. Using the VeriFace facial recognition security app, you can scan your face, then log in using the Webcam. (Cool, but wouldnt you rather just type your password?)
Still more for the business user: The unit also comes with OneKey Recovery, which creates a disk image to restore your files in case of terrible mishap; and DirectShare, which lets your swap files with co-workers across your network.
Other than that, the Lenovo IdeaPad pretty much just keeps up with the pack. It has the 1.66-GHz Intel Atom N450, 1GB RAM, 160 GB hard drive, a 10.1-inch screen with standard 1024 x 600 resolution, 3 USB ports, 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth, 3G, a battery good for about 7 hours, and Windows Starter OS. One truly nice touch: Dolby-powered speakers, clearly a step above the netbook standard.
Also note: the Ideapad S10-3t, which starts at $549, has a swiveling touch screen; its essentially an iPad competitor.
Bottom line: Priced in about the middle of the pack, a comfortable netbook that offers an easy transition from a full-size unit.
The Lenovo Ideapad netbook (photo courtesy Lenovo)