Review: Lenovo IdeaPad S205

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Review: Lenovo IdeaPad S205

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.

Lenovo ideapad s205

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.

Basic performance

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.

TechRadar Labs

Tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 182 minutes
Cinebench: 2193
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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Review: Alienware M18X

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Review: Alienware M18X

The latest release from Dell-owned Alienware, the M18X, is a behemoth with enough power to run any game under the sun without so much as a flicker. But you’ll have to have deep pockets to get your hands on one.

Even getting the M18X out of the box is a challenge, thanks to its 438 x 311 x 52mm dimensions and a back-breaking weight of 5.7kg. This machine was designed to dominate your desk. As expected, it sticks to the Alienware design, which we love, but probably won’t be to everyone’s taste.

The entire machine is a slab of moulded rubber and brushed metal, and that ever-present Tron-style neon backlight.

Unsurprisingly, the focus of the Alienware is gaming. Our review sample came with an AMD Radeon HD 6900M and scored a mind-blowing 19,056 during our intensive gaming benchmark test.

While the sheer power of the machine keeps games running perfectly, it is the 18.4-inch screen that made playing on the M18X a truly immersive experience. The Super-TFT screen is like a window into your games. It’s extremely bright and the 1920 x 1080-pixel resolution keeps the most complex graphics razor sharp.

But it’s the sheer size that is the winner here and you really notice the difference between this and a standard 15.6-inch machine.

Mixed keyboard

Alienware m18x

Although we like the keyboard on the M18x, there is a degree of flexing towards the centre and some might not appreciate the tightly packed keys, but the customisable backlight looks great.

As any gamer knows, you’re going to want a mouse, game controller, joystick, or any number of other peripherals to get the best from your laptop. So Alienware has gone big on connectivity. There are five USB ports, upgradable to USB 3.0 if you want, along with an Ethernet port, eSata port, VGA Out and audio jacks for your headset and microphone. On top of that, you get two HDMI ports for connecting extra monitors or an HDTV.

Despite our praise, the M18x is not without its faults. At 87 minutes, the battery life is woeful. The charger, like the laptop itself, is huge, and you certainly won’t be leaving the house without it.

The other problem with the M18x is that to play big, you have to spend big and, being custom-built, it costs a small fortune to get the best spec. Every model runs on a Sandy Bridge Core i7 processor, but there are different variants available.

Alienware

Our review sample was powerful, but other laptop components such as RAM and storage space were poor. This was disappointing and, although you can customise the amount of storage, we would expect more than 250GB and 4GB of RAM for £1699.

TechRadar Labs

Benchmarks

Battery Eater ’05: 87 minutes
Cinebench: 16967
3DMark 2006: 19056

Essentially, if you’re not a hardcore gamer, there is no reason to spend this kind of money. But if you want the best mobile gaming experience around, this is what you should be looking at.

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