Some relatively better shot photos to start with ( sneaked from NBRs sister site, TabletPCReview.com)
The quest for a small and powerful laptop is an elusive one.
Powerful laptops like the XPS M1710 IMHO cease to be laptops while the really small and light ones are seriously strapped for power with a puny core solo or similar.
The LG C1, from that POV is a rare find. It is perhaps one of the smallest form factor laptops around. Yet with a dedicated graphics chip and a Ultra low Voltage Yonah processor isn't really a puny excuse for a computer either.
Specs and Cost of Reviewed System
- Intel Core Duo U2500 (Ultra Low Voltage Core Duo)
- 1GB Dual Shared Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz (2 Dimms)
- 80 GB 1.8" HD
- Nvidia GeForce Go 7300
- Intel Pro/Wireless 3945a/g
- Bluetooth module
- 10.6" WXGA Display with Touchscreen and swivel base (1280x768)
- 8x CD/DVD Burner External
- 10.6" x 8" x 1.06" and weighs a mere 1.2 Kg
This is a fairly expensive notebook, but the cost is justified by the performance capabilities of the immensely tiny package.
Build & Design
The Piano Black finish with a 1 inch thick casing gives the notebook a very sleek & elegant look & feel.
The build quality, which is a very important parameter for any notebook buyer, especially portable notebook buyers is as good as would be expected from a machine at this price.
The casing (which I am not sure what material it is made of) feels extremely sturdy and shows no sign of any flex at all in any area.
LG seems to have done a good job with the choice of materials and the machinen feels solid all around.
As with all tablets, the weakest (apparently) area seems to be the solitary rotating hinge.
The machine has an extremely thin profile and I really cannot find fault with the design except a few nitpicks
- Piano black finish is fingerprint magnet. Check the package contents picture to see for yourself how it looks after picking it up 2-3 times
- The LCD bezel houses the HDD, wirelesss, Num Lock and Caps lock lights on the left side. I am used to it now but the flashing hdd light can be a bother to start with
Left view of LG C1
Right view of LG C1
Back side view of LG C1
Next to a regular sized magazine
Next to an XPS M1210
The screen, a 1280x768 resolution widescreen, was another area of concern for me.
I am very very finicky when it comes to screens and even the slightest amount of backlight bleed or non-uniformity in lighting bothers me no end.
Technical details on this screen seem to be hard to find, but given the extremely uniform backlight and the ultra slim top panel profile, I suspect this means uses LED backlighting but cannot say for sure.
Some online reviews complain of graininess on the screen (due to the touch panel overlay) but I could not notice any.
the horizontal as well as vertical angles are as good as I have seen on any laptop.
The colors are thoroughly vibrat.
The screen truly leaves me with no reason to complain.
For some, the glossy screen can make viewing difficult in direct sunlight, and even in lower light conditions you may notice reflections. However, glossy screens rule the consumer laptop segment and I am not complaining.
The speakers are oddly enough placed on the bottom, presumably to save space, as real estate is really in short supply on this tiny machine.
Expectedly, the speakers are tinny with very little bass.
The hardware based XT surround Does a fairly decent job though and the speakers can perform upto taks for watching a quick movie or two.
Using a regular Core Duo and Core 2 Duo based setups (T2400 and T5500), I had expected the ULV 2500 to be sluggish but was pleasently surprised to see that is not the case. I am a habitual multi-tasker, and the system never feels sluggish.
This is perhaps due to the fact I am running XP on a 1 GB setup. I am not planning Vista on this machine for two reasons,
1) I am not a big Vista fan and still prefer the cleaner, non garish looks of XP
2) The system currently 2X 512 sticks, 1 a SO DIMM (Regular Laptop RAM), the other a micro DIMM
Unfortunately, micro DIMM 1 GB sticks are hard to find and prohibitively expensive ($ 250 US +) and I am not sure if Vista will behave well even if I replace the regular SO DIMM 512 with a 1 GB to take the total to 1.5 GB
SuperPi measures CPU performance by calculating Pi to a specific number of digits.
Notebook Time to Calculate Pi to 2 Million Digits
- Dell XPS M1210 (Intel Core 2 Duo 2.00GHz) 1m 02s
- Dell XPS M1210 (Intel Core 2 Duo 2.00GHz) while running McAfee Virus 1m 06s
- Dell Latitude D620 (Intel Core Duo T2400 1.83 GHz) 1m 21s
- Dell Latitude D610 (Intel Pentium M 750 1.83GHz) 1m 41s
- Dell Inspiron e1505 (2.0GHz Core Duo) 1m 16s
- Fujitsu LifeBook N3510 (1.73 GHz Alviso Pentium M) 1m 48s
- Asus A8JP (Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz) 1m 02s
- Dell Inspiron 6000D (1.6 GHz Alviso Pentium M) 1m 52s
- Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo) 1m 18s
- LG C1 U2500 1.2 Ghz 1m 47s
the 1.8" Toshiba HDD isn't a scorching performer but ain't too bad either
A Go7300 with a 1.2 Ghz Core Duo doesn't sound like much, and it really isn't
It still is heads and shoulders above the regular GMA950s and I am still amazed as to how did LG manage to cram in a dedicated GPU into something this small
The only game I have tried so far is GTA San Andreas
The game is capped at 25 fps and the game indeed ran at the capped 25 fps till 1024X768 and high detail settings (No AA)
At 1280X768 (native resolution of the LCD), the framerate dropped to 18-19 at some places
Next I removed the frame rate cap from the game console and this time, the frame rates hovered around the 40 mark at 800X600, 30-35 at 1024 X768 and 18-27 at 1280X768
Just for the heck of it, I installed coolbits and set the nVidia system properties for detecting an optimal overclock
The auto generated OC was 476 mhz (from default 350) for the GPU and 952 mhz for the memory (from default 700) ..a massive 36% :O
GTA SA at this OC ran butter smooth at native 1280X768 and high details
For those who are interested, here is the 3dmark05 lineup
3DMark05 tests a PC for graphics capabilities:
Notebook 3DMark05 Score
- Dell XPS M1210 (Intel Core 2 Duo 2.00GHz, Nvidia Go 7400) 2,082 3DMarks
- Dell XPS M1210 (Intel Core 2 Duo 2.00GHz, Nvidia Go 7400) while running McAfee Virus 2,069 3DMarks
- Dell XPS M1710 (2.16 GHz Core Duo, nVidia 7900 GTX 512MB) 8,524 3DMarks
- Asus V6J (2.16GHz Core 2 Duo, nVidia GeForce Go 7400) 2,918 3DMarks
- Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60 Nvidia GeForce Go7800 GTX) 7,078 3DMarks
- HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T7400, nVidia GeForce Go 7400) 2,013 3DMarks
- LG C1 ULV U2500 1.2 Ghz 1635 3DMarks
Heat and Noise
For its size, the LG C1 has fairly powerful components in a very small space, but there really isn't any noise (It doesn't have an internal optical drive, remember ) and runs fairly cool.
The OCed GPU touched a max of 65C (so far)
The CPU temps hover between 35-47 C depending on the load.
The vents on the left side can get quite warm when the graphics card or CPU is working hard but the bottom stays cool throughout.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard on the M1210 is surprisingly a full-sized keyboard and the keys have a good feel to them.
The way LG managed to cram in a full sized keyboard was by chopping away the width of the side keys.
Thus even though the qwerty keys and the alphabet rows are full sized, the less oft used keys on both the right and left hand sides (bksp, Caps lock, enter etc.) have been chopped from the sides
For those interested in more details, The size comparison photo with the XPS 1210 (which has a regular full sized KB) will be of use.
The keys have a short throw and the tactile reponse is decent. There is no learning curve or getting used to period involved and I could type at my regular rates on this system almost immediately from the first use.
The touchpad (thankfully) is Synaptics (And not Alps which I thoroughly detest) and is as good as touchpads get
The touchpad keys are a tad too small though and people with fat fingers will have a hard time on right clicks.
First the good bit, the small size , the ligh weight and the powerful performance make this system a very handy tablet. I did not buy this system with the intention of using it as one, but keep finding myself using the system as a table quite often for some passive browsing or reading PDFs/Docs
Now the bad bit, the screen on flip does not change its orientation automatically.
You need to press a Fn key + rotation combination to do that.
The Fn key as well as a few other hot key combinations are however available for usage with the screen flipped and allow you to scroll, hit enter and gain access to some often used applications.
The handwriting recognition is decent but I personally prefer the tap keyboard when in tablet mode.
The screen requires a slighly tight press from the stylus in comparison to PDA styluses but that is presumably due to the fact that unlike a PDA, your palm may need to rest on the screen while using the upper corners of the screen and too sensitive a screen wuld create problems in such scenarios.
Personally, I feel tablet usage makes sense while doing passive reading/browsing or when minimal keyboard usage is required since the OSK or the handwriting recognizer cannot come close to the effectiveness of a keyboard.
NHC shows a drain of 8.5-11W on 70% backlight and regular usage with wi-fi on and browsing.
Thus the 3 cell battery lasts 2-2.5 hrs wile the bigger 6 cell (53 whr IIRC) should give 4.5- 5 Hours at this rate.
OS and software
This notebook came with Windows XP Tablet PC edition with an option for express upgrade to Windows Vista.
I haven't as yet sent out the express upgrade for to LG though and I don't intend to either.
Surprisingly (And thankfully, there was nearly no bloatware on the system) but just a couple of LG utilities (hot key support, Connection manager etc.)
Except the connection manager, which I found thoroughly useless and uninstalled, there was no other cleaning up I had to do.
Service and Support
LG claims a Next business day On location support (LG notebook there service is outsourced to Wipro peripherals like Dell) and though I haven't had a need to to use that (hopefully not), I have had a pleasent experience with Wipro when their service engineer came over to fix my XPS M1210s whining noise last year
The website based support however is terrible and pathtic to say the least.
The LG support site is chaotic and messy and God Forbid if you ever need to find updated drivers for the setup.
When it comes to laptops, I am a very demanding customer.
I can get extremely nitpicky about tiny details. (If in doubt, check my previous review on the Sony Vaio C22 here
This time around though, I am pleased to say that this tiny rig lives upto the stated promise.
It is a beautiful rig, packs a punch for its size, and needless to say, is extremely tiny and light.
I never thought I would use it as a tablet but of late, I have fallen into the habit of fipping the screen around and using it as a tablet while lying down on bed.
It delivers in every way and apart from the lack of an expresscard slot and the fact that the tablet could use an active input, there isn't anything I can complain about at all
- Fast performance for the size
- Applause for LG for putting a deciated GPU on this tiny a rig
- Ultra Compact size
- Decent battery life
- Solid build
- Extremely light
- Probably the sleekest External ODD I have seen with a laptop
- Tinny speakers
- Lid collects fingerprints
- No Expressccard slot
- Single RAM SO DIMM slot, the second slot is a micro DIMM
- Terrible support site