LG C1-TB10A Express Dual
- Tablet/notebook hybrid, Touch screen technology that does not require a digitised pen, lightweight, Viewing angle of screen
With its ultra low voltage CPU the C1 Express Dual offers little in the way of power, but is extremely portable with some good hybrid notebook and tablet features.
Price$ 3,199.00 (AUD)
If you want a small and lightweight notebook with some Tablet PC functionality, the LG C1 Express Dual (C1-TB10A) weighs only 1.3kg without its power supply, and offers a comfortable Tablet PC experience. Through its range of quick access hotkeys and software shortcuts, as well as a fairly cool operating temperature it's pleasant to use in tablet mode, but also functions like a notebook when needed. It lacks power and doesn't come cheap, but that's the price you pay for such a small, portable device.
LG is marketing this unit as a notebook, not a Tablet PC, which is partly defined by the use of touch screen technology, rather than the digitised pen used in Tablet PCs. This means you can actually put your fingernail to the screen and select objects and icons or write without the pen. We did find that using the pen was easier, but it's important to note that it isn't necessary for many tasks.
Unlike the HP Pavilion tx1001, which uses similar technology and has been marketed with the same hybrid usage in mind, the LG C1 Express Dual feels more like a tablet than a notebook. Simply by its size, design and functionality, one would guess it to be a Tablet PC. Its layout is heavily geared towards tablet use, though that doesn't detract from using it as a notebook.
The keyboard, though small, is comfortable to type on and the touchpad is responsive and smooth. The screen rotates in just one direction and folds down over the keyboard, using the resistance of the hinges to hold it in place, rather than a clip or latch. It's a fairly ambidextrous device. The most natural portrait orientation for right handed people places the battery as a grip in your left hand with a set of hotkeys at the bottom left edge of the unit. Using this orientation also places headphone and microphone ports at the top edge with the volume/mute control, a USB and network ports at the top. The reverse, for left handed people, isn't all that different, and should be fairly comfortable to use as well.
The hotkeys include an escape key, an enter key and a pair of directional arrows. The last key is a function shortcut (FN), similar to the Fn key found on most notebook keyboards (including this one). This button, when pressed first, changes the function of the other hotkeys. Escape becomes screen rotate, the directional buttons are used to sleep the system or summon a Windows handwriting recognition pad, while the enter key becomes a notepad, for freestyle handwriting of notes. The FN button also changes its own function, opening a menu with further options when pressed twice. These options include brightness, networking and power options.
To replicate a ctrl+alt+del in tablet mode and small hole has been placed in the bezel where the pen can be inserted. The hole resides beside a set of indicator lights for hard drive activity and such. Another good aspect of this notebook is the screen. While it only offers a 1280 x 760 resolution, which is fairly standard for notebooks of this size, it has a very good viewing angle. This makes it considerably easier to view when using it in tablet mode where it can be tilted in any number of directions.
The touch screen technology works reasonably well; it's easy enough to write on, though a little extra pressure must be applied to maintain a response from the screen's sensor. The only real problem we had with it was the accuracy of a single click. It is necessary to tap the screen slightly off-centre to the object you are hoping to select. It's something you can adapt to, but irritating nonetheless. Holding the pen to the screen for a few seconds initiates a right-click, but tapping the screen once also places a small image of a mouse on-screen, allowing you to select a left or right-click action.
The C1 Express Dual runs Windows Vista Business edition and is powered by one of Intel's dual core ultra low voltage CPUs, the Core Duo U2500 1.2GHz CPU. Also jammed inside the small package is 1GB of DDR2 RAM running at 533MHz, a Geforce Go 7300 graphics chip and an 80GB PATA hard drive. While no internal optical drive is installed, a sleek, matching dual layer DVD re-writer is part of the sales package. This device adds another 350 grams or so to the total weight and connects via a USB cable, which also powers the drive.
In our tests this notebook/tablet scored fairly poorly, though little is to be expected from an ultra low voltage CPU. In WorldBench 6 it scored a lowly 46, which shows it's not going to handle much in the way of taxing applications. We also ran it through a DVD rundown battery test, where we loop a DVD until the battery drains completely. This is a worst case scenario test as the speakers and the optical drive (in this case the external USB powered drive) are in use as well as the core components. The C1 Express Dual lasted just 60 minutes in this test, a considerably shorter time than most notebooks, though it is likely to last longer under normal business circumstances.
As well as a 56k modem, the C1 Express Dual offers a gigabit Ethernet connection, Bluetooth 2.0 and Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g. A VGA port is available and a total of three USB 2.0 ports are installed. One PC Card slot is available and a 5-in-1 media card reader is also included, supporting xD, MMC, SD, MS and MS-Pro cards.
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