Now that the home entertainment market has moved towards streaming video services and Blu-ray content, there has never been a better time to convert DVD collections to digital.
LG W1 Pro Express Dual
- Excellent screen, digital TV-tuner, number pad, Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz CPU, 2GB RAM
- Battery life, poor speakers , encoding test results.
The LG W1 Pro Express Dual was let down by its speakers, encoding abilities and battery life, but the TV-tuner, number pad and the excellent screen are draw cards worth noting. Overall it's a strong machine, both structurally and component-wise.
Price$ 3,299.00 (AUD)
The W1 Pro Express Dual Mobile Entertainer from LG is a sleek notebook PC with reasonable media centre functionality and plenty of power, but falls down in some areas.
The unit uses an Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 2.0GHz CPU, 2GB of DDR2 667MHz RAM and an ATI Radeon Mobility X1600 graphics card making it ideal for the Windows Vista environment. The hardware allows the installed Windows Vista Home Premium edition (32-bit version) to run the new Aero interface, which gives Vista its fluid appearance.
The 17in widescreen LCD is sturdy and produces a very crisp image with good colours, brightness and contrast at a maximum resolution of 1680x1050. It has wider viewing angles than most notebooks we've seen and can be seen clearly at strong off-centre positions. As a media centre, the screen is ideal for watching movies, but the poor quality of the built-in speakers mean that some desktop speakers or a set of headphones may be required. While the speakers aren't as bad as a lot of notebooks, the hollow, tinny sound just didn't do justice to any of the media we played. Alone, their volume was not up to scratch, but turning on the Dolby Virtual speaker, which claims to produce a convincing 5.1 channel surround sound from just two speakers, increased the volume and sound-stage significantly, but was far from surround sound.
Despite the size of the display, the overall unit weight (3.1kgs) is quite manageable. However the form factor, including a full size keyboard with a number pad and the installed TV-tuner suggest that this unit might be best plugged into a wall. We tested the battery by looping a DVD. This test is considered a worst-case scenario as the speakers and optical drive are in operation as well as all other core components. The LG W1 Pro Express Dual only managed to hold off for one hour 34 minutes before shutting down, not quite enough to finish an average feature film. This further places the W1 Pro Express Dual as more of a portable desktop replacement than a mobile computer. Using the notebookd for regular productivity will last considerably longer, and should suffice over reasonable periods away from a power source.
We connected an aerial cable to the built-in digital TV-tuner and set Windows Media Center to the task of scanning for channels. The W1 Pro Express Dual managed to pick up all of the expected channels and was able to play the majority of HD and digital channels without problems. It also comes with a Windows Media Center remote with an in-built receiver, a nice addition.
A 120GB hard drive is included, which is enough storage for a good number of recorded TV shows, photos and music but heavy multimedia users may want to consider an upgrade. There is also a 5-in-1 media card reader supporting xD, SD, MMC, MS, MS Pro and CF Type 1 media cards, for easy photo transfers.
We ran an encoding test to see how well this machine could encode WAV files to 192Kbps MP3 files. Using CDEX encoder, a freely available application, the W1 Pro Express Dual managed to encode 53minutes of WAV files in two minutes and 39 seconds. This is not a great result, as we expected more from a system with a 2.0GHz Core 2 Duo and 2GB of RAM, but will still work fine for casual encoding.
The Radeon Mobility X1600 does a good job of fulfilling the needs of Windows Vista's Aero interface and even managed to play some of the latest games in low settings. A Score of 15247 in 3DMark 2001 SE suggests that this system will handle older games without flinching.
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g is available, as is Bluetooth 2.0, Gigabit LAN and a 56k modem for networking. There's also a PC card slot, type II, FireWire, 4xUSB 2.0 ports, an S-Video and VGA port, as well as a parallel port for older devices.
FW: The LG W1 Pro Express Dual was let down by its speakers, encoding abilities and battery life, but the TV-tuner, number pad and the excellent screen are draw cards worth noting. Overall it's a strong machine, both structurally and component-wise.
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