It has been some time since we had the pleasure of reviewing a Tablet PC. In fact looking at the functionality and convenience that tablets offer, it makes us wonder why manufacturers keep ignoring this segment of mobile computing. Very few manufacturers tend to release products in this range in India and when they do... the machines end up being sub-par and extremely expensive to boot.
LG recently released their Xnote C1 tablet. Is it able to escape the problems that have plagued other players in this segment? Read on to find out...
LG as a brand-name is far better known in India for their white good products. Though they have marketed and released laptops in India earlier too, they have not been able to achieve any kind of success in this sphere. Hence coming into this review, I was a little bit curious and wary on the looks and performance of this new product.
Well my fears on the looks of the product were laid to rest quite quickly. The X1 is a 10.6 inch tablet and is surprisingly small and light. LG has opted to go with a plain white-black color combination for the Xnote. There is a strange color variation here though. The top lid of the tablet is piano-black with a smooth finish, while the area around the LCD Panel is a lighter matte finish and the keyboard area is plain glossy white. The whole effect gives the tablet a rather sober look and actually demeans the laptop - making it look less expensive than it is actually worth. Another irritating note here is that the top lid is a fingerprint magnet. Every little thumbprint shows up glaringly. In its defense however, LG has provided a cloth to clean the laptop. While this does solve the problem somewhat, a better selection of paint and a less reflective surface (like HP’s DV2000 series) would have been more appropriate. However once you get past this problem, the LG shines. The construction material used for the tablet is very sturdy. The hinges of the tablet are well secured and despite being flexed in every possible direction was free moving and without squeaks.__PAGEBREAK__
The keyboard of the tablet was one of the many surprises that we found in this product. Unlike standard keyboards offered on tablets of this size, the X1’s has surprisingly large keys, excellent placement and great tactile feedback. The normal cramping that one faces when typing on a tablet’s keyboard, was thankfully and conspicuously absent. In a similar vein the touchpad too was top-notch. It offers very good traction and a pair of surprisingly firm mouse keys.
The LCD panel on the C1 is a 10.6” affair with a native widescreen resolution of 1280x768. This is a good resolution as it offers a decent amount of screen space to work with. One interesting point to note here is that unlike the ultra-bright screens that normal ultra-portables offer, the screen on the C1 is quite diffused and has very average color/contrast levels. I don’t know if this is due to the fact that it’s a touch screen but it’s definitely a cause for concern. When you are using it as a tablet, even at maximum brightness reading the screen can sometimes get tricky and one has to strain their eyes. The screen unlike other manufacturers does not offer a very precise degree of control. The stylus of the C1 is stored on the left side of the screen. It has a pop-up action that slides it out of the holder.
Connectivity wise the tablet is quite loaded. It offers 3 USB slots, 1 VGA slot, 1 Microphone/Headphone slot and a 5 in 1 card reader. In a surprising move, it also offers an SRS HD slider, which enables the laptop to output simulated surround sound for headphone/speaker use. In terms of wireless connectivity the laptop offers 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The tablet due to its nature does not offer an integrated ODD. LG instead offers a very sleek and compact external DVD-RAM drive.__PAGEBREAK__
The LG C1 is built on the now aging Intel Core Duo platform. It utilises a low-voltage U2500 processor which is clocked at 1.2 GHz, comes with an Nvidia 7300 graphics chipset, has 1 GB of system RAM and an 80 GB HDD. These specifications may seem ancient by comparison to other laptops but please remember, this is a tablet and serves a different master. The processor is a very good choice as it is very power efficient and still offers the performance of a mid-level performer. The only thing I have against it is the 1 GB of RAM and paltry 80 GB of space. The reason for this is Windows Vista. Vista is pretty resource hungry and requires at least 2 GB of system memory if one wants to multi-task with a reasonable degree of comfort.
For evaluating the performance of this tablet, we have divided our results into four sections. The first two sections are strictly synthetic tests i.e. PCmark 05 and 3DMark 06, the next test was battery life under real life conditions and finally a strict user based evaluation how usable the tablet is actually.
The results? Extremely good... PCmark05 gave us an average score of 2453. Here I ran into a problem... i.e. I had no actual real test score of a previous product to compare this to. To overcome this problem I simply referred the online ORB database, which has a listing of comparative scores of other products. The result was quite surprising. The score of the C1 was quite a bit on the higher side as compared to similar tablets. The 3dMark06 score of 741 in the same vein was also very impressive. In fact the C1 was among the only notebooks, to even have a 3d solution like the Nvidia 7300. Most tablets with similar configurations use the Intel GMA 950 chipset. When you add these things... the general performance of the C1 are pretty good as compared to the competition such as Toshiba and others.__PAGEBREAK__
The battery life tests in comparison were quite ok. LG provides a 3 cell battery and a 6 cell battery as part of the sales package. We tested both batteries and the results were strictly satisfactory. The 3 cell battery under normal use, was able to deliver rough usage time of 1 hr 42 minutes. The 6 cell battery delivered a little over 3 ½ hrs. These are very average numbers.
Our final test was the most crucial of them all. This was conducted over a period of a few days by utilising the tablet’s various features. The result we got was quite good. The tablet overall is quite responsive and thanks to Windows Vista’s excellent optimisation offers a very good experience. Jotting down on the tablet is an effortless task and its handwriting recognition is top-notch. Another thing that adds to the appeal of the tablet is the fact that it’s incredibly lightweight. This reduces user fatigue and allows for hours of work to be done without interruption. The only thing that I found annoying initially was the stylus. It is rather poorly designed and has a steep user-learning curve. It took nearly 2 hours of fiddling before I got the hang of it and was able to start using it in a comfortable manner.
The LG C1 tablet is a mixed bag. On one hand it offers good performance, is lightweight and compact and is fairly easy to use. On the other hand, the C1 is extremely expensive at its cost of Rs. 1 Lakh, has average battery life and its stylus is designed to discourage novice users. Taking all these factors into account we rate this product as barely recommended. It makes this cut solely based on the fact that it is one of the very few decent tablets that are currently available in India.
more in Biztech