Sunday, August 16, 2009

LG X110 Netbook Review

When I first saw them netbooks in the shops, I thought they were pretty neat. I already have a laptop so I don't need one, I said to myself. However, a few months later, I got myself a job on the other side of the island, requiring me to commute about 1.5 hours every morning to get to work and then back home again in the evening. Commuting can be a waste of time if you do nothing during your train/bus ride so getting a netbook would be beneficial. As a result, I decided to look for a netbook which would suit my purpose.

My criteria for a netbook was that (not in any particular order):

i) It is light and small, not taking too much space in my sling bag.
ii) It is cheap. Prices of netbooks have been dropping every quarter and better ones are constantly coming out at a cheaper price so not much point getting a high-end netbook. Lastly, I'm poor ^^;
iii) It has a reasonable battery life. I'll be using the netbook solely for commuting so it should last at least 2-3 hours.
iv) It must work with my Huawei E1550 USB mobile broadband.

From the criteria above, I started to look around for the right netbook. I checked out the prices in the shops (Harvey Norman, Courts, Best Denki etc.) and read 1000s of user reviews from the web. I wasn't too much worried about the performance of the netbooks since all of them ran on the Atom processor. Getting a 2GB or 1GB RAM wasn't too important either since as I said earlier, technology moves really fast and better netbooks will continue to come out. I doubt I'll be using the same netbook for more than 4-5 years.

Here are a few netbooks I looked at (cost WAS one of the main criterias):
Toshiba NB200- looks good but expensive.
Samsung NC10,20,30- looks and feels good but expensive.
Asus EeePC family- nice keyboad, looks really good but a bit on the costly side.
Sony Vaio- wayyyyyy too expensive to even consider.
Dell Mini10- more expensive than I thought.
Lenovo S10- looks ok, hinge abit ugly with battery sticking out but not too expensive.
Acer Aspire One- cheap but the buttons on the touchpad sucks.
Axioo Pico- cheapest, Singaporean-built, heavy.
MSI Wind- good reviews, heavy.
BenQ Joybook Lite- looks good, a bit expensive, not much reviews.
HP Mininote 1000- don't like the touchpad buttons.

Anyway, in the end I decided to go for a black LG X110.Bought for SGD 599.00 at Harvey Norman Jurong Point (20th July 2009) with a free mouse (I have no use for it), and LG netbook sleeve (very nice).

LG X110-L.A7B1A3 (non-3G)
Hard disk: 160GB
Weight: 1.19kg with 3-cell battery. About 1.30kg with 6-cell battery.
Processor: Intel ATOM N270 1.6GHz
Screen: 10" (matt)
OS: Windows XP Home edition
Keyboard: 93% of a normal size keyboard.
Multi-card reader, 1.3 Mega pixels Smart Cam, 3 USB ports.

The 3G version is sold for about SGD200 more (I think). Since I already have the Huawei USB dongle, I don't need to spend more for a built-in 3G modem. The LG X110 is basically a remodel of the MSI Wind netbook- same functions and specs but lighter and better looking:p Since the MSI Wind received a good review, LG X110 should be just as good or better.

I should've waited for 1 more week coz there was a road show at Funan selling the LG X110 for SGD550! And now Harvey Norman is selling it at SGD599 with a free DVD drive! Oh well, no point crying over it- price will continue to drop but there must be a limit to how low the price can go down to since the manufacturers have to pay for the raw materials which make the netbook.

Ok, enough on the chit chat, here are some real data on the LG X110 netbook.

Battery life:
Using BattStat, the battery life is about 5.45 hours at 100% with the lowest power settings. However, if the 3G USB modem is plugged-in the battery life drops to about 3.45 hours at 100% (lowest power). This is more than enough for me. I leave the adapter at home for the day and charge the netbook when I return at night.

Boot and shutdown time:
Boot time is measured by how long the netbook takes to start-up from me pressing the power button till Windows is fully loaded. The boot time for the LG X110 running on Windows XP Home Edition is about 50 seconds (I've already turned-off the non-essential applications and other small bits and pieces). It takes about 11 seconds for the netbook to get to the Windows boot screen. The shutdown time is about 13 seconds. It takes about 5 seconds to get everything up from sleep. I haven't tried hibernation yet.

The netbook doesn't suffer from any overheating problem and the fan isn't loud. The screen is really nice and clear (full brightness). Typing and the touchpad is easy to use.

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The LG X110 netbook suffers from the same problem as the NDS lite; the smooth shiny black surface is a fingerprint magnet (that's why I left the clear plastic protector on the lid of the netbook). Talking about NDS, I really hope that the hinges of the netbook aren't going to crack. The hinges look much nicer than the other netbooks since they don't stick out but will they be strong enough to withstand the frequent 'closing and shutting' of the lid?

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LG advertises the X110 as 1.19kg. This is definitely the weight with a 3-cell battery and from what I see on the net, it is amongst the lighter netbooks. On some website, I read that the weight with a 6-cell battery is about 1.3kg. Haven't tested that out myself (I guess the only way to find out is to bring my netbook to the supermarket and get it weighed at the fruits and vegetables section).
EDIT: I went to the post office and got it weighed. The weight is 1.33 kg with the 6-cell battery.

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I usually use the LG X110 on the MRT while seated so I'll have it on my lap and sometimes I'll type with my right hand. The keys are large enough and don't cause any problems.

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The metallic vents on the side work well and the netbook doesn't heat up to a crazy temperature. The 6-cell battery doesn't stick out from the back nor the sides. It only gives the netbook a slight incline (6-7 mm) when placed on a table. I wonder what will be the 'life' of the battery- 'life' meaning how many recharge cycles it will last before dying. I hope that it'll last more than 3 years coz I doubt it'll be worth buying another battery- I'll just get a new netbook.

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