Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
LG R200-R (CB50A)
- SideShow device, fan control
- Screen quality
We don't feel that SideShow is the be all and end all of what this LG R200 has to offer, but it is a handy device if you set it up well. Beyond that the R200 is an incredibly portable unit with good battery life and enough grunt to get you by.
Price$ 2,699.00 (AUD)
Stylish and sleek, the new LG R200 is one of the few notebooks about that has a SideShow device built in. Perfect for business users, but also useful for everyday and entertainment purposes, this 12.1in notebook PC is portable and has some reasonable power under the hood, at least for its size, and the SideShow feature gives it some added functionality.
SideShow is a Windows Vista application that allows Windows functions, like checking e-mail, viewing photos and listening to music, to be temporarily handled by an external device, and is most useful for notebooks when the lid is closed. As with the ASUS W5FE (2P002A), the LG R200 utilises a device built into the lid, but it's only visible as a small 2.5in (320x240) screen with a set of basic controls.
SideShow works much like the Gadget bar in Vista, utilising downloadable plug-ins to access Windows functionality. The device synchronises with Windows media player to access music and can also synchronise with Outlook, Gmail or Yahoo! Mail services among other capabilities. The device itself does not access the hard drive directly to play music and such; rather it is similar to a portable media player, using its own flash memory to store data.
It must be awake to synchronise data, so you'll need to set everything up on it that you want before you close the lid, and there's only 1GB of flash memory, so be sparing with what you dump on there. Fortunately, for important functions like e-mail, the device can momentarily wake the notebook to retrieve updates, then put it back to sleep. In this respect it's very handy for keeping track of your in-box or schedule while in a meeting or sitting on public transport.
At the helm of this unit is an Intel Core 2 Duo T7500 2.2GHz CPU with an 800MHz front side bus and a 4MB L2 cache. Also installed is 1GB of DDR2 667MHz RAM, plus 1GB of Intel Turbo Memory, a flash memory module that helps speed up Windows by caching regularly accessed data. Only a basic ATI Radeon HD2300 graphics card is installed.
The R200 includes some interesting software with associated keyboard hotkeys. This software allows you to set a couple of programmable shortcuts, change the wireless networking options and disable the keyboard or touchpad, but also allows you to set the fan speed to normal, silent or cool modes. Quiet mode can be useful on a plane or in a shared environment late at night, while cool mode is particularly good when working with the computer on your lap for extended periods, or when using high performance applications.
In our benchmarks we saw reasonable results. We weren't able to run WorldBench 6 due to an incompatibility issue with the software, but the MP3 encoding tests show that the CPU is powerful enough for average day-to-day tasks and maybe a little more. Using iTunes to convert 53 minutes of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3 files took 94 seconds, while in Cdex (which uses only one of the two cores) it took 124 seconds.
The battery test showed above average results. Looping a DVD movie, which employs the speakers and optical drive, as well as the normal components, drained the battery in 102 minutes. The speakers aren't all that powerful, so if you do intend to watch a movie you may wish to opt for some headphones. The system does have SRS virtual surround sound, which helps a little. One disappointment is the screen, which has a fairly poor viewing angle and is quite reflective in bright lights.
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