LG’s first hybrid tablet laptop in Australia reviewed

Built around the concept of a tablet with a screen that springs to life and in position, LG’s Tab-book Z160 only had one real competitor with a similar design, and we’ve already mentioned it in the review: the Sony VAIO Duo 11.

Both of these machines are built around the idea that the screen can lie flat and be pulled up sit at an angle against the keyboard, essentially making the hybrid tablet easier to use, and not requiring the extra keyboard section to be left somewhere, a problem inherent in the transforming design used by competitors.

To spring the screen up, press the button on the side.

In the LG machine, the screen has been designed to automatically slide itself into position when you press a button on the side, the tablet screen being released from some catches and sliding to reach an angle that make it more like a laptop, and yet not quite.

This forty degree angle might not be to everyone’s liking, but overall, it provides a bright screen with a good viewing angle for anything you need to do, and even makes it possible to write in cramped spaces, as you don’t need the full view needed with a clamshell laptop.

Close it and the LG Tab-book is all tablet, albeit a slightly thicker one, likely due to the hardware inside.

When the button is pressed, the screen will detach from the lock mechanism underneath it, and slide into position.

From a design point of view, it’s clear LG is going with the whole “less is more” philosophy, with a simple white back, a screen on top, and what appears to be a magnesium shell on the inside, giving a sturdy feeling at least in the overall heft this machine has.

Outside of the inside design, LG has gone with plastic, which can lessen the experience, though not enough to put you off upon first glance.

In the performance area, some applications might not feel as super-spesh as they would on other machines, what with only 4GB of RAM here, but most of what you throw at it should be okay.

Intel’s third-generation Core processor is here, and is probably among the last of the new machines that will sport them, but it should suffice for most of what you need it for.

Our tests mainly sat around the typically Ultrabook test scenario of writing, surfing, and checking out material online, while we did our regular thing of working both on buses around the city, at home, and at work.

For the most part, we had no problems with performance here, and while the system could take a second or two to jump between programs, it was otherwise acceptable.

Switching the system on yielded the typical slew of great speeds, with being switched on from cold off taking between six and eight seconds, while on from standby was Windows 8’s typical one to two seconds. Not bad at all, and that should satisfy most out there.

There are certainly enough ports here for most, and we’re fans of a USB 3.0 port, we’re just confused as to what the microUSB port is supposed to do, since there are so few microUSB to microUSB cables out there, at least none that came with any of our review products.

A microUSB port. We think it's for data. We think. Now we just need to find a double-ended microUSB plug. Somewhere, we'll find one. Somewhere.

The screen will be another thing that most will like, with superb viewing angles, excellent colour, and solid responsiveness.

Windows 8 gestures all work well here, and whether you’re pinching and pulling, or flicking up and down, the screen can pick up on it without any problems. Even typing directly on the screen worked a treat, as did the Windows 8 button at the bottom of the display, which will take you back to the home screen in a jiffy.

The keyboard on the Tab-book can take quite a bit of getting used to, though, and not for the right reasons. Somewhere between being a little too short and slightly compressed, you’ll find that the places your fingers normally go – such as above the “q” for a “1” – aren’t quite hitting what they should be.

Typists familiar with either home row or hunting and pecking will suffer the same problems, as everything just feels condensed, which is a shame, because otherwise, the keyboard is quite comfy. While there’s not a lot of travel, each key has a satisfying click, and if it weren’t for the slight redesign this set of keys has had, we’d have enjoyed ourselves with less typos.

And we had a lot of typos.

The keyboard on the LG Tab-book Z160 is a little strange (top, with a Mac keyboard on the bottom). The layout is slightly pushed together, and you can see this in comparison to another keyboard when you look at the "Q", where the "1" takes different sides above each.