During CES, we heard that LG was planning to make itself more known in computers, and now after playing with the slate for the first half of the year, we can see why.
LG looks to be getting into computers in a big way this year, with more devices than just the two machines we saw in the middle of 2013. Case in point, it’s the beginning of 2014 now, and the brand has a lot to show, with more scheduled for later in the year, we were told.
The first of these is an interesting one, with the world’s first Google Chrome OS all-in-one desktop.
Essentially, this is a 21.5 inch desktop computer styled in a way that looks like a plastic iMac, but rather than run a full operating system, there’s a Chromebook inside this.
For those who haven’t seen one, a Chromebook is essentially a laptop that runs Google’s Chrome web browser as an operating system, a feature that makes the computer more secure thanks to how few security attacks are developed for the Chrome operating system.
Outside of the security issue, you’ll find most of us are using the web more these days than specific applications, and if you’re already someone reliant on YouTube, Gmail, Google search, web surfing, online games, social networking, and anything else connected to the web, the operating system makes a lot of sense.
In the Chrome base, LG has taken what is essentially a Chromebook and made it stationary, running the Chrome OS on an Intel fourth-generation Celeron (Haswell) alongside 2GB RAM, 16GB solid-state drive, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth, and several USB ports under a 21.5 inch Full HD 1920×1080 screen.
It’s better looking in person than you might expect, and we’re intrigued to see a full-size HDMI input on the back of the display, making it a display for other things, such as an Xbox or PlayStation if need be.
Pricing for LG ChromeBase will come in at $599 RRP with an expected release in April.
Next up is an update to LG’s Windows 8 computers, two of which were released last year. Both will be seeing a refresh, but only one will be sold to consumers in 2014.
The Ultrabook is that computer, and while the first version just missed out on the latest Intel chips from the fourth-generation, the new model will get the goods, jumping to Haswell-based Core i5 and i7 processors, with either 128GB or 256GB of solid-state storage.
A quick hands-on with the new one, the Z940, reveals what we had hoped for when LG announced the machines at CES in January: yes, there’s a proper mouse this time around.
In the first incarnation, LG had integrated the mouse with the plastic wrist pad, creating an unusual experience for using the mouse, though not one we came to admire or find comfortable to use.
With this latest model, though, the company appears to have taken our criticisms and moved with them, integrating a trackpad with a button underneath, which will no doubt make the computers easier to use.
The screen is also a touch bigger in size, with LG slimming the bezel a tad and technically increasing the screen size from 13.3 to 14 inches.
Unfortunately, there’s still no touchscreen here, a fact that surprises us immensely given how much better Windows 8 is with touch, but perhaps that’s something LG will bring later down the track.
The LG Ultrabook will be priced from $1298 for the Core i5 model, while the i7 model will start at $1898, both hitting stores from late February.
LG’s other 2013 machine, the Tab-book, will also be getting an upgrade, but from what LG tells us, it will be marketed only at business people in the B2B area.
For the new Tab-book, LG has cleaned up some of the edges, tightened the design, and generally made the machine feel a little more sturdy. Outside of the design, though, the insides have been upgraded too, with new Intel chips and a Full HD 11 inch screen used here.
Unfortunately, if you’re not buying in business, you’re unlikely to see it, which is a shame since the machine looks to be a nice update.
Outside of the laptops and Chromebase, there will also be a few monitors, and while last year saw LG really get itself deep in 21:9 ultra-wide territory, this year, the company is truly stuck inside.
We saw three, one of which was an updated model from last year’s 29EA73, but the one that really grabbed our attention is the company’s first QHD monitor.
With a screen size of 34 inches diagonally, it’s not a small screen by any stretch of the imagination, and with a resolution of 3440×1440, it really proves it.
This is one of the world’s first Quad HD displays, a monitor that isn’t quite the “Quad Full HD” that Ultra High Def 4K is, but still manages to pack in almost five million pixels thanks to that massive 3440×1440 resolution.
Called the 34UM95, its the first LG monitor to support Thunderbolt 2, and can even show both a Mac and a Windows PC at the same time by running both inputs side by side, a neat feature that will likely appeal to people who normally keep two monitors on their desk simultaneously.
Early March will see the release of this one, appearing in stores for a $1299 recommended retail price.
All up, it looks to be an interesting few months for LG in computers, and with a few more things coming out, such as a new mouse that features scanning technology, a Bluetooth headset that can also pick up on Facebook alerts, and a USB key with support for microUSB for phones, we could see LG make a play for some unexpected areas, too.