Light and bright: LG’s Ultra PC Z940 reviewed

100% human

Start using it and you’ll fall in love with the screen, which lacks touch, but makes up for with sharpness. While it’s not the same sort of higher-than-Full HD panel Toshiba graced us with on the Kirabook, the Z940 easily has one of the sharpest screens we’ve seen on any laptop.

The 13.3 inch display is almost bezel-less too, with 2mm edges on each side, which help to make the screen just pop out from the frame.

Great viewing angles make this a standout screen, even if there is no touch.

Next up is the keyboard and mouse, and yay, LG has fixed what was easily the most irritating part of last year’s model of Ultrabook from the company.

Yes, rather than come with a plastic mouse that has no button and awkwardly integrates with the chassis, LG has made the bold move of reintroducing the touchpad mouse in a logical way, which I basically one big button as a touchpad, with left and right click mapped to each side, and multitouch gestures supported by the touchpad and its driver.

It’s a huge improvement on the original mouse, which was hard to get your head around, and made us yearn for a wireless mouse to be plugged in at all times.

Real mice are always better than the ones built as part of the plastic wrist pad.

The keyboard is also better, and while the island keys are shallow to press down, there’s a firm click as you do so, and we had no problems typing not just emails and articles, but also this very review on the keys.

Performance-wise, the Z940 is basically run of the mill performance for an Intel Core i5, with speedy switch on times, one second returns from standby, and most pieces of software able to run with no problems whatsoever.

The Intel fourth-gen processors are certainly doing their part, but we noticed some speed issues around loading apps and bringing up the menus. It’s not a huge issue, and you’re not likely to notice it all the time, but we can’t imagine the only 4GB of RAM is helping here, especially when most other competing Ultrabooks seem to be equipped with 8GB.

Then there’s the battery, which dents an otherwise top package.

We generally don’t think too highly of batteries that don’t offer much bang for your buck, and unfortunately that’s a statement that is true of the Z940.

In testing, we found that with WiFi switched on, and doing the things you might buy a laptop for — you know, like web surfing, emails, editing photos, and playing the odd game — there was just barely four hours of battery life.

Another day with the laptop, and we could spy as much as five hours possible from our tester, though real world usage once again came closer to a little over four hours. A third and fourth day brought the expected battery life up to around six, though real world usage didn’t quite hit that life, again weighing in at between four and five.

Making matters a little more curious, our review model was the Core i5 version, which no doubt has less performance and potentially more battery life than the more expensive i7 equivalent, so we’re really curious how many hours you will (or won’t) get out of the higher spec’d Z940.

It’s likely that the overall lack of weight of the LG Z940 is helped by not having a big battery inside, but your experience will also be cramped by this weak amount of juice.

Further testing found that as much as six hours could be found, provided you stuck on LG’s “silent mode,” which slows the computer down, reducing performance, but delivering better battery life.

Battery charge time is around an hour and a half for this to be fully charged, mind you, so it’s not too bad for the charge time, but the return isn’t the all-day life you might expect out of a modern ultra-light machine.

Also a negative is the screen, which desperately needs to be a touchscreen.

There’s really no excuse anymore, LG. We got it last year when the first LG Ultrabook arrived with Intel’s Ivy Bridge chips, but with fourth-generation processors supporting touchscreens, and Windows 8 being easier to use when a touchscreen is employed, there isn’t an excuse for not having one.

Outside of the lack of touch interactivity, the screen is beautiful, sharp, clear, and easy to read, but Windows 8 was built for touch, and lesser priced machines arrive with support for your fingers, so this certainly should too.

Conclusion

There is certainly a lot to like about the LG Z940, and for the most part, it’s an excellent effort. The screen is razor sharp and looks amazing, the build is solid and extremely light, the keyboard is decent, and hooray, LG has this time understood what it means to include a usable mouse.

But the battery could be better, because four to five hours doesn’t cut it as a mobile computer, especially when the point of Intel’s most recent generation of processors was to bring about higher battery life. It’s a good thing that power points are usually within reach for most people, but you shouldn’t have to rely on this.

That said, if you want the lightest Windows 8 performer you can bring with you, LG’s Z940 Ultra PC is certainly it, but make sure to carry around the power cord, because you’ll need it.

 

Overall
Features
Value for money
Performance
Ease of Use
Design
Reader Rating0 Votes
Hooray: a real mouse; Very, very light; Two USB 3.0 ports; microSD slot for expanding memory; Beautifully sharp and clear screen;
Battery is hit and miss; White version is a mark magnet; Very reflective screen; No touch built into the screen; Performance can jump around, often being fast, and then slower than it should be;
4.1