Light and bright: LG’s Ultra PC Z940 reviewed

LG’s second attempt at an Ultrabook sports a clear screen, a refined look, and a mouse that looks usable. Has LG nailed it, or will the next time be the one?

Features

Intel’s fourth generation Core processors have been out for over half a year, so now it’s time to see what LG can do with its laptops, updating last year’s machines that just missed out on the chip updates.

Here in the new model of LG thin and light laptop, the company hasn’t just splashed out on a new chip, refreshing the design and screen considerably.

We’ll check out those later, but for now, the specifications are important, with LG opting to use an Intel Core i5 4200U processor clocked at 1.60GHz, a chip right out of Intel’s Haswell generation launched mid-last year, and running the Intel HD 4400 graphics chipset.

Memory is set to 4GB RAM, while storage is all solid-state in this machine, and while our review model was a 128GB model, LG has told us 256GB versions will be made available. Adding to this is a microSD slot on the Z940, making it easy to expand the storage, though there is one less microSD slot than on last year’s model.

The screen sits at 13.3 inches on the Z940, running a Full HD resolution of 1920×1080, with an In-Plane Switching panel providing the underlying technology here.

As is normal with other ultra-portable machines, there is no optical drive, though your ports are reasonably plentiful for the 13 inch form-factor, with two USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI, one headset jack, and a microUSB port for the microUSB to wired LAN adaptor that comes in the box.

Wireless is, of course, supported here, running 802.11a/b/g/n/ac connectivity and Bluetooth 4.0.

And of course there’s the operating system, which out of the box is Windows 8.1.

Performance

The second generation of LG’s return to notebook computers, the Z940 strays away from Intel’s conventional naming scheme of an “Ultrabook,” even though the design and specifications of LG’s new ultra-light machine are close.

But the keyword here is “close,” which it is, but with no touchscreen, there is also no cigar, as that is one of the requirements for a 2014 Ultrabook-designed machine to be called an “Ultrabook,” which is an Intel controlled name and specification.

In its place, however, is the name “Ultra PC” which is a neat way of saying “not quite an Ultrabook thanks to the omission of a touchscreen.”

Once you get over the name, you can get right to the computer, which has been built to be small, light, and very slick.

From a design point of view, our white 13 inch Z940 feels almost like it’s taking a page from art’s “White on White” by Kazimir Malevich.

There are three other colours to choose from, but in the white version we reviewed, LG has gone with lots and lots of white, with different shades throughout the design. There’s a warm white chassis, with cold white keys and mouse, and a lid that goes with a matte finish that also gets dirty easily.

Only after three days with us, we could already see some black marks on the edge, so make sure to keep this thing clean, or go with a different colour option.

Look closely and you'll see some minor black scuff marks.

In the hands, the plastic design is actually very easy to hold, with a soft feeling that is comfortable and easy to carry.

Part of the reason the Z940 is so comfortable, though, is the weight, which is barely noticeable. We’ve felt heavier iPad keyboard cases with the iPad in place, and at 0.94 kilograms, LG’s Z940 is easily one of the lightest Intel Core-based computers out there.

In fact, the LG Z940 is so light, you might even forget it’s there.

You can hold it one hand without any problems, and it will barely make a dent when left on your lap. It’s so wonderful seeing a computer drop to this barely noticeable weight, especially since we’re still seeing heavy laptops make their way out from various manufacturers.

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