Review: LG Z360 Ultrabook

LG has been making computer parts for some time, but it hasn’t had a hand in modern notebook computing, at least not in our country. This year, however, we’ve had a taste for a tablet produced by LG, and now it’s time for an Ultrabook, with a thin, light, and white piece of engineering making its way to stores now.

Features

There are lots of exciting things happening in Ultrabook computers, especially with the launch of Intel’s latest processor range, the fourth-generation Core technology also called “Haswell.”

LG’s Z360 was announced and developed before that, however, so LG’s first proper Ultrabook in Australia misses out on the new Intel chips.

Despite this, there’s still some decent technology in this computer, including an Intel Core i5 processor clocked at 1.8GHz, 4GB RAM, Intel HD4000 graphics, Windows 8 running in 64-bit, and a 128GB solid-state drive.

The display follows the standard Ultrabook size of choice, 13.3 inches, but packs in a Full HD resolution of 1920×1080 and takes advantage of In-Plane Switching technology, the same screen type used for the Apple iPad and other high-grade tablets.

Connectivity is all fairly normal here, with 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, Intel wireless display (WiDi), two USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI, Ethernet over a small breakout cable, and the typical 3.5mm headset jack.

Interestingly, there is no SD card slot, but LG has provided something very surprising, and that’s two microSD slots, a first for us as a feature.

Other typical laptop pieces are here, including a keyboard, trackpad mouse, webcam at the top of the LCD, and regular Ultrabook feature of a non-replaceable battery. An extra column of keys are also included, making up for the touchscreen with shortcuts to Windows 8 functions such as swiping to bring up the Start Bar, task manager, settings, search, and more.

The casing is made from plastic, and when held, the laptop weighs 1.15 kilograms.

Performance

The second of two computers announced for release in Australia and hinted at earlier in the year at CES, the Z360 is an Ultrabook aimed at the crowd that wants something small and light, but still doesn’t want to compromise on performance.

Let’s talk aesthetics first, because LG hasn’t approached this from the typical “make it metal” view that we commonly see.

In fact, there’s not a lick of alloy in the design of this machine, with LG sticking to plastic, and all in white. The lid is matte white, and the inside too where the keyboard matches with more matte white.

The bottom of the casing follows suit with yet more matte white, all un-shiny and unobtrusive. It’s not the glossy type of white we came to expect from Apple’s polycarbonate white MacBook that has since been retired, but a more “I’ll let you sit in the background” form of subtlety.

Picking it up, it’s clear that LG has been focusing attention on weight, with barely 1.15 kilograms to its name and size.

That’s around 200 grams lighter than the equivalent MacBook Air, and thanks to a resistive white plastic, is also easier to grip.

Overall, it’s a sexy design that oozes simplicity, and one we like quite a lot.

Switch it on, and you’re greeted with that now familiar Windows 8 icon interface, and one of most colourful Ultrabook screens we’ve seen in a while.

From what we can tell, it’s an LG built display providing a very solid Full HD 1920×1080 resolution in the 13 inch form-factor, which will delight many, and even manages decent viewing angles.

It’s also a touch deceiving, because the screen is so glossy and reflective that you’ll think it’s a touchscreen when it, well, isn’t.

We know it lacks touch, but the glossy look made us constantly think it was, regardless of what we did.

Over in the battery department, we managed a decent effort, with just shy of six hours of constant use in writing, surfing the web, checking mail, and generally being the web fiends that we are.

One of the unique design choices has also impressed us greatly: dual microSD slots.

It’s easily one of the more surprising aspects of the machine, and we suspect it’s one that stems from the idea that solid-state drives don’t often provide enough storage for everyone.

With two microSD slots, though, anyone can upgrade their storage quickly, popping in up to two 16, 32, or 64GB microSD cards and providing more space for your files.

The downside to two microSD slots is that LG has ignored the standard full-sized SD card slot, meaning digital cameras will likely have to be plugged in using their dedicated cables, which might bug a few people.

Performance for this system is about standard from what we’ve seen of computers in the past year. Intel’s Core i5 has no problem running multiple apps, switching between them, and while this is by no means a gaming machine, playing the odd title here and there works fine.

It takes a little over ten seconds to switch on from being cold and off, but standby is your usual speedy Ultrabook time of around one second, so nothing to complain about on either of these, and this performance should delight anyone.

Only 128GB of storage sits inside, but you can upgrade that with the microSD slots as we mentioned above, and that’s good because only around 75GB of the drive is available once Windows is installed.

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