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    LG Express LM70-32HR Notebook: Impressions

    1st December 2006

    This is not a review, but usage impressions. If you’re looking for LM70 reviews, try this one. It has good overall description, and is generally helpful. For general notebook considerations, see also my post.

    Disclaimer: I am in no way associated with LG, and I have no personal benefits from this post. Text is provided AS IS, and no liabilities are assumed based on it. Use it at your own risk – though all efforts were put into making this text accurate and non-biased.

    Before going to vacations this summer (you may want to see the photos), I wanted to by a notebook, in order to be able to work a bit on my important projects while I’m away. Frankly speaking, I used my new and shiny notebook more for gaming, and not for work.

    I was short of time, and had to make a fast decision on what notebook I wanted. My requirements were: lightweight (NOT 3 kg), WiFi, 15-inch display with resolution not lower than 1280×800, long battery life, discrete graphics solution, DVD-RW super-multi drive, and Centrino platform. I wanted all of this to be somewhere around 1000$.

    From the very start I had to put away a number of Celeron-based notebooks, as “Celeron is not Pentium” :) , and to the best of my knowledge it lacks energy-saving features.

    Having a couple of good choices, I bought LG Express series notebook LM70-32HR. It was the only one from those I liked weighing 2.3 kg; for me, the drawbacks of this model’s configuration are combo DVD/CD-RW drive instead of DVD-RW, and the absence of built-in Bluetooth (FIR/IrDA is also absent, but I don’t think I’ll be ever using those).

    LM70-32HR is solidly built with light but sturdy casing. The design is good – the notebook looks like it’s worth the price I paid for it, but still nothing outstanding (what else would you expect from a serial model?). Due to the 15″ display, the notebook is rather large, but it’s thinner and lighter than the majority of other 15″ notebooks available, and this is a great benefit I enjoyed carrying it from home to the institute every day during my stay in Gliwice, Poland. The only trouble might be the size – with its roughly 20×30 cm size, it might not fit into your backpack, if you like smaller ones. But personally I prefer 15″ displays over any smaller…

    Keyboard is fine, and LG claims they use some special “ER” technology to improve the feel. It doesn’t “click” loudly as you type, but you still know that you did press the button even not looking at the screen/keyboard. The “function” key is the leftmost in the bottom row, where the Control key is usually located (the same layout is used by ASUS, from what I’ve seen). At first this is highly inconvenient, but now I’m a bit used to it. Still, switching from notebook to desktop is uncomfortable because of this “function” key.

    Touchpad is covered with a thin plastic layer, which does not impede any of its functions. There are both well-marked vertical and unmarked horizontal scrolls on the touchpad. Anyway, I’m not using it too much, as I think that a wireless mouse is still much more comfortable and precise.

    The TFT screen is good. It is not mirroring light into your eyes, like the glossy “glass-like” screens do. Only in the worst-case scenario (working in dimly lit environment with a light source a little bit behind and sidewards from you) you may get visible blurred flare on the screen. The flare-protection of the screen is not the top I had ever seen, but it is really good – might be one of the best, IMO.

    It’s pleasant to have native 1400×1050 resolution – you can fit lots on the screen :), however don’t use tiny fonts, unless you have eagle’s eyes. Interpolation to lower resolutions works fine in games, but not that fine for desktop; however, the problem of “good native” and “bad lower” resolutions is a well-known one for all TFT displays. As for brightness – I didn’t test it outdoors yet, but for any in-office lighting conditions the brightness range was sufficient for comfortable operation. Despite the energy mode (battery or AC power), you can set the brightness you like – of course, at the expense of the battery life, if you are on battery.

    Battery life at first was very disappointing – it was around two hours on a complete charge; but that appeared to be some initial temporal effect, as after some time I could work up to three hours (no heavy load or game playing). I didn’t do the “last man standing” test for the battery in “games-only mode”, but I can estimate the time on battery under heavy load as 2+ hours. I don’t know if this battery life is specific only to my exact item (which, according to BIOS dates, was manufactured nearly a year ago), or if it’s common for other LM70 models as well. I’d say that battery life is average.

    As I mentioned earlier, the drawback of my model is a combo drive, and not Super-multi DVD+RW – but this can be upgraded, what I plan to do a bit later, simultaneously with adding more RAM – my current 512MB are enough for usual tasks, but hardly sufficient even for the simplest microarrays analysis using R. Another single thing which I dislike a bit, and which cannot be changed, is the seemingly software volume control – i.e., if you did not mute sounds when shutting down the previous time, you won’t be able to mute before Windows plays its startup sound :(. I also do not know yet if volume control functions under Linux, which is going to become my optional bootable system.

    LM70 has two speakers (0.8 Watt together) under the front panel. The sound is fine, with no distortion on over-amplified tracks. Headphones performance is good. There is also SPDIF combined with headphones plug. Nothing else to say here :).

    As for the performance – soon I’ll post the results of running Super Pi on a number of machines, including LM70. Preliminary – it appears that Pentium M is faster than Pentium 4 with equal core frequency. Come back soon to see actual numbers.

    Dedicated X600 graphics card makes LM70 a machine suitable for playing games. Such games as X2: The Threat, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic were playable (not on max settings). However, when playing either in a hot environment, or for over than an hour, the video card will heat over, and will automatically slow down, causing framerate to fall. Actually, in this setup video card looks beneficial mostly to some rendering software, which can make use of video card’s capabilities to speed up rendering – here, frame rate won’t be that much a limiting factor. As for over-night :) gaming, you should look for some literally “cool” places :).

    Instead of the summary. I like this notebook, and do not regret buying it. I think it’s a good feature pack as for its weight and size, and probably just a little bit overpriced – due to being slim and light. Recently I noticed that more models from the portable LM70 series appeared, and with good prices. For just a bit over $1000 you will readily get DVD super-multi, 2GHz Pentium M, 80GB SATA HDD and some other nice features – and all of that in the same form-factor as my LM70-32HR, and even a bit lighter – just 2.2 kg. I might even consider buying another LG notebook next year for my wife :), especially if prices continue to drop as they did recently :) . Core Duo and Core 2 Duo are really pushing good old Pentium M’s to lower-price segment.

    Update: see my post on the performance of Pentium M as compared to Pentium 4 using Super Pi.

    Update 2: sometimes, after booting up my Windows XP Home Edition (russian, came pre-installed :( ), it appears impossible to type the password: instead of a new symbol in the password field, the cursors might just move left or right (for letter ‘U’ and and ‘O’, respectively). It appears as some minor keyboard drivers bug, which results in keyboard malfunctioning (mis-functioning?) after booting up. To fix: just enable the numeric keyboard (Fn + NumLk/ScrLk, the numeric light should light-up), and then disable it (same keys, numeric ligh should go off). After this you must be able to enter your password whatever symbols you have in it :).

    Disclaimer: I am in no way associated with LG, and I have no personal benefits from this post. Text is provided AS IS, and no liabilities are assumed based on it. Use it at your own risk – though all efforts were put into making this text accurate and non-biased.


    One Response to “LG Express LM70-32HR Notebook: Impressions”

    1. Pentium M vs Pentium 4 performance comparison using Super Pi » Autarchy of the Private Cave Says:

      [...] LG Express LM70-32HR Notebook: Impressions [...]

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