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Only a handful of notebooks are Windows SideShow-compatible. These portable devices aim to provide users with needed information without opening the cover or turning the notebook on. LG R200 has that ‘dual’ function thanks to its external screen, but what other features make this notebook stand out?


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The LG R200 sports a piano black exterior and has a 2.5-inch QVGA display used for its SideShow function. Be warned though, this kind of surface is a magnet for fingerprints, so users who wouldn’t like to see a ‘dirty’ notebook must bring the cleaning cloth that LG provided at all times.

This 12.1-inch notebook has a lot of connectivity options. There are three USB 2.0 ports, a 5-in-1 multimedia card reader, a PC Express Card slot, a Firewire port (IEEE 1394), an S-video and D-Sub output, a gigabit Ethernet and 56kbps modem port, a Line-in, Mic-in, and S/PDIF jack, and a cable PR port. The R200 also has an Intel 802.11a/b/g module and Bluetooth v2.0 that allow users to connect to the Internet wirelessly and transfer files from the computer to mobile phones, printers, or other Bluetooth-enabled device.

Performance:

The unit is powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo T7500 (2.2 Ghz) processor and uses an ATI Radeon HD 2300 graphics card, making it suitable for gaming so long as the RAM is upgraded (only comes with 1GB of RAM). The 12.1-inch WXGA panel has a screen resolution of 1280 by 800 but is not as bright as we hoped it could be. We had a hard time viewing our documents and movie clips as the screen was quite reflective at times, especially when used in a well-lit room.

 


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The keys are well-spaced and did not have a ‘different’ keyboard layout. However, the notebook lacks shortcut keys (e.g. Multimedia or Internet Explorer hotkey) that could have made things easier for users. Instead, users have to press the ‘Fn’ key and look for the corresponding function on the keyboard before gaining access to it. These functions include turning the wireless devices (Bluetooth and Wi-Fi) on/off, enabling or disabling the touchpad, setting the speakers to SRS WOW HD/ SRS TruSurround XT mode, changing the fan speed to normal/silent/cool, and adjusting brightness.

As mentioned, the notebook has a ‘Dual Display’ function that is used for a Windows Vista application called SideShow. This function allows a user to access information even without turning on the computer. And depending on the gadgets installed, one can check their schedule, read e-mail messages, listen to music, and even view photos.

Gadgets (like e-mail) will be regularly updated while the computer is turned on. If the computer is asleep, Windows can wake up your computer periodically just to update the information on the Dual Display device.


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Users can also listen to music or view photos without turning on the computer by synchronising the data using Windows Media Player. The device only has 1GB of capacity, so users must choose which music or photos files are to be saved on the flash memory. While this function is well-implemented, it could have been better if LG increased the storage capacity or just made the hard drive accessible even if the notebook is not turned on.

LG has also included several programs that will help you increase your battery life (BatteryMiser 5), look for updates for drivers, programs, and windows patches (LG Intelligent Update), and magnify your view (LG Magnifier). These programs can be easily accessed via the desktop or on the system icons.

Finally, battery life is less than remarkable for a 12.1-inch portable notebook as it only returned 115 minutes in our DVD playback test (when all set to maximum). Users are therefore advised to purchase another battery pack or plug it to any nearby socket when using the R200 for long periods of time.

 


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Conclusion:

Despite its short battery life, tinny sound output, and fingerprint-magnet surface, the LG R200 is still a solid notebook that can get things done. It has an abundance of connections, has the SideShow function that can play your music and photo files without turning on the PC, and comes with various programs that will make your computing experience a good one.

Product Specifications:

Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo processor 2.2GHz (T7500)

OS: Genuine Windows Vista Business

CPU
L2 Cache/FSB: 4MB / 800Mhz
Chipset: Mobile Intel 965PM Express

Display:
Display: 12.1″ WXGA (1280×800), SideShow: 2.5″ QVGA (320×240)
Fine Bright LCD Technology: Yes
Graphics Card: ATI Mobility Radeon HD 2300
Graphics Memory: 128MB VRAM, HyperMemory 384MB

Memory: 1GB DDR2 (667MHz)

Storage
HDD: 120GB (5400 RPM, SATA)
ODD: Super Multi; Dual Layer

Communication
Wireless Technology: Intel Pro Wireless 802.11a/b/g (3945ABG), Dual Hexa-band Antenna
LAN/Modem: Gigabit Ethernet / 56kbps Modem
Bluetooth: Yes (Bluetooth v2.0+EDR)

Others
Audio: SRS WOW HD, SRS TruSurround XT, 24-bit High Definition
I/O: 3USB, VGA, RJ45, RJ11, S-Video, IEEE1394, Line-in, Mic-in, S/PDIF (Headphone), Cable PR Port

Expansion Slot
PC Card Slot: PCMCIA Type II
Multi Media Card Slot: 5-in-1 (XD/SD/MMC/MS/MS Pro)

General
Battery: 6 Cell Li-Ion
Keyboard: 84 keys
Pointing Device: Touchpad with Scroll Function
Dimension (WxDxH): 301 x 226 x 34 mm
Weight: 1.94 Kg (with a 6-cell battery)

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LG R200 | $2699 |  | au.lge.com

For: SideShow functions; Abundance of ports; Small profile; Lightweight
Against: Fingerprint magnet; Screen is not bright enough; Battery life; Does not come with a built-in webcamera
Conclusion: A notebook that offers something ‘more’ with its SideShow function.

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