Hands-on: LG Tab-Book 2 review

LG unveiled an updated Tab-Book, the Tab-Book 2 at CES, and we were on hand to have a lengthy play at the company's stand to see what all the fuss is about.

First announced at CES 2013, this year's model is lighter and more powerful and comes with a new feature called Reader mode that dims the screen to let you read documents, books and the web without burning your eyes.

Designed to be a tablet with a slide-out keyboard, the device is slightly cumbersome and complicated, considering what it offers. The idea is that you press a button on the left-hand side of the screen and "hey, presto" the keyboard ejects itself out of nowhere like a Bond villain out of a DB7.

The hinge mechanism on the back works but looks all too easy to break, while the whole thing felt a little over-balanced when we started to type. We weren't able to do any "lap typing" but we can't see this working too well without a solid perch to rest it on.

That said, if you do have a desk, coffee table or some other solid ground, the keys are nicely laid out and because of the 11.6-inch screen not too tightly packed.

There is no trackpad, although you can add a mouse - or, because this is Windows 8.1, just use the screen to control the mouse: there even seemed to be a transparent trackpad on screen to help you further. 

Surprisingly that keyboard doesn't add a huge amount to the overall thickness of the device - it's 16.7mm thick - but that combined with the break in the frame that you have to deal with isn't unnoticeable either.

In terms of the rest of the laptop-come-tablet, the HD IPS display is nice and bright and the Intel Core i5 processor enough to get most tasks done on the road, although we didn't really have time to give it a proper test with anything other than a handful of pre-installed apps like Office. 

As for that Reader mode, again activated by another button this time on the right of the screen, it's all a bit strange.

It seems to have little effect other than making the screen dimmer and a little more opaque and yellow, although we could see that in a dark room it might be helpful, but then why can't automatic brightness do that for you?

First impressions

The LG Tab-Book 2 looks to be a bit confused as it tries to be a tablet and a laptop at the same time and comes away being a poor version of both. Had it been a tablet with a bolt-on keyboard or just a cheap and easy to use laptop it might have worked, but as it stands it's neither.

A full review might change our minds, but we left the stand in Las Vegas feeling confused. Too many compromises seem to have left the Tab-Book 2 muddled, to say the least.