There is only so far you can go with a netbook in terms of design and with so many available now, the LG falls solidly into the MSI Wind school of design. This is a good thing because on that aforementioned model the keyboard stretches to the extreme of both edges; very little space is wasted. So you’ll find the X110 has a keyboard that is a good size, thanks both to the 10.1-inch screen meaning a wider frame, and efficiency in levering in the keyboard.
The result is a keyboard that has well-proportioned keys, with the most used being of a slightly larger size, so you’ll find the function keys across the top slightly reduced in size, which is no bad thing in everyday use. The comma and full stop keys are also of a decent size, something that is often overlooked, so typing is a breeze. There is a nice firm action to those keys and not too much flex in the keyboard. Finally, the Fn and Ctrl keys in the bottom left corner are the right way round, so those moving from a larger notebook should have no problems with fast typing and deploying shortcuts.
The trackpad below this is a little on the small side, with a single bottom bar with clicks at each end sitting below this. The look is pretty slick though, being part of the same panel as the rest of the surrounding deck and performs adequately enough. Notebook mice are a cheap addition and really make it much easier to use this size of PC.
The screen itself as mentioned is a 10.1-inch display, which we feel is the more usable dimension for netbooks giving you a great compromise without things getting too small. The screen presents a 1024 x 600 pixel resolution and is nice and bright, but standard fare for this type of device. Built-in to the screen bezel you’ll find a 1.3-megapixel camera and microphone so you are set for video chat whilst on your travels.
In terms of connectivity you get 10/100 Ethernet and b/g Wi-Fi, which might leave you feeling a little short-changed, as international versions are available with 3G and Bluetooth as well, however the UK spec model doesn’t benefit from these options, leaving the X110 somewhat out of phase with the rest of the netbook world. There are models kicking around with a 3G modem included (behind the battery), but LG have made it clear to us that this isn’t the UK standard specification.
However, you do get three USBs for your peripherals and a VGA port for hooking up to a bigger display. The standard mic and headphone sockets are also present, whilst a 4-in-1 card reader gives you the option of slotting in SD, MMC, MS, PS Pro cards.
Sitting under the hood you’ll find the Intel Atom N270 processor, running at 1.6GHz and backed by 1GB or RAM, which is the new standard for netbooks, along with a 160GB hard disc drive, with Windows XP at the helm. These specs mean that things tick along fairly well and you’ll have plenty of space to store your music or files whilst on the move, but is nothing out of the ordinary.
What is a little bit more interesting is the inclusion of some SRS magic behind the sound. This allows you to adapt the settings, switching between SRS TruSurround XT and the more sophisticated SRS WOW HD. Unfortunately there is nothing to get excited about with the included stereo speakers. Like other netbooks we’ve seen, they do sound poor, but the headphone experience is much better, and more likely if using this PC on the move.
What isn’t conducive to use on the move, however, is the battery life. In fact you’ll only get about 2 hours and 15 minutes from the standard three-cell battery, which is poor performance by any measure. There isn’t a low power mode either to save you from this problem, so you’ll have to look for and buy a six-cell battery, or not stray very far from the mains.
But there is also another problem that might irritate mobile workers that comes back to the solid feeling build: the screen is too heavy. This might seem like a small point, but if you sit the X110 down on anything that isn’t a flat desk, with the lid open, it wants to topple backwards. So if you have it on your lap on the train, you can’t take your hand off it, because it will try to somersault backwards off your legs.
And that sort of defies the purpose of the netbook. It is tricky to use in truly mobile situations, and lacks the hardware to connect you to mobile internet without an additional dongle. Were you to do that, the battery life wouldn’t give you anything either, so it fails in key areas.
But the X110 in the UK is mostly a “free” laptop from mobile phone retailers, either as part of a mobile broadband bundle or with a mobile phone contract, so for those looking for an out-and-about netbook, then look elsewhere. But if you do get the option of the LG X110 for free, it serves perfectly well as a bedroom internet machine.