LG R500 Review

by Jerry Jackson Reads (92,960)

by Jerry Jackson

The LG R500 is the new top-of-the-line notebook in the R-series from LG Electronics. The notebook offers a solid foundation for performance thanks to Intel Core 2 Duo (Santa Rosa) processors, nVidia GeForce 8600m GS dedicated graphics and plenty of RAM and HDD storage space. Although LG officially advertises the R500 as a "business notebook" the R500 is also perfectly capable of serving as a full-featured consumer notebook or budget gaming notebook. Unfortunately for our readers in the US, the LG R500 only available outside the US at this time … starting at about $1,899 in Canada or 1,499 euros.

Our LG R500 review unit features the following specifications:

  • Microsoft Windows Vista Business
  • Intel Core 2 Duo processor T7300 (2.0GHz)
  • 15.4" Fine Bright WXGA TFT LCD
  • nVidia Geforce 8600m GS 256MB
  • 2GB DDR2 system RAM
  • 160GB SATA HDD (5400rpm)
  • DVD SuperMulti dual layer drive
  • 10/100/1000 Ethernet
  • Wireless LAN: Intel 4965AGN
  • Bluetooth
  • 1.3 megapixel webcam
  • 5-in-1 memory card reader
  • 1GB Intel Turbo Memory
  • 6-cell Li-Ion battery (2600mAh)
  • 90W AC adapter
  • Dimensions(WxDxH): 357mm x 260mm x 33-38mm
  • Weight: 2.8 Kg (with battery)


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Build and Design

The overall construction of the R500 is plastic but the notebook is remarkably solid and suffers from little or no flex even when significant force is applied. The design itself is very "traditional" in terms of overall shape but there are unique accents in terms of paint and refined edges. The LCD lid on the R500 does not have a latch to hold it closed, but the hinge mechanism works well and firmly holds the lid in place.


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The screen lid and palm rests are coated with a distinct "wave" pattern and high gloss finish. The wave pattern on the lid is a combination of black and blue while the wave pattern on the palm rests and touchpad is a combination of light and dark gray. The overall effect is both stylish and unique … but some users might find it makes the notebook look less professional. The angled front edge of the notebook gives the R500 a distinct design. The only negative issue with the angled front edge is that the 5-in-1 card reader located at the front of the notebook is somewhat recessed on the angled edge … which makes it difficult to insert or remove memory cards.


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One minor annoyance with the design of the LG R500 is the blue LED on the back of the screen lid. While the blue LED is a nice touch by itself, whenever you open a web browser to surf the internet wirelessly the blue LED flashes on and off until you close the web browser. Needless to say, if you’re browsing the web at a local coffee shop, at work, or in class you have a bright blue light flashing that says, "Look at me! I’m on the internet!" We really wish there was an option to disable this LED.

Screen

The 15.4" widescreen display on the R500 is a gorgeous WXGA 1280 x 800 glossy display with excellent contrast and rich colors. Although the resolution isn’t quite as impressive as some of the WXGA+ 1440 x 900 displays we’ve seen, the display on the R500 doesn’t suffer from "graininess" or any other problems such as stuck pixels or bleeding edges. The display features fairly bright and even backlighting even under the strong lights in our office.


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Vertical viewing angles on the R500 are average with colors "washing out" as you view the screen from above and colors beginning to invert as you view the screen from below. That said, most people don’t view their notebook screens in this way and the screen looks fabulous from normal viewing angles.


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Horizontal viewing angles proved even more impressive on the R500 as we could still easily read text and view images on the screen even if we stood to the far left or far right of the screen. Multiple people certainly won’t have any trouble watching a DVD or viewing a business presentation on this notebook.


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Webcam

The integrated 1.3 megapixel webcam on the R500 is a nice feature with mixed performance. The pre-installed LG SmartCam software makes it quick and easy to capture still images or live video using the built-in webcam. The video frame rate was good enough to capture smooth motion but colors came out a bit pink under our florescent office lighting. Overall, the webcam is perfectly capable for online video chat or business video conference calls.


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Keyboard, Touchpad and Other Input Buttons

The keyboard on the R500 was a pleasant surprise. The full-sized keyboard is solid with almost no flex and even includes a dedicated number pad. The keys have minimal travel with excellent cushion and response, and there is a good combination of dedicated keys and fn combo keys.

The only issue I encountered with the keyboard involved the layout. Since the R500 doesn’t use the standard US keyboard layout I found myself making many typos. That said, this isn’t really an issue since the R500 isn’t being sold in the US.


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The touchpad and touchpad buttons are slick and responsive. Both the touchpad and buttons are covered in the same "wave" pattern and high gloss finish as the palm rests. This gloss coating gave the touchpad a very durable feel and the recessed fingerprint reader located between the touchpad buttons worked well without being accidentally triggered while using the touchpad.


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The only dedicated media buttons on the R500 are related to volume and SRS virtual surround sound controls.


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Performance and Benchmarks

The R500 we received for review is equipped with the Intel Core 2 Duo T7300 processor, 2GB of DDR2 RAM and nVidia GeForce 8600m GS dedicated graphics. The dual core processor and plenty of system RAM are more than enough of a foundation for everyday performance, but the 8600m GS video card means the R500 is perfectly capable of playing most current video games and won’t suffer any lag when viewing high definition video files.

In addition, the R500 packs 1GB of Intel Turbo Memory. Intel claims that Turbo memory provides improved software loading speed … about 2.6 times faster than HDD and about 20 percent shorter booting time. While our own tests of various notebooks equipped with Intel Turbo memory haven’t proven these claims, the LG R500 was impressively fast during regular web browsing, word processing and playing multimedia files. Our standard set of benchmarks also indicate the R500 provides more than enough performance for most uses.

Another item of note in terms of overall performance is that the R500 comes with virtually no bloatware pre-installed. Given the fact that most notebooks in this same class come loaded with dozens of useless applications that hog system resources it’s refreshing to see a notebook without a ton of bloatware.

Super Pi comparison results:

Notebook Time
LG R500 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300) 1m 00s
HP dv2500t (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300) 0m 58s
Dell Inspiron 1420 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500) 0m 54s
Sony VAIO FZ (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300) 0m 59s
Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300) 0m 58s
Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300) 1m 01s
Lenovo 3000 V200 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300) 0m 59s
HP dv2500t (1.80GHz Intel 7100) 1m 09s
Lenovo ThinkPad T61 (2.00GHz Core 2 Duo Intel T7300) 0m 59s
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.00GHz Core 2 Duo T7200) 1m 03s
Toshiba Satellite P205-S6287 (1.73 GHz Core 2 Duo Intel T5300) 1m 24s
Toshiba Satellite A205 (1.66GHz Core 2 Duo) 1m 34s
HP Compaq 6515b (1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-52) 2m 05s
HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T2400) 0m 59s
Dell Inspiron e1705 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo) 1m 02s

PCMark05 comparison results:

Notebook PCMark05 Score
LG R500 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GS 256MB) 4,702 PCMarks
HP dv2500t (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB) 4,522 PCMarks
Dell Inspiron 1420 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS) 4,925 PCMarks
Sony VAIO FZ (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 3,377 PCMarks
Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS) 4,591 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 4,153 PCMarks
Lenovo 3000 V200 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 3,987 PCMarks
Lenovo T60 Widescreen (2.0GHz Intel T7200, ATI X1400 128MB) 4,189 PCMarks
HP dv6000t (2.16GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400) 4,234 PCMarks
Fujitsu N6410 (1.66GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400) 3,487 PCMarks
Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60, Nvidia Go 7800GTX) 5,597 PCMarks
Sony Vaio SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400) 3,637 PCMarks
Asus V6J (1.86GHz Core Duo T2400, Nvidia Go 7400) 3,646 PCMarks

3DMark05 comparison results:

Notebook 3D Mark 05 Results
LG R500 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GS 256MB) 4,752 3DMarks
HP dv2500t (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB) 2,157 3DMarks
Dell Inspiron 1420 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB) 2,840 3DMarks
Sony VAIO FZ (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 910 3DMarks
Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB) 3,116 3DMarks
HP Compaq 6510b (2.20GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, Intel X3100) 916 3DMarks
HP Compaq 6515b (1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-52, ATI x1270) 871 3DMarks
HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400) 2,013 3D Marks
Dell Inspiron e1705 (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400) 1,791 3D Marks
Acer TravelMate 8204WLMi (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 256MB) 4,236 3DMarks
Alienware Aurora M-7700(AMD Dual Core FX-60, ATI X1600 256MB) 7,078 3D Marks
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400 128MB) 2,092 3D Marks
Dell XPS M1210 (2.16 GHz Core Duo, nVidia Go 7400 256MB) 2,090 3D Marks

3DMark06 comparison results:

Notebook 3DMark06 Score
LG R500 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GS 256MB) 2,776 3DMarks
HP dv2500t (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB) 1,055 3DMarks
Dell Inspiron 1420 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB) 1,329 3DMarks
Sony VAIO FZ (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 532 3DMarks
Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB) 1,408 3DMarks
Samsung Q70 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7300 and nVidia 8400M G GPU) 1,069 3DMarks
Asus F3sv-A1 (Core 2 Duo T7300 2.0GHz, Nvidia 8600M GS 256MB) 2,344 3DMarks
Alienware Area 51 m5550 (2.33GHz Core 2 Duo, nVidia GeForce Go 7600 256MB 2,183 3DMarks
Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Xi 1526 (1.66 Core Duo, nVidia 7600Go 256 MB) 2,144 3DMarks
Samsung X60plus (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7200, ATI X1700 256MB) 1,831 3DMarks
Asus A6J (1.83GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 128MB) 1,819 3DMarks
HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400) 827 3DMarks

HDTune results:


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Input and Output Ports

The port selection on the R500 is quite good for a 15.4" notebook in this price range. The inclusion of HDMI out for high definition video output, three USB 2.0 ports, Firewire, card reader and PC Card slot mean most users will have every port they need for day-to-day use.


Left side view with heat vent, VGA out, USB port, and PC Card slot.(view large image)


Front view with 5-in-1 memory card reader in the center under the front edge. (view large image)


Right side view with Firewire, headphone out, microphone in, audio out, optical drive, two USB ports and security lock slot. (view large image)


Rear view with HDMI and S-video out, battery, modem, Ethernet and DC power jack. (view large image)

Audio

The built-in speakers on the R500 are better than some built-in speakers but lacked the full range and bass that can be heard in notebooks with built-in subwoofers. That said, the R500 benefits from virtual surround sound via "SRS WOW HD" and "SRS TruSurround XT." These software-based virtual surround sound audio engines help turn the "tin can" sound from the R500 into reasonably loud and clear sound.

The SRS WOW HD setting actually made listening to music and DVD movies a reasonably enjoyable experience using the built-in speakers. Pressing the SRS button located next to the volume buttons switches between SRS WOW HD, SRS TruSurround XT and SRS Off. Personally, I couldn’t tell the difference between SRS Off and SRS TruSurround XT.

Heat and Noise

The R500 does a spectacular job controlling both heat and noise. The fan remained whisper quiet yet kept heat under control. The areas near both the memory and hard drive (left palm rest) did feel warm during benchmarking, but temperatures remained comfortable enough to keep the R500 on the lap. The ambient temperature in our office was 77 degrees Fahrenheit during testing and the fan exhaust temperature never jumped above 101 degrees. The most heat came from the AC adapter which averaged around 102 degrees Fahrenheit.


The top view with Fahrenheit temperature readings.
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The bottom view with Fahrenheit temperature readings.
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Battery

Battery life on the R500 with the 6-cell battery was only average. With the screen brightness set to full, wireless on, and Vista power settings set to "High Performance," the R500 powered down in just more two and a half hours (2 hours and 33 minutes). With power management set to "Power Saver" and screen at half brightness the battery lasted 3 hours and 4 minutes while browsing the web.

Conclusion

The LG R500 is a solid business notebook with plenty of power for consumers interested in everyday gaming. The quality 15.4" glossy display, durable build, sizable hard drive, and a good selection of ports help make the R500 great for business professionals who don’t mind a little more weight than a 14.1" notebook. The Core 2 Duo processor, plenty of available RAM, and nVidia dedicated graphics likewise give the system an impressive feature set in terms of performance.

Bottom line, the LG R500 is an excellent notebook in the 15.4" display class for business professionals and consumers alike. Too bad we can’t buy this here in the United States.

Pros:

  • Excellent performance
  • Awesome screen
  • Solid construction
  • Minimal bloatware
  • Low heat and minimal noise

Cons:

  • Poor location for multi-card reader
  • Glossy "wave" pattern is beautiful or ugly depending on your point of view
  • Annoying blinking LED when you browse the internet.


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