Logitech MX AirBook Review

by Reads (23,383)

by Jerry Jackson

Logitech has long been known for producing some of the best computer accessories on the market, so imagine our surprise when they sent us their all new notebook! This 12-inch form factor laptop features a traditional all-black design, a solid selection of ports, and is so light it makes the MacBook Air feel like a lead brick.


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Our review unit of the Logitech MX AirBook features the following specifications:

  • No Operating System included
  • DIY processor interface (you insert your own processor … even a desktop processor fits inside)
  • 12.1" 4:3 Display with 0 nits brightness
  • 0GB DDR2 System Memory (supports up to 400GB … or as much as you can fit inside)
  • DIY Graphics
  • Hard drive: No internal hard drive, indicator lights for three hard drives
  • Optical drive: None
  • Sound: "Silent Sound" mono speaker
  • Modem, 10/100 Ethernet, VGA out, serial port, docking station connector, USB, PC card slot, Logitech SuperDeluxe port
  • Integrated battery
  • Weight: 5.0 oz
  • Dimensions: 11.5" x 9.5" x 1.2"
  • Warranty: None
  • Price as configured: Unavailable at time of writing

Build and Design

The Logitech MX AirBook is visually unremarkable compared to most laptops currently on the market. The basic laptop structure remains similar to notebook designs from the late 1990s and this design choice gives the AirBook a conservative appeal that’s sure to make it popular among road warriors and average consumers who want to rebel against the trend of laptops with wacky designs. The choice of older 4:3 ratio display gives the AirBook a classic look not unlike a ThinkPad … minus the red trackpoint.


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Let’s face it, Logitech has a lot of name recognition in the computer accessory market, but they’re a newcomer to the world of notebook computers. Logitech needed something to make their first laptop stand out from the competition, and the design and build quality of the MX AirBook does just that. Logitech engineers made the daring decision to use non-traditional materials in the construction of the AirBook; using pulp fibrous material not entirely unlike cardboard for the main chassis. This material choice is radical, but it helps the AirBook tip the scale at a mere 5.0 oz.


0lbs 5.0 oz (view large image)

In that respect, I think it’s safe to say Logitech engineers did a fantastic job with the design and construction of the MX AirBook. Sure, you don’t want to accidentally step on this laptop or get it close to an open flame, but Logitech is now safe and secure with the claim that the MX AirBook is "the lightest notebook on the market."


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The AirBook lid does not have a latch to hold it closed. The low-profile hinge mechanism works well but doesn’t firmly hold the lid in place. There is also considerable flex to the screen. The entire chassis feels exceptionally vulnerable to collapse but there are no plastic creaks when squeezing the chassis.

Performance and Benchmarks

The MX AirBook is something of an enigma in terms of performance. Perhaps the best way to describe the performance of the MX AirBook is to say it’s a riddle, boxed inside and enigma, boxed inside a conundrum.

Without any processor, system RAM, or hard drive included in the base configuration, performance depends entirely on the consumer’s choices for upgrades. Logitech engineers made another innovative decision to allow consumers to put just about anything inside the MX AirBook. Intel or AMD processors, Crucial or Samsung RAM, Nvidia or ATI graphics, whatever hard drive you want. If it fits inside the MX AirBook, you’re good to go.

With the basics out of the way, let’s jump into the performance benchmarks.

wPrime is a program that forces the processor to do recursive mathematical calculations, the advantage of this program is that it is multi-threaded and can use both processor cores at once, thereby giving more accurate benchmarking measurements than Super Pi. (Lower numbers mean better performance.)

Notebook / CPU wPrime 32M time
Logitech MX AirBook NA
Lenovo IdeaPad Y510 (Core 2 Duo T5450 @ 1.66GHz) 50.184s
HP Pavilion dv6700t (Core 2 Duo T5450 @ 1.66GHz) 50.480s
Dell Inspiron 1525 (Core 2 Duo T7250 @ 2.0GHz) 43.569s
Dell XPS M1530 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz)
37.485s
Portable One SXS37 (Core 2 Duo T7250 @ 2.0GHz) 41.908s
Sony VAIO NR (Core 2 Duo T5250 @ 1.5GHz) 58.233s
Toshiba Tecra A9 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz) 38.343s
Toshiba Tecra M9 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz) 37.299s
HP Compaq 6910p (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2GHz) 40.965s
Sony VAIO TZ (Core 2 Duo U7600 @ 1.20GHz) 76.240s
Zepto 6024W (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2GHz) 42.385s
Lenovo T61 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz) 37.705s
Alienware M5750 (Core 2 Duo T7600 @ 2.33GHz) 38.327s
Hewlett Packard DV6000z (Turion X2 TL-60 @ 2.0GHz) 38.720s
Samsung Q70 (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2.0GHz) 42.218s
Acer Travelmate 8204WLMi (Core Duo T2500 @ 2.0GHz) 42.947s
Samsung X60plus (Core 2 Duo T7200 @ 2.0GHz) 44.922s
Zepto Znote 6224W (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2.0GHz) 45.788s
Samsung Q35 (Core 2 Duo T5600 @ 1.83GHz) 46.274s

 

3DMark06 comparison results for graphics performance (higher scores mean better performance):

Notebook 3DMark06 Score
Logitech MX AirBook NA
Lenovo IdeaPad Y510 (1.66GHz Intel T5450, Intel X3100) 543 3DMarks
HP Pavilion dv6700t (1.66GHz Intel T5450, Nvidia 8400M GS 256MB) 1,556 3DMarks
Dell Inspiron 1525 (2.0GHz Intel T7250, Intel X3100) 545 3DMarks
Sony VAIO NR (1.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5250, Intel X3100) 504 3DMarks
Dell XPS M1530 (2.20GHz Intel T7500, Nvidia 8600M GT 256MB) 4,332 3DMarks
Dell Inspiron 1520 (2.0GHz Intel T7300, NVIDIA 8600M GT) 2,905 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 (1.66GHz 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

PCMark05 measures overall notebook performance (higher scores mean better performance):

Notebook PCMark05 Score
Logitech MX AirBook NA
Lenovo IdeaPad Y510 (1.66GHz Intel T5450, Intel X3100) 3,749 PCMarks
HP Pavilion dv6700t (1.66GHz Intel T5450, Nvidia 8400M GS 256MB) 3,386 PCMarks
Dell Inspiron 1525 (2.0GHz Intel T7250, Intel X3100) 4,149 PCMarks
Dell XPS M1530 (2.20GHz Intel T7500, Nvidia 8600M GT 256MB) 5,412 PCMarks
Dell Inspiron 1520 (2.0GHz Intel T7300, NVIDIA 8600M GT) 4,616 PCMarks
Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS) 4,591 PCMarks
Sony VAIO NR (1.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5250, Intel X3100) 3,283 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


HDTune results:


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Screen

The 12.1" matte screen on the MX AirBook isn’t ideal for HD video … or any video for that matter. Sure, it offers sharp contrast, and zero backlight bleed, but color and brightness were far from acceptable. I suppose that’s just a trade-off you have to live with in order to get a laptop that weighs only 5.0 oz.

On the bright side, the screen doesn’t suffer from "graininess" and both the straight-on and horizontal viewing angles were excellent. The screen itself didn’t suffer from ripples when pressure was applied to the screen surface.


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Keyboard, Touchpad and Other Input Buttons

The full-sized keyboard on the MX AirBook suffers from considerable flex. Regardless of whether you’re typing on the edge of the keyboard or the middle, there is so much flex to the keyboard that it feels as if you’re typing on a cardboard trampoline. The keys have excellent cushion and were quiet during use. Unfortunately, in order to reduce production cost Logitech decided to manufacture the MX AirBook without any text printed on the keys. If you are familiar with the standard QWERTY style keyboard you will do just fine, but typists who need to look at the keyboard will have trouble finding the right keys.


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The touchpad is nice and large and features a durable surface that is also covered in the same matte finish as the rest of the notebook chassis. Unfortunately, the touchpad just isn’t very responsive. Regardless of how much pressure I applied to the touchpad I was unable to get the cursor to move from it’s location on the screen. The touchpad buttons have very shallow feedback and produce quiet clicks. As mentioned previously, there’s no ThinkPad pointing stick on this notebook, however, there are two extra touchpad buttons located above the touchpad … which seems odd without a pointing stick.


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Although the MX AirBook lacks internal hard drives, the laptop features three indicator lights for up to three hard drives. Two of these green indicator LED backlights are always on but aren’t annoyingly bright even in the dark.


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Input and Output Ports

There is a reasonable selection of ports on the MX AirBook with just about every port the average consumer is likely to need (or want) on a 12-inch notebook. The complete list of ports includes:

  • PC card slot (also supports ExpressCard/54 and /34)
  • one USB 2.0
  • Microphone in
  • Headphone out
  • Enlarged RJ-11 (modem)
  • Enlarged RJ-45 (LAN/Ethernet)
  • VGA out
  • Serial port
  • Logitech SuperDeluxe port
  • Docking station connector

Let’s take a quick tour around the port offerings of the MX AirBook:

Front side: No ports on this side of the notebook.

Back side: Power jack, serial port, docking station connector, VGA out, and Ethernet.


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Left side: modem, USB 2.0 port, Logitech SuperDeluxe port, PC Card/ExpressCard slot, microphone in, headphone out.


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Right side: Security lock slot.


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Although it’s somewhat sad to see there is only one USB port on the MX AirBook we were glad to see a docking station connector and serial port. Likewise, we’re glad to see the all new proprietary Logitech SuperDeluxe port, but we don’t know exactly what it does.

We were a little confused by the use of Ethernet and Modem ports that appear to be larger than the standard size. We’re not exactly sure where to locate adapters to use standard RJ-11 and RJ-45 plugs with this notebook, but you will need some type of adapters if you want to plug your wired internet connection into this laptop.

Audio

The built-in "Silent Sound" mono speaker was far from impressive. To be fair, I’d have to say the built-in speakers on the MX AirBook had less distortion than the mono speaker on the MacBook Air, but audio playback was at such a low volume that I really couldn’t hear anything. While most built-in speakers fail to produce a full range of high, middle, and low frequencies, the mono speaker on the MX AirBook simply failed to produce any range.

There is, of course, a headphone jack located on the left side of the notebook for people who like to plug in earbuds or external speakers. Again, there was no noticeable distortion from the headphone jack.

Heat and Noise

The MX AirBook runs extremely quiet and cool to the touch. The entire notebook is passively cooled so there is no noisy fan. We were also greatly impressed by the notebook’s ability to stay cool even after a full day of use. In our office with a average temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit, the MX AirBook barely registered any heat increase. We actually had to set it on another notebook so it would warm up for our temperature readings.

Below are images with the temperature readings listed in degrees Fahrenheit:


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Battery

The MX AirBook utilizes an integrated low-profile battery which isn’t replaceable. While we weren’t too happy about this type of feature on the MacBook Air, Logitech has done an absolutely fabulous job with power management on the MX AirBook. Despite the notebook being in constantly powered up with two LED indicator lights on and a cursor on the screen set to max brightness, the MX AirBook still maintained a 100 percent battery charge after more than one month in our office! We’ve started to call this battery technology the "eternal battery."


Conclusion

The Logitech MX AirBook is an innovative notebook with some amazing features that make it one of the most interesting notebooks we’ve ever reviewed on this website. Logitech couldn’t have made a more controversial laptop than this. The thin chassis construction, though light weight, means the MX AirBook can’t handle the typical amount of abuse most laptops can endure. The absence of a processor, RAM, graphics card, hard drive, and optical drive make this a useless laptop straight out of the box.

Sure, we would have liked to see an HDMI port and more USB ports. But the lack of these features is hardly a deal breaker for most consumers. In fact, the only "serious" negative issue with the new MX AirBook is the overly dark screen and lack of performance out of the box. It’s one thing to give consumers choices in terms of available configurations, but it’s something else when there isn’t even an available configuration.

In the end, if you can live with the dark screen and the DIY system configuration then the Logitech MX AirBook is one of the best 12-inch notebooks currently available.

Pros

  • The lightest notebook on the market!
  • Innovative construction material
  • No backlight bleed on the display
  • Easy-access internals for expansion
  • Eternal battery life

Cons

  • No system internals
  • Dark display
  • Slow cursor response
  • No text on keyboard
  • Non-standard port sizes
  • Very flammable

 

Disclaimer

In case you haven’t figured it out by this point, the "Logitech MX AirBook" is not a real product. This cardboard laptop was sent to us last year by Logitech when they released their new line of laptop cases. The laptop-shaped box contained all of the press materials and we couldn’t resist writing a full review of this "laptop."

You might not be able to fit the Logitech MX AirBook inside an envelope, but you can fit an envelope inside the MX AirBook:


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APRIL FOOLS!


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