- Category: Gadget Reviews
- Published on Monday, 30 July 2012 05:14
- Written by Ajay
The LG Optimus Vu is a halfway between a phone and a tablet, as like Samsung’s Galaxy Note phablet got some unexpected popularity in the markets. The device is priced at $866 (unlocked). It should go without saying: this 5-inch not a smartphone, not yet a tablet.
Vu isn’t launching attack on all fronts yet, it Korea only affair for now. It runs on Android Gingerbread, it got some unusual mix of internals: a 1,024*768 HD-IPS display, dual-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon Processor, 32GB non-expandable storage, a 2,080mAh battery, and a region-specific T-DMB TV tuner. Is this enough to dethrone the current phablet wonders? Read the review
The LG Optimus Vu comes in a small box with manuals; it got a compact charger, the micro-USB cable used both for charging and data transfers, NFC stickers and a bed for the chunky stylus, a single-piece headset with in-ear plugs and a SIM removal tool. The device measures 139.6*90.4*8.5 mm – it’s a big device weighs 168g and it’s not too heavy (its competitor Galaxy Note weighs 178g). It is also considerably thinner0.33-inch, the Vu claims a bit more in-hand. You either possess the Hulk-sized paws necessary to cling to this phone or you don't. If you're in the latter camp, you probably shouldn't be eyeing phablets in the first place. It requires a full manual cooperation to function properly. The included Rubberdium stylus has enough girth to confer a natural hold, but we would've much preferred a slimmer accessory if it could've been conveniently tucked away. If you intend to make heavy use of it with you and find a secure place to stash it, the device actually gives users a reason to forgo that accessory completely. The Galaxy Note is taller in two of them but the Vu manages a 5.5-inches screen (Galaxy Note only 5.3-inches), but the generous bezel surrounding its screen contributes to a large and more unwieldy design.
On the right side it got some physical buttons – only disappointment is there is no dedicated camera button. It got a two button volume rocker, and access to micro-SIM slot is hidden on the opposite edge and requires the use of pin or pointed object to open it. There is no micro SD slot to expand the storage, but comes with a 32GB of internal storage. It got a 3.5mm head phone jack on the left, secondary mic, function button for stylus use, a sliding port of micro-USB, power button and finally a T-DMB antenna for Korean TV broadcast. The front face is got a 1.3MP camera and capacitive buttons.
Vu’s got a non-removable plastic back benefits on deeper grooving and rough surface. The backplate tends towards the smooth and slick as opposed to a frictional grip. It got an 8MP camera shooter on the back and single Led flash on the upper left, a large 4G LTE label located on the midway and company’s LG logo on few inches below and two slits for speaker grill on its left. It runs on Gingerbread with a splashy, galactic start-up animation. The device wonderful 1,024*768 HD-IPS display screen could have been even better, were it not for that 4:3 aspect ratio. The viewing angles are solid, makes content easily readable from all angles. It comes with a rubberdium, it’s somewhat different from the standard stylus, it adds a bit of a pen-like drag when you write with it and it is solid and comfortable to hold. It got a Quick Clip button on the top, pressing it takes you into memo mode, so you can draw on the screen grab you just captured. It packs a dual-core 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S3 Processor and 1GB of RAM, its running smooth.
Here is the full specs of LG Optimus VU
Vu comes with an 8MP rear camera with autofocus and LED flash and a 1.3MP front-facing shooter. The quality of pictures we have taken from that is pretty decent, and we have seen more detailed images from the top camera phones, the colors look okay if not a bit overblown and during the daytime pictures turned out nice. In indoor and lowlight pictures it is somewhat not pretty well. The front camera compensates the lack of quality with a fun effect that air brushes your face.
The video captured at 1080p with 30 fps with continuous auto focus on rear camera and makes out at 720p for front camera, the camera moves relatively steady with rare dropped frame. The custom camera app includes most of the settings; the ability to adjust the scene modes, resolution, and ISO, add filters and takes burst or panorama shots. You can tap to focus, but actually to trigger the shutter you need to press the on screen camera key. So it got a camera with wonderful camera for shooting pictures, but not really good for the video.
Optmius Vu hides Android 2.3 Gingerbread beneath its colourful custom skin. It will be missing out the Ice cream sandwich enhancements. An ICS update is in the pipeline for the Vu. Vu using a custom lock screen instead of stock Android variety, it offers clocks with two timezones, visible battery charge info, and a shortcut for dialer. It also got the Weather info, stock info, and a news widget, anything to fill up all that real estate. It got the ability to pull down the notification area to check new notifications are one of the things of Ice Cream Sandwich that Vu misses out. It got a customizable dock and app drawer, power controls in pull down notification tray. It got an adjustable time out for the front LED keys, power saving settings and optional aspect ratio correction for apps.
NFC with LG Tag+
LG’s taking the similar track of Samsung and Sony for NFC and taking a similar track with Tag+. These two are bundled with the device, lie sealed in the protective cover, to keep them free from outside interface. Both come pre-programmed – one for –office mode, the other one for car. You can change the NFC Tag+ app that comes pre-installed for the device; in additional to these they have got Sleep and User modes. LG’s separated plain – Jane NFC app from its own Tag+ app. There is not much difference between the two, given that the proper app has option to trigger the Tag+ settings, it makes for odd and disjointed experience. NFC app, users can also assign tags with corresponding contact info, URLs notes, call requests, texts, and even calendar events. You can overwrite the two stickers.
LG buried the pen settings within the software presents an obstacle to wider user adoption. After navigating some sub-menus, you arrive at a screen where you can get a configuration options: delay time, pen width, pen color, screen transparency. Vu doesn’t incorporate a Wacom digitizer like that of its rival; it allows for pressure sensitivity and heightened precision. There is no way to navigate through the OS using just the pen. You continually have to interrupt your workflow and use a finger to select the Android capacitive buttons. If you want to input text, you can do it with any messaging application like email or text. It works similar to other devices – gesture back to delete, forward to space and hook back to the left to enter. The Notebook and Memo are the two apps in device that took advantage of the stylus. Notebook presents users with pre-existing templates, though you can opt to just start fresh. The Memo is self-explanatory and much more bare bones; it offers a range if templates, the app goes straight for the lined notebook look and takes hand-writing text input only. The recognition software is just slow to recognize more than one letter at a time without producing a slew of predictive errors. The LG got two more apps; one of them places the device into writing mode, snapping the shot of the screen’s contents. There is an option to disable the background and replace it with a yellow sticky-note backdrop. The LG’s crafted this as a shortcut, meant to bypass the lack of any function keys on the actual stylus. It’s always resulted in a mess of unintended triggers.
The device comes with a Qualcomm MSM8660 dual-core processor clocked at 1.5GHz, 1GB RAM and paired with an Adreno 220 GPU. It really got a smooth performance; got a good transition, no bad navigation, or even a delayed app launch; it all comes with fluid pace. When using the browser app; the desktop sites loaded at slow pace – over 30 seconds. On the opposite end of performance spectrum, pinch-to-zoom was smooth on the device, resizing the images and text with no loss in detail. There’s plenty of other connectivity features - Wi-Fi b/g/n with DLNA and Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 3.0+HS, NFC and MHL. LG is stingy on details for non-Korean versions of the Vu. There is a T-DMB tuner, it is only of interest to Korean users as it is not popular in other countries. SmartShare is an app that lets you control a DLNA network - you can play media from other devices (e.g. NAS) on your phone or play something from the phone onto another device (e.g. TV). The Wi-Fi Direct is a technology, which enables devices to connect to each other without the need for a Wi-Fi hotspot. The beauty of it is in that only one device has to be Wi-Fi Direct-ready for the magic to happen. Using this technology two (or up to eight) devices can share files in a more advanced, fast and secure way, paving the road to the eventual demise of Bluetooth for short-range file transfers. NFC is also on board in the form of a dedicated app called LG Tag+. With it you can create tags that enable Wi-Fi, GPS, control sound and so on. Just pick your setting, hit write on tag and tap the Optimus Vu on an empty tag.
The dual-core processor lets your browser to play 720p Flash videos but 1080p is quite difficult for them, a little bit too much for it. You can play optimized Flash games too. The battery inside the device is 2,080mAh; we couldn't properly test its endurance on a domestic HSPA+/LTE connection given the mix of radios inside. So, we checked it with the GPRS connection, and a home WiFi connection. After two and half an hours of light browsing lets the battery’s charge into half, with some conservative use, you should probably eke out a half a day of charge. When it comes to signal quality, we didn’t have issues with dropped calls and won't experience tight grip antenna problems with the device
For: Big Bright Screen, Nice HD-IPS Display, Wonderful Camera, Spacious Keyboard for Typing
Against: Bit Clunky to use, Still runs on Gingerbread, Stylus Integration, Stylus can’t be showed
Vu is a device that requires two hands to operate, it’s not a smartphone and it is a good experiment by LG and it’s a phablet. The Rubberdium in the device is good, but as we discussed you will become quickly frustrated by the stilled experience of having to switch between pen and finger to navigate the OS, as a true phablet this thing is really not good. It still runs Android Gingerbread, which is not as good as you may expect at least an Ice Cream Sandwich device. Most users likely won't find much fault with its speed and mostly fluid performance. Apart from their goodies like big screen, display, camera their competitor is still ahead. The Galaxy Note sold in millions, but the Vu probably won’t be matching that, but we are happy to see LG experiment their first phablet.
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