LG Optimus Pad review
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26 August 2011 – One of the more exciting devices from MWC 2011, the LG Optimus Pad, has finally decided to grace our office. LG touted it as a tablet that will challenge the iPad and that that the focus of the device will be productivity and that people will be able to edit video, among other advanced activities. So is it able to topple Apple’s tablet? Let’s take a look.
At a glance
+ 3D video cameras
+ Snappy Performance
- Non-native 3D screen
- Only does 3D recording
In the box
LG Optimus Pad
Exterior, Controls and Screen
As one of the few 8.9-inch tablets out there, the Optimus Pad looks like an elongated novel and is turned into a widescreen when held in landscape. It is 12.7mm thick and weighs 621g, which is slightly heavier and thicker than the WiFi + 3G iPad. The front of the device is an 8.9-inch slate covered with black plastics, the back is covered in matte brown material and we liked the grip it offered, which is handy if we were operating it with one hand.
Speaking of grip, the tablet feels more intuitive when held in portrait to type as the elongated landscape design makes it difficult for our thumbs to reach into the middle of keyboard. Then as our webpage finishes its loading, we turn in horizontally to read webpages.
The 8.9-inch LCD screen displays 768 x 1280 pixels, and appeared bright and sharp. The viewing experience was enjoyable. When in landscape, the 15:9 ratio of the screen should ensure most movies push all the way to the edge of the screen, which should satisfy movie junkies who hate black edges on their flicks.
But the screen does not natively support 3D, and will require 3D glasses (which will come with the retail package) or an HDMI-output to a 3D TV to enjoy your recorded videos.
The screen is surrounded by a black bezel, which holds the Optimus Pad’s front facing camera. When held in portrait, the tablet’s volume rocker is located on its right spine. Meanwhile the microUSB and HDMI-out ports is located the left spine. On the top of the tablet, you will see the charging port, 3.5mm jack and the power/standby button.
Flip the tablet to the back, and you will be able to crack open the cover to insert a SIM-card for data. The dual cameras capable of 3D are here, and are separated by a metal plate.
And underneath all that, the Optimus Pad comes with a dual-core 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 processor with 1GB RAM. That translated into quick app launches, smooth multitasking, and our 720p videos played without lag. There is 32GB Internal storage but no expandable storage capability.
Software, Applications and Games
Equipped with the Android 3.0.1 (Gingerbread), you can expect a uniform Android experience across all tablets. There are still five customisable homescreens, and a long press on the homescreen (or tapping the plus sign) will bring up a host of widgets, app shortcuts, and wallpapers to modify your tablet with. At the bottom left of the screen there is a set of touch buttons – a back, a home and a multitasking button. Touching the Recent App button will immediately shows you five recent apps that you have used and you can quickly switch between apps.
On the right, there is the time, your signal strength and battery levels. Tap here and you will be able to access the settings page of your tablet. Honeycomb’s notification is designed to remain in the background, and will not bother you when you are running certain apps - when viewing full screen video from YouTube or Gallery, the touch buttons will hide themselves, only revealing small illuminated glows to remind you of their presence.
As far as productivity is concerned, the LG Optimus Pad is loaded with Polaris office, allowing you to create word documents, spreadsheets and presentations. As for working on it, placing it in landscape mode is a very standard typing experience – it works but it will not be the most comfortable way to type. But typing in portrait mode with our thumbs is possible as we are able to use the tablet like an oversized smartphone.
Camera, Video and Audio
Arguably the tablet’s most exciting prospect is its 3D video recorder, and the Optimus Pad records with its dual 5-megapixel camera to produce 3D videos. Granted you will have to brave a few uncomfortable stares when recording but that comes with the tablet territory.
The 3D recording seems legitimate, which you can fine tune the settings to suit the type of device you are viewing your recorded 3D on. Mixed is used for glasses-less 3D TVs, and anaglyph recording points to the red and green images that will require glasses to view right on the tablets screen. There are additional options to record in side-by-side or with a single camera.
LG claims that it records up to 720p video in 3D and 1080p in 2D. There are a few settings controls – there is white balance support, the ability to change the depth of field, and basic audio controls.
Sadly, the Optimus Pad is not able to take 3D still images. But you are able to take a standard photo, there is autofocus, and there are plenty of settings like flash, white balance and more. But we felt that the produced images were washed-out with white and there were plenty of noise in it.
There is also a front-facing 2-megapixel camera for vanity shots and video calls over data.
To clarify, this device is not capable of GSM calls, but does support a variety of data connectivity including HSDPA 10.2 Mbps, WiFi, GPRS and EDGE. With a SIM-card, you can turn the Optimus Pad into a WiFi hotspot for up to five devices. There is also Bluetooth 2.1 support.
The LG Optimus Pad is no hardware slouch – a dual-core processor, a large enjoyable screen and the 3D recording camera. It can stand toe to toe against most Android devices and put the iPad’s camera to shame. So if you are an amateur 3D filmmaker looking to make a few flicks, and won’t mind holding a tablet while doing so, we certainly think this is the device for you.
But for RM2199, if you aren’t keen on 3D recording or a mid-end imager, the device is maybe a little pricey if you compare it to Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 which has similar hardware and performance (at a lower price point). In portrait mode, it could act as a productivity tool, so there is that slight advantage. Additionally, the Honeycomb operating system feels generic and will operate no differently that the Motorola Xoom or the slew of other Honeycomb tablets out there.
Can the LG Optimus Pad beat Apple’s iPad? It is a tall order when the Optimus Pad plans to challenge Apple’s device with a pair of 3D recorders.
Conclusion: Built for the budding 3D moviemaker. Pricier compared to similar tablets.