LG’s latest offering from the tablet space, the Optimus Vu has hit the Indian market recently, and today, we’re taking a look at how the device spares when compared to its competitors. While Samsung has been enjoying the leadership in the unexpected phablet market, LG is the new kid in the block to showcase its capabilities with this device. With a 1,024 x 768 HD-IPS LCD display, a 1.5GHz processor, and some competing battery life, the device could actually be seen as a strong competitor for the Galaxy Note.
While I’m not a huge fan of the phablet concept, some of the folks here at The 4Cast liked it. They thought that the device can save a lot of money and also shrink the storage space to one single device instead of two separate devices. This was actually convincing to me while using this device. Again, as I said in the LG Optimus 4X HD and Optimus L5 reviews, LG is definitely trying to bridge the gap between the hardware and software with these devices. The Software on the Vu is pretty stable, but the future updates are still a question mark.
Ok. Let’s now take this device to a test, and see what LG has got for its customers with the LG Optimus Vu:
How beautiful are the Apple’s iPhone packaging? And haven’t you seen and got amazed by the way it has been crafted? Well, this is how LG has tried to do for the Optimus Vu’s packaging. The company has crafted the box of the device in a very beautiful way.
The real hardware:
The Optimus Vu’s design is the same as that of the other devices in the Optimus series, except for the fact that this devices fits comfortably in hands which are huge (really huge). The L-Style design is just brilliant and feels rigid in some ways, but as I’d shared my views about the plastic back, it looks a bit odd when compared to its competitors. But wait, there’s something I was awestruck when I opened the beautiful box and lifted the device. It was absolutely light when compared to its competitors and also when compared to its size. The device almost felt like its missing some huge component inside the case. I was actually impressed. The device weighs just 168g, and I think this is the competitive edge the Optimus Vu has got over the Samsung Galaxy Note.
While the weight of the device was impressive, there’s one more thing that the Optimus Vu has got to cut over the Galaxy Note. It is the thinness. The Vu is incredibly thin when compared to the Galaxy Note. Vu is just 8.5mm thin, which is still thinner than the phablets in the market.
Now, lets take a look at the usability for a while. The Vu is usable, but with both the hands. I was able to use it single handed in some cases where I had operations to perform only in one half of the screen, but then, I was sometimes afraid if I’d drop the phone. But then, in the beautiful box, in which the device comes packed, there’s a Stylus placed. While the stylus was helpful in a million ways to control this large device, there’s one thing that the Vu missed out. It is the place to have the stylus inside the device. In other words, the stylus slot. I think this is a huge drawback for the device. There’s actually a slot which comes with the device, but unfortunately, its only for an antenna which can be purchased as an add-on. Which I think many people would not think of getting one.
But wait. There’s one thing that overcomes the disadvantage of using this huge screen. Its the display’s hue and brilliant saturation quality. Over the years, LG has been brilliant in getting their displays correct in their devices. Let it be the TV or the smartphones. It’s a perfect fit from LG. The display is absolutely crisp and sharp. Let me keep this for the later part of the review.
On the sides:
If you’d got your hands-on with LG Optimus 4X HD or the Optimus L5, you’re already familiar with what’s on the sides of the device. Going forward, let’s assume that the device’s display is facing you. On the left, you’ve got…. Nothing notable, except for the micro-SIM slot. It is not so visible. But on the right, there’s a volume rocker. But if you’re searching for a dedicated Camera key, you’d be disappointed.
The top of the phone has actually got some notable slots. Let’s go from left to right. On the left (At the top of the device), you’ll find a deep hole. If you try to fit the stylus into it, its not going to happen. The slot is actually for the a retractable T-DMB antenna for Korean TV channels. After seeing this, one question that I wanted to ask LG was, why don’t you turn that up into a Stylus stand for the rest of the world? Now, next up is the QuickMemo’s dedicated hardware button at the top. This is the ONLY way you could fire up LG’s QuickMemo in the LG UI 3.0. Next up you’ll spot is the nice micro-USB port. The port has got an interesting cover to protect the dust from entering it, and it does look really good on the device. I’ve always wanted these for the slots on a smartphone. Including Apple’s iPhone. And finally, you have got a Sleep/Wake switch towards the right at the top.
The front of the device has got the gorgeous display, with a earpiece and a front facing camera, with a LG branding in it. Towards the bottom are the capacitive touch enabled control buttons. From left to right, its Back button, Home button, Multi-tasking button and the menu (Options) button.
Ok. Now, where’s the micro-SD Card slot? Well, its no more on this device. Just like any other LG device, if you’re trying to open the device up to insert your micro-SD card, you’ll probably end up breaking the device apart. LG has opted for a static 32GB storage rather than giving an option for the external SD card storage.
Bottomline: The device is light, thin and incredibly beautiful with its large gorgeous display. But all these would fit well in your hand, only if you’ve got a big, really big palm to hold it.
As I said earlier, LG has started to provide its customers with the best displays on the planet for the smartphones. I was impressed with the display and I felt that the Vu’s display was actually better than that of the Galaxy Note’s display. I will not actually complain on the display, and the images were crisp and the display does give you a feeling that its pretty near to the iPhone’s Retina Display. I give this a A+, when compared to its competitors.
LG has been trying to bridge the gap between the hardware and software with Android. And the Optimus Vu proves to be the same. With dedicated buttons for QuickMemo, LG’s UI 3.0 works just brilliant for this device. I also like the transaction effects that can be chosen when moving from one page to the other in the home screen. Its also worthy to mention about the innovative unlock feature that does not come close to the iOS’s slide to unlock concept. I’ve spoken a lot about software in the LG Optimus 4X HD review. The same ROM is running on the Optimus Vu, but with some tweaks to make it work better for the larger screen. For those apps that do not take advantage of the Vu’s large screen, LG has given an option to manually stretch the apps to fit the entire screen. But seriously, some of the apps looks really bad after doing this.
Talking about the usability of the UI, the LG UI 3.0 is pretty easy to use. But some of the features are pretty hard to find and they were not up front. The company has somehow tailored the UI to the hardware on which it runs on, giving more processing speed to the device.
Performance is where I think the Vu would win over the Galaxy Note. The device is faster than the 4X HD, and performed really good during our tests. There was no lag while working or even after enabling a lot of graphic intensive features that people might use day to day like the carousel effect while swiping between pages, and such.
While performance is not only about the processor, we also tested out the call quality with different signal strengths. The device was able to pick up calls even with a single point of signal. There were very less call drops throughout the tests and the sound quality was pretty good. There were some cases where the sound
The camera, as with the other Optimus devices, performs pretty good. But I would not call it an excellent camera, comparing it with the Gakaxy Note. One of the areas that I think LG has to work on seriously is the cameras for their smartphones. Even the devices carrying a 8 megapixel camera, produces pixelated images very easily. The flash is brilliant and does a decent job during photo shoots.
One of the major feature the device lacks is the dedicated camera button on the device. I remember the days where Android phone users used to mock at the iPhone users for not having a dedicated camera button, until it came out with iOS 5. But now, I think LG Optimus Vu would be criticized for the same. While the company can include a dedicated hardware button that’s placed in the crowded top part of the device, it should have been pretty easy for them to place a dedicated hardware button for the camera as well. But I don’t know if this was intentional. But this is a huge drawback for people expecting to take some quick single handed shots on the move.
There’s one another feature that can be used to take some single handed pictures. It’s the ‘Say Cheese’ feature, where the user will have to say ‘cheese’ to the device and it captures the snap for you. The low light pictures were pretty decent, and I think it performed well when compared to the Samsung Galaxy Note.
For teleconferencing and Google+ handouts, the device has got a 1.2 megapixel front camera, which is decent.
This is probably the boldest move LG has done to bring its devices to the size crazy customers. And as they expected, they’ve won is some cases and have lost in some cases with this device. If you’re one of those looking to get s smartphone + tablet, and if you’ve got big palms, this device has been crafted for you. But if you’ve got a small palm, and use the device mostly with one single hand, opt for a 4-inch device.
LG clearly wins with the ROM it has cooked for the devices. And also the display and battery life. I was surprised to see that the batter life on Vu was more than what Optimus 4X HD produced.
The 4Cast Score: 7