LG Optimus Pad review
A solid tablet, but its 3D video features and slightly smaller size aren’t worth paying such a huge premium for
The tablet market is beginning to get rather crowded right now. The release of the iPad 2 was quickly followed by Android 3 offerings from Motorola, Acer and Asus, then BlackBerry and HP pitched in with proprietary offerings, and recently Samsung has lit the blue touchpaper with its excellent, yet temporarily banned, Galaxy Tab 10.1.
LG looks to be coming to the party pretty late with the Optimus Pad, and so has a couple of special tricks up its sleeve with which to woo potential customers. Its first unusual feature is its size – with its 8.9in 1,280 x 768 screen, the Optimus Pad sits entirely on its own, with every other manufacturer on the market producing either 7in or 10in models at the moment.
For our money, it’s a reasonable compromise between the two, but not without its problems. On the plus side, it’s a little more portable than most 10in tablets, and thus better suited to reading on the go. It’s more comfortable for browsing the web than a 7in tablet, too. The disappointments start with the thickness and weight. At 18mm its girth is more than double that of the iPad 2 and Galaxy Tab 10.1, and at 620g it’s heavier than both.
We’re not over-keen on the the extra-wide aspect ratio display, either, which makes it even less conducive to using in portrait mode than the 1,280 x 800 screen on models such as the Galaxy Tab and Asus Eee Pad Transformer. Finally, the tighter pixel pitch also means buttons and onscreen options are generally fiddlier to use too.
The other prong to LG’s unusual approach is 3D, and alas it’s just as hit and miss. As with its Optimus 3D smartphone, the Pad boasts a pair of beady eyes on its rear – two 5-megapixel digital cameras – and these allow the tablet to shoot video in stereoscopic 3D at 720p.
Unlike its smaller cousin, however, the pad has a standard TFT screen, so to view this footage you either have to hook the tablet up to a proper 3D-enabled TV via the tablet’s HDMI output, or don the red and blue anaglyph glasses provided in the box, and prepare for 1980s-style 3D.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the software integration is very light indeed. To shoot, browse and play 3D footage on the tablet itself you have to use separate applications to the standard Honeycomb ones, and within these there are no options to directly upload the footage to YouTube and share it with friends. You have to use the standard Honeycomb app for that.
Same old, same old?
Aside from the disappointing headline features, though, the LG Optimus Pad is a perfectly solid tablet. It appears to be well made – the soft plastic rear doesn’t creak or bend, and the finish makes it grippy and comfortable to hold. The display itself is bright and clear – we measured it at an iPad 2-beating maximum brightness of 398cd/m[sup]2[/sup] and a sound 622:1 contrast ratio.
|Price ex VAT||£625|
|Price inc VAT||£750|
|Features & Design||4|
|Value for Money||1|
|Dimensions||244 x 18 x 150mm (WDH)|
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,280|
|Resolution screen vertical||768|
|CPU frequency, MHz||1,000MHz|
|Camera megapixel rating||5.0mp|
|Built-in flash type||LED|
|Upstream USB ports||0|
|Mobile operating system||Android 3.0|
|Cheapest price on contract||£230|
|Contract monthly charge||£40.00|
|Contract period||24 months|