LG Optimus Pad Review
You've already heard about the LG Optimus Pad – the first tablet with support for 3D with dual-lens camera and a pair of anaglyph glasses for tricking your brain into thinking about the third dimension, but will the 8.9-inch tablet's 3D trickery be enough to lure the Android Honeycomb tablet buyer into a purchase? LG claims that it's the elongated form and better overall ergonomics of the slate that give it a unique typing advantage as your fingers can reach every letter in portrait mode, but except for its weird tall body and 3D cameras we found it hard to differentiate this tablet among the onslaught of slates out there.
Sure, the Optimus Pad, known as the T-Mobile G-Slate in the States, has a pretty impressive 1GHz dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 chip running under the hood, but nowadays nearly every tablet has that horsepower. Moreover, it's not even close to winning in the slimness battle staged by Apple's iPad 2 and picked on by the Samsung Galaxy Tab in its 8.9-inch and 10.1-inch variety.
After the release of the iPad 2, it seems that tablet designers have started collectively singing the slimness mantra and rightfully so – apart from the wow effect of seeing something so thin, holding the load of a seven to ten inch slate in your hand is not fun and slimmer usually translates into lighter. Well, the LG Optimus Pad has certainly overlooked those trends as it's nearly 50% thicker than the iPad 2 at 0.47 inches (12mm) and despite it's smaller screen, it's heavier as well tipping the scales at 21.87 ounces (620 g) compared to the 21.2 oz (601 g) of the second-gen iPad.
But despite our disappointment with the tablet's dimensions and weight, we still appreciated the comfortable soft touch back and nice sloped edges contributing to a refined look. Moreover, LG has borrowed the curves and feel of the LG Optimus 2X bringing instant brand recognition for people who have used the phone. The solid build reassures you in the tablet's quality and even its substantial weight contributes to that feeling at first, but longer sessions (and we can imagine ourselves reading a book for hours) tend to tire the hand.
The 8.9-inch LCD screen on the Optimus Pad sports a peculiar resolution of 1280 x 768 justified by the prolonged body of the tablet. The aspect ratio is 15:9 – wide enough for watching movies, which is an area in which the tablet shines with its full HD video recording and playback. Colors are bright, reproduced accurately with excellent viewing angles, but disappointing sunlight legibility. The detailed resolution however actually helps with text legibility a great deal, alleviating browsing and reading along the way. The screen dominates the front side of the Optimus Pad, but neatly up top LG has placed a 2-megapixel front facing snapper and a proximity sensor.
The plastic sides of the device hold a microUSB and miniHDMI ports on the left (if you look at the tablet in portrait orientation), while on the right you have a mic and volume rocker. Tucked in the upper part is the lock key, which our fingers constantly struggled finding, but when they did it reacted with a light distinct response, so pressing it is not a problem. Slightly to the left are a speaker, a 3.5mm headset jack and a proprietary charger. Finally, the bottom of the tablet houses its stereo speakers.
The soft touch back is one of the accents of the Optimus Pad design attracting attention with a dual-camera setup for 3D capture. The 5-megapixel snappers are capable of full HD 1080p video capture in 2D and 720p video in 3D. The cameras are nearly an inch apart while a strip of brushed metal with a discretely engraved Google logo draws a line right in the middle of the tablet. While there is no easy way of changing the battery, the upper part of the back cover is actually removable so you can insert your SIM card for data or manually reset the tablet via a dedicated button.