Samsung Galaxy Note. First Look
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Review of LG Optimus 2x (P990) GSM/UMTS. Part II
In this section we will concentrate on software of the handset, while another dedicated article deals with the performance. Yes, I mean a section in the latest Spillikins.
The model offers advanced gestures control not typical of its rivals. For example, in a menu with the text field you can tap on the side of the phone and the cursor will go into the input field. I do not know how to use this feature, as in all appropriate menus text fields are active by default. Icons in the standby mode are the whole different ball game. Choose an icon and incline a phone to get to the required window without browsing, which is useful.
When you turn the model around it disables the sound of a ringtone and alarm or pauses the video playback. In the gallery for a music player similar tapping moves you to another picture or track. It works simple and easy. I am not sure that many people will use the trick in everyday life, but the option is available.
Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR supports various profiles including Headset, Handsfree, Serial Port, Dial Up Networking, File Transfer, Object Push, Basic Printing, SIM Access and A2DP. Headsets operation is traditional and causes no problems.
USB connection. In the menu you can choose Mass Storage mode. In other instances it is required to use LG PC Suite with different options provided in this environment. The handset can be used as a modem too (USB/Bluetooth Tethering).
In USB Mass Storage mode the phone is detected without additional drivers and you can copy any data. USB 2 offers 4.5 Mbps for data transfer. USB connection triggers charging.
GSM networks use EDGE of class 12.
WiFi. 802.11 b/g/n is supported. The phone remembers selected networks and helps connecting to them. One touch router connection is enabled. Push the router button and activate a similar key in the phone menu (WPA SecureEasySetup).
SmartShare feature allows the use of DLNA (WiFi connection) standard with compatible devices and PCs to receive and send multimedia files. This option is a breeze.
HDMI. On the body you can find a miniHDMI jack, while in settings you can set the resolution of the video or leave the automatic detection option. Mirror Mode is available to watch video simultaneously on your TV and Optimus 2x. Motorola ATRIX 4G cannot offer a similar approach.
An 8 MP camera boasts a LED flash and autofocus. The camera is not ideally located. When you hold the phone with both hands fingers may block the camera lens or a part of a shooting field. The lens is easily soiled, but it does not impact the pictures quality.
Rich settings do not lead to high picture quality. Unfortunately, Android is not the best option for cameras. The quality is average at best and the image can be easily blurred unless you hold the phone really tight in your hands. It takes several seconds to save a picture, which is hardly a departure from other models. A dedicated camera button is absent and you have to use the screen for all related operations.
A х8 digital zoom barely influences the picture quality. Volume controls are used for zooming in or out. You can assess the zooming quality on screen shots below.
The number of settings is enough even for most demanding users. With one touch of a screen you can choose an object for camera focus. The flash works in red eyes suppression mode, can be activated at all times or be dependent on the environment. Face tracking or macro mode are supported. The following scenes are available - Portrait, Landscape, Sport, Dawn and Night. In the automatic mode the phone deals well with scenes and ISO selection (100, 200, 400 and 800 set manually).
Not many people will want to set a white balance, but it is possible. Shooting modes are more intriguing. Panorama shots are nice.
Continuous shooting is good for moving objects, cars and offers series of pictures to pick the best ones. Off the focus option has good resolution in the centre with blurred edges. It looks nice at times.
In Art shot mode we can choose between warm and cold colors for post processing. If a PC based editor is a nuisance go for a favorite variant in the phone. Any graphic processor will give you the same end product though.
There are also such modes as Smile Shot, Beauty Shot (skin is leveled and defects disappear), Stitch (vertical pictures) and Vivid for brighter colors, but some information is lost.
GPS tagging and picture stabilization are supported as well.
First look at shots in different conditions and compare them with pictures from HTC Desire. To my mind the quality is let down by processing algorithms and you end up with blurred shots, though it is not caused by the camera itself. Sadly, this camera does not break a new ground. Good shots can be get outdoors on a sunny day, but that's it.
A flash is powerful enough, which makes it difficult to achieve good quality on short distances.
Samples of photos:
Comparison with HTC Desire:
Video. In specifications one can notice 1080p video recording, but it is more of a marketing trick now. The familiar abbreviation may stand for any video quality, which depends not only on resolution, but the number of frames per second is crucial too. Despite powerful hardware LG brings nothing exceptional to the camera and 1080p gives you merely 24 fps (1980х1088). I think you would better scale down to 720p (1280х720) and get 30 fps. Conversely, there are no special video capabilities in the model. Video quality is enough for Optimus 2x screen, but a big PC monitor reveals artefacts. One microphone for sound recording makes for noisy sound tracks if it is windy or the environment is far from quiet. In samples you can get a taste of maximum resolution compared to 720p.
When the phone becomes available for consumers it will have Android 2.2, though several other handsets will boast 2.3. So far there is no information when the upgrade will be ready, but it should happen soon. LG must do their best to upgrade its flagship phone.
Traditionally, I will concentrate on LG peculiarities in the interface and additional apps together with any departure from standard Android features. All standard options are covered in a separate article.
The text input is carried out with the help of a QWERTY keypad from LG. It is convenient, but differs from Swype, which is bad. On the other hand, the text input has no serious hitches whatsoever.
The model has LG shell named Optimus UI 2.0, though it is not similar to Optimus Black (version 2.0 in that model has more options).
It's good news that the shell can be disabled if necessary, though I firmly believe it adds features to Android. For example, the main menu can be represented by a traditional icons list divided into categories you can customize or drag new icons into them. New apps are stored in Downloads located at the bottom of the screen.
Another icons display mode shows them as a list in the main menu. Icons are classified alphabetically (by apps names) with the slider on the right to move quickly to required sections.
Variant number three shows a horizontal bar with icons on one screen with redundant ones transferred to side windows. It is convenient and close to Apple menus despite all traditional virtues.
On standby widgets are represented not only by standard apps, but offer a proprietary LG approach. As always you can find here clocks, alarms, mail, radio and SMS access. These interesting widgets complement standard variants typical of Android smartphones.
The screen can be unblocked by a signature LG upward move. If you drag the status bar not only events and related information will be revealed, but the access to quick switch between WiFi, Bluetooth, mute mode, GPS and automated screen turnaround is provided.
In the phonebook contacts are offered to be stored in the phone by default. Not all fields coincide with traditional Google option and they can be lost at the time of synchronization. I think it was not necessary to invent a particular phonebook format, especially if you constantly synchronize with Google server. If you don't want to store data outside the phone then it is an ideal solution, but such users are quite rare these days.
In contacts you can search for people from your lists on Facebook and Twitter. They can be added to the address book. Apps for these social networks are tailored for LG. There is an intellectual search option, when only contacts from your phonebook are added.
In messages everything is predictable as you can see chunks of events. There are some issues here. For example, not all messages from short numbers or your carrier can be read. Some messages are delivered empty and I could not detect the reason of such behavior. Then I found irritating that you cannot call back from an SMS. I have an SMS alert for missed calls from the number of the caller. If you click on the number you will be offered to save it, but not to call back. It cannot be copied as well. You need another phone to call, which is extremely inconvenient.
As always you are offered numbers from the phonebook once you start dialing. Calls list is convenient courtesy of large fonts and the caller's number is clearly highlighted.
LG decided to increase the number of preinstalled apps. You have an antivirus F-Secure, which analyzes preinstalled apps, files and web pages. As far as viruses for mobile phones are not numerous this software will be appreciated by the cautious and sensitive.
FBReader deals with books in FB/FB2 format. This handy application is not available for all markets. Polaris Office allows viewing and editing MS Office files, which is a simple solution.
The video player supports DivX/Xvid with subtitles. Video playback offers decent quality and the picture looks well. If you go to another app the playback is paused, but can be resumed from the same place.
The music player was changed and from the very outset you see the performers list. Search by track or musician name. Horizontally you get Cover Art mode with alphabetical browsing. The player is pleasant to deal with and everything works just fine. Equalizers offer boosted volume for headphones among other things. Music playback quality is good and can be compared with that of an Apple iPod Touch. Look at the player screenshots. They will tell you more.
The standard mail client supports many mail boxes and has a joint Inbox. Surprisingly, at times the client declined to download messages from my corporate mailbox and signaled that the number of connection attempts was too high. It could have been caused by the unstable software.
Social networks clients are typical of Android, but offer integration with SNS from LG. Here lies the only difference.
Connection quality is above criticism, ringtones are loud, but the vibro can be missed at times. Impressive voice reproduction ensures appropriate communication between interlocutors. There is one annoying feature though, when a new SMS is accompanied with a loud alert even you contact can hear it. Hold the second line and you will get buzzing alarms during the first 20 seconds. I hope these drawbacks will be eliminated in future.
Do I like the model? I can give an affirmative answer, but careful examination can uncover several defects. For example, the screen is inferior to that of Samsung Galaxy S from 2010. Even modern Clear TFT screens are better. Nevertheless, the screen is rather good and only a head to head comparison can highlight the difference. SuperAMOLED Plus from Samsung Galaxy S2 is clearly better.
Nvidia Tegra2 is impressive and ushers in the lineup of SuperPhones according to Nvidia. At the same time the performance is not boosted sufficiently enough. The advantage is slightly more obvious in flash applications and pages download, but 3D games for tegra2 are not offered yet. In real life you will not feel the difference. When apps for Tegra2 become more popular the difference will be more prominent. It is still an open question when these applications will emerge and how popular they can be. Nvidia Tegra2 under the hood is a good PR opportunity, but not a competitive advantage. At the same time Optimus 2x has the fastest menu and interface on the market. It is never slow, but the speed boost is not dramatic.
I was clearly disappointed by the camera. I expected more, but we get a product similar to offerings from HTC. Resolution does not influence the quality and all manufacturers let us down these days.
You may think that by enumerating all serious or minor defects I rule out LG Optimus 2x as a successful model, but it is no so. Surprisingly, but I prefer it to Motorola ATRIX 4G for everyday use. As an owner of HTC Desire I confess that an LG model is faster. Software inside is not as good as in HTC Sense, but it beats Sony Ericsson Arc.
The main question is the price of the solution. €500 promised for selected European markets looks attractive as it brings in top performance, potential for new games and Tegra2 based apps. The price is lower than that of Galaxy S2. LG will appear in shops around March. Sony Ericsson Arc will hit the shelves at the same time and will have a similar fate. This niche product has different selling points like design and brand name. LG offers better technologies and hardware.
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Published 11 February 2011
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