When TechCentral reviewed LG Electronics’ Optimus Black earlier this year, we were rather impressed with its slim profile, great feature set and reasonable price. So, it was with some excitement that we unboxed its latest relation, the 3D Optimus. Unfortunately, everything we liked about the Black is missing from the 3D, and it includes additional headaches — of both the metaphorical and literal kind.
Glassless 3D is great the first time you see it. On Nintendo’s 3DS handheld gaming console, the implementation is impressive. But like most uses of 3D, the novelty wears off pretty quickly. The same is true of the 3D Optimus, except the implementation isn’t nearly as good.
The viewing angles for the 3D functionality are excruciatingly narrow and there are noticeable halos around objects rendered in 3D. There’s also ghosting — perceptible trails due to insufficient refresh rates — during animations. Moreover, everyone we showed the 3D Optimus to said it made their eyes hurt.
In its defence, the handset doesn’t default to a 3D interface but instead has 3D applications like games and the ability to take and view 3D images and videos with the “stereoscopic” dual lens camera on the rear.
There’s also a menu item called “3D Space” that collects the phone’s 3D options and presents them as a 3D carousel. But this just reinforces the novelty of the feature – it by no means contributes to the user experience nor is it in any way integral to the device.
The cost of this functionality, meanwhile, is that the 3D Optimus is big. And it’s heavy. The two rear cameras and the larger battery needed for the 3D functionality are doubtless to blame, and the 4,3-inch, 480×800-pixel capacitive display surely doesn’t help.
The large screen is great, but at about 12mm thick the handset feels bulky, particularly when compared to the Samsung Galaxy S II that has a screen with almost identical specs.
There are other problems with the 3D Optimus. For a start, it runs Android 2.2 out of the box (upgradeable to 2.3) and, although it’s still a capable operating system, it feels dated on a device like this that is evidently pitched at the high-end of the market.
Then there’s the lack of a microSD card in the box and a mere 8GB of on onboard storage, a frustration considering how well suited the 3D Optimus is to browsing text-heavy sites and consuming video.
One of the features we did like was the ability to create categories in the applications menu, and the option to close them with a pinch, turning what can become an enormous list of apps into a far more manageable handful of drop-down menus.
Another perk of the 3D Optimus is that, assuming you don’t use the 3D function too often — and trust us, unless your visual cortex is made of sterner stuff than ours, you won’t be — the battery life is great.
Beneath the novelty and foolishness of the 3D, and the fact that placed among its peers the 3D Optimus resembles a 7ft fat girl in a tracksuit at a fashion show, LG’s latest offering is actually a quite capable handset. It has everything you’d expect from an Android device of its class, along with a couple of LG’s pleasing and subtle tweaks.
The problem is, just as the tracksuited giant may have a lovely personality, many people simply aren’t going to take the time to find that out.
The LG 3D Optimus will set you back just over R6 000, including VAT, outside a contract. — Craig Wilson, TechCentral