The so-called 3D television revolution seems to have largely passed consumers by. 3D technology in our living room feels gimmicky, gives us a headache and, above all, lacks content. 3D technology seems to have made a quantum leap from our big screen TVs to our smartphones. Since the screen is really small we are presented with glasses-free 3D. Is that little device in your pocket ready to go 3D or are you better off without the third dimension?
The LG Optimus 3D is aiming to answer the question.
Packaging and content
The LG Optimus 3D comes in a jazzy red rectangular box, the kind you wouldn't want to be seen with in public. This jazzy red box contains the unusually large smartphone, which at first glance looks as boring as a TV remote. The box also contains a pair of in-ear earphones, the micro USB cable that also doubles up as a charger.
Hardware and Styling
At first glance, the device has a candy bar form factor and is really big, almost as big as your hand. The screen is fairly large at 4.3-inches and covers most of the front. A shiny silver LG logo rests under the earpiece. Below the screen rest are four touch sensitive buttons. On the left of the device we have the micro USB port and the HDMI out port. The top has the 3.5mm headphones jack and the power/lock screen button. The right houses the volume rocker and the camera shutter button.
All-in-all, the device has curved edges and feels comfortable to hold but is very boring to look at. It feels a bit heavier than other devices too, weighing in at 168gms. You won't turn around and give the device a second look until you notice the two cameras resting at the rear of the device with 3D stereoscopic written next to it. Yes, the device houses two 5MP cameras with an LED flash and can shoot 2D still at a maximum resolution of 2592х194. In 3D mode however the device shoots stills at 3MP. The device also shoots video in 1080p at 30fps (2D) and 720p at 30fps (3D). The display is of course a 3D display, but doesn't work in 3D all the time. In fact, only a few specific features are enabled in 3D. The resolution of the screen too isn't very impressive at 480 x 800.
The rear of the device houses the memory card slot and the SIM card slot along with the1500mAh battery.
Under the hood, this beast is powered by a Dual-core 1GHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor, PowerVR SGX540 GPU and a TI OMAP4430 chipset. LG boasts that the processor is Tri-Dual Technology, which simply means a dual core processor, dual camera and dual channel memory.
The only advantage to the boring styling of the device is that it is ergonomically well built if you decide to use the device for long with its 3D features. This is because the device needs to be held at a particular angle for the glasses-free 3D to be effective.
If the device looks boring then the interface is Boring with a capital B. Boot up the device and the first thing that will disappoint you is that it runs on Android 2.2 and not 2.3. The device will be upgradable to 2.3. Like all Android devices, the LG Optimus 3D is heavily skinned. You simply slide up the screen to unlock it and are greeted by 7 home screens that you can flood with app shortcuts and widgets as per your preferences.
The drag down menu has the music player controls and the power controls that can be accessed with ease.
The bottom of the home screen has four buttons that cannot be customized i.e. phone, contact, message and application. The application-listing tab too is divided into three sections, the 3D apps, apps, and downloaded apps. The four touch sensitive buttons bellow the display are standard Android - menu, home, back and search.
The 3D interface on the other hand is a different ball game all together. All the 3D content can be accessed from the "3D space" app. This app gives you access to 3D games, the 3D camera, 3D Gallery, YouTube 3D and the 3D Guide.
The 3D interface of the device is really good and adds to the feeling of depth perception but at the same time also feels gimmicky. Hold the device at a particular angle and you will have the best 3D viewing experience without glasses on a mobile device. But shift in your seat and that experience is translated into blurry images that will give you an instant headache.
A good addition to the device is that you can not only view 3D content on it but also stream it to your 3D enabled TV via HDMI or DLNA.
With the exception of 3D, the overall interface of the apps, and the skinned Android 2.2 on the LG Optimus 3D is a lackluster experience. If you are looking for a more dynamic Android experience, consider the recently launched HTC EVO 3D.
Multimedia (3D as well)
The overall multimedia experience on the LG Optimus 3D is the same as on any other Android 2.2 device with the only addition being the 4.3-inch screen. Although the resolution could have been better, the 480 x 800 resolution display gets the job done pretty well. Apps look good, pictures and videos look vibrant.
In terms of the on-board apps, you get the usual mix of music and video player along with LG's Social+ social networking app. Nothing ground breaking here.
The 3D space is where the device truly excels. Sure there is lack of content and what you do get needs to be viewed at a specific angle, but whatever the device delivers, it delivers well. It does well in adding depth to the content you are viewing. It does well in giving you the illusion that stuff is popping out of the screen at you. And it does exceptionally well at giving you a headache if you get into the 3D content for too long.
The device comes preloaded with 4 3D games - Lets golf, Asphalt, Nova and Gulliver's Travels. The games give you the ability to control the level of 3D via a toggle. But naturally while playing, you are bound to move the device quite a bit jarring the 3D image and screen and inevitably ending up giving you - you guessed it, a headache. You can view, shoot and share your 3D content on YouTube 3D which is a nice addition. The content library on YouTube 3D isn't much and you'd get bored of it pretty quickly.
The on-board camera on the device does what it does well. But in 2D mode, a 5MP camera on such an expensive device seems a bit of a letdown especially since smartphones in the same price bracket offer you an 8MP shooter. The images produced in 2D are crisp, clear and even vibrant if the lighting conditions are good. But if you decide to rely on the on-board flash, you will end up with average photos.
The same can be said for 3D. In broad daylight you get good results and the images do add a feeling of depth perception. At night however, the results are bad.
The 3D video recording is surprisingly good. Videos in 720p HD in 3D look good on the device. Keep the device steady while shooting and you could get some great video from the device.
PC Sync & Market
Since this is an Android phone, syncing all your contacts is as simple as entering your Gmail, Facebook and Twitter accounts and the device is ready to use under 10 minutes.
The availability of a variety of paid and free apps in the Android market place ensure you never run out of fun things to do, but sadly there is nothing there to add value to the 3D capabilities of the device.
LG has also added its own LG World, which is an additional app store to the Android market. It houses apps and LG specific content like games. Although the noteworthy thing here must be that there is very little 3D specific content.
Apart from all the flashy multimedia, 3D and Internet capabilities, the phone needs to be able to make calls and send messages. In terms of call quality, the audio from the earpiece is loud, clear and well audible. The microphone too works well and even in a low network situation the conversation was smooth.
The preloaded keyboard is a standard QWERTY and same as the one you'd find on the LG Optimus 2X. The typing experience on the touch screen keyboard is great. The keys are well spaced out on the large screen and errors during typing were minimal.
Another advantage on the device was that web pages rendered rather fast along with full flash support. Websites with heavy flash integration opened well but scrolling, zooming and navigating these pages felt a bit sluggish.
Despite being a dual core processor smartphone with 512MB RAM, the devices performance felt a bit underwhelming under 3D use. The battery was drained in a matter of hours if you just play around with the 3D functionality.
If you keep 3D use to a minimal, you could get one day's battery life from the device.
Another problem with the device was that it heated up really fast. Leave it to charge for half an hour, and receive/make a call immediately after that and you will realize how hot the earpiece has become.
The in-ear earphones provided with the device are great for making calls. The audio is really loud and the mic picks up the voice very well. It is however horrible for listening to music. The headphones lack bass, but the midrange and vocals sound good.
There are just two 3D smartphones available in the market today - the LG Optimus 3D and the HTC EVO 3D. In terms of ergonomic looks, UI and style, you are better off with the HTC. The 3D performance is however better on the LG. The depth perception, viewing angle and pictures taken in 3D look much better on the LG Optimus 3D.
Overall, it's hard to recommend either of the devices as 3D is still gimmicky on the small screen, lacks content and above all, there is very little 3D usability on the phone. For the most part, your everyday activities are in 2D.
For a price of Rs. 37,000, you are better of picking up the highest end Android smartphone from any manufacturer or an iPhone.
3D performance is good
Good build quality
Lack of 3D content
Dull looks and LG skin
Battery life is poor
Ease of Setup: 4
Wow Factor: 2