LG announces worldwide availability for Tegra 3-equipped Optimus Vu phablet

Having been announced shortly before Mobile World Congress in February, LG’s Optimus Vu has kept largely under the radar, save for launches in Japan and South Korea, but a press release today details LG’s plans for a global launch of the 5″ 4:3 behemoth, with the company hoping to get to market before Samsung’s Galaxy Note II, which is set to be unveiled at IFA on August 29th. The aging dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S3 MSM8660 found in existing models is getting replaced by Nvidia’s Tegra 3 chip, as found in the HTC One X that we recently reviewed, although this means that the device will not support LTE in territories with such networks. The new Vu will ship with Android 4.0, replacing the old Gingerbread build of models past, but this will, as usual, be caked in LG’s customisations, including an upgraded version of QuickMemo™. While we may not be fans of phablets, those who are interested will be able to find the Optimus Vu in stores across Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East in September, but those Americans who desire the leaked Verizon LTE model will have to wait longer for official confirmation.

Press Release

LG ANNOUNCES GLOBAL AVAILABILITY OF OPTIMUS VU:

Largest LG Smartphone to Be Launched in Europe, Asia, Middle East/Africa and Latin America

SEOUL, Aug. 20, 2012 -– On the heels of its successful debut in Korea and Japan, the Optimus Vu: will make its global debut starting in select markets in Europe, Asia, Middle East/Africa and Latin America starting in September. With the world’s first 5-inch 4:3 aspect ratio display, the Optimus Vu: blurs the line between traditional tablets and smartphones for a truly unique smart device experience.

Since its March debut in Korea, the Optimus Vu: has sold over 500,000 units, demonstrating public acceptance of its form-factor. The reception the device received in Korea prompted LG to launch the Optimus Vu: in Japan this month, where it has also been received positively by Japanese consumers.

For the global roll-out, the Optimus Vu: will be equipped with NVIDIA® Tegra® 3 mobile processor, the super 4-PLUS-1™ quad-core with 5th battery-saver core, that offers a superb balance of performance and power requirements. 4 cores are used for high performance tasks such as games and multitasking. For voice call, email, music and video playback, only 5th battery-saver core is enabled and it consumes very less power.

When paired with the high-resolution 5-inch, 4:3 ratio IPS display, the Optimus Vu: becomes something special –- a device that’s both pocketable and spacious. The Optimus Vu: will come with an upgraded version of QuickMemo™ and Notebook, two features which make great use of the large display real estate.

“The different form factor makes Optimus Vu: unique even in the 5-inch smartphone category which we expect will catch on once they become more widely available,” said Dr. Jong-seok Park, president and CEO of LG Electronics Mobile Communications Company.

Key Specifications:

  • Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • 3G network
  • 5.0 inch 4:3 ratio XGA IPS display with 768 x 1024 pixels
  • 32GB memory
  • 8.0MP rear/1.3MP front cameras
  • 139.6 x 90.4 x 8.5mm
  • 168g

Via Engadget
Source LG Newsroom

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Qualcomm shows off cool Snapdragon chips by melting butter on smartphones

People love a benchmark, and Qualcomm has invented a new one that appears to favour their series of Snapdragon processors. In a video posted on their YouTube channel, Vidyasagar Rao, a staff engineer at the company, pits an HTC One S with a Snapdragon S4 MSM8260A chip against a Motorola Razr Maxx with a TI OMAP4430 and Samsung Galaxy S II sporting a Samsung Exynos 4 Dual chip in their new Butter benchmark test. It’s quite simple really. Butter melts at 35°C, so whichever phone runs coolest will keep the block of butter intact for the longest. We doubt this will catch on, but you can see the results by watching the video below.

App of the week: Dungeon Hunter 3

Well I never saw this coming – I have chosen an Android app of the week. If you have read some of my earlier articles, you will be as surprised as I am. The reason for this is that my mum got an award-winning Android tablet and, me being me, I had to play with it the second I came home from school and, having been using it for the last few hours I was inspired to do an Android AOTW. So here it is: This weeks Android AOTW it Dungeon Hunter 3.

This is the best android game I have played so far, but admittedly I haven’t played a lot, and I wish that it were available on more platforms. When you start playing the game, you have to chose between four different classes, each one with different strengths and weaknesses. I personally chose the warlord as I always chose the tank class, but you can also chose from the astromancer, trickster and the shaman. Once you choose your class you are then given a quick tutorial, showing you how to both play and upgrade you character. Once completed, you are then free to kill and maim to your hearts contempt.

The gameplay is very detailed, with each kill giving you both money and experience, slowly helping you to buy countless upgrades and items to help your character on their way to becoming invincible, but, for those more inpatient people out there, each level and mission comes with three additional goals that, when completed, give you a large boost to both gold and XP.  The game is easy to get the hang of, with the tutorial teaching you know all you need to know, but having played it for about two hours I can tell that completing it and fully upgrading your character is no mean feat. It will take countless hours of gameplay.

Dungeon Hunter 3, iOS and Android, Free
Download from Google Play or the App Store

The sorry state of Android updates

With Samsung’s announcement that Galaxy S II owners will not in fact be getting their Ice Cream Sandwich updates today as previously stated by one of their websites, the age-old discussion regarding Android updates, skinning and fragmentation has returned to the fore. Android 4.0, codenamed Ice Cream Sandwich and referred to as ICS, was confirmed on way back on October 15th of last year, the same day that this very website launched, yet now, almost 5 months later, only a small handful of devices from major manufacturers have either launched with or been updated to Google’s latest and greatest operating system. Why is this the case, and what can be done to help the situation?

Take a look at this graphic, taken from the Android website, which shows the versions of Android which have accessed the Android Market Google Play in the two weeks leading up to March 5th.

Just 1.6% of Android devices are running the latest version of the software. A comprehensive list of devices that have either shipped with or been officially updated to Ice Cream Sandwich is below. Please note that this does not include devices that have been announced but not shipped.

  • Archos G9
  • Asus Eee Pad Transformer
  • Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime
  • HTC Sensation
  • HTC Sensation XE
  • Motorola Xoom
  • Samsung Galaxy Nexus
  • Samsung Nexus S

Firstly, some of the blame has to be placed on Google. The OEMs do not get access to the source code until it is publicly released, with the exemption of the partner making the flagship Nexus device, such as Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus, announced alongside Ice Cream Sandwich at a press conference in Hong Kong last year. While Google should want the Nexus phones to succeed and have an advantage over other handsets on the market at the time of release, I believe that major manufacturers such as HTC, Sony, Samsung and Google’s own subsidiary Motorola should get early access to the source code, so that handsets and devices can get the latest software promptly after it is unleashed upon the world. It is wrong to go into a store at this stage and see just one device, the Galaxy Nexus, sporting up-to-date software.

We must never forget the manufacturers themselves, as they too delay updates for a number of reasons. Firstly, they already have your money and, as such, there is little benefit to them if they spend time and money preparing software updates for phones. This raises a whole load of questions regarding the state of customer service in the 21st century, but those are for another day. An example of this kind of neglect is Samsung, with the Galaxy S. Late last year, the Korean company confirmed that they would not update the phone, the second biggest selling Android device of all time, to Ice Cream Sandwich. Their excuse? TouchWiz and Ice Cream Sandwich can’t live together on the ROM. Why not just get rid of the crappy skin which users hate?

Of course, manufacturers feel that they have to stick their bloated skins on top of Android, and updates get delayed to ensure that this is the case. Take LG for example. At Mobile World Congress 2 weeks ago, they unveiled a host of new Android devices – the Optimus L3, Optimus L5, Optimus L7, Optimus 3D Max, Optimus 4X HD and the Optimus Vu phablet. Of these, half are scheduled to launch with Gingerbread, and only the L7, L5 and 4X HD are guaranteed to have Ice Cream Sandwich. As for the rest, LG issued a vague timeframe for updates of later this year. Considering that they have no plans to update their existing phones until Q2 or even Q3 at the earliest, I wouldn’t hold out much hope of this ever happening. If such an update actually does come, the community will probably have Jelly Bean stable on the handsets. LG’s excuse? A combination of the skin and the fact that they seemingly don’t care about consumers – a statement that can be applied to almost all Android manufacturers. This infographic, made last year by Michael DeGusta of The Understatement, shows just how slow these updates can be, especially compared to iOS.

Across the internet, I have seen people complaining about the update situation, only to be told to buy a Nexus phone and have all their problems solved, but this argument is ridiculously stupid. The beauty of Android is the wide variety of handsets, tailored to suit every need. To be told that, in order to be certain to get the latest software officially, you have to buy a certain device, takes away this beauty. If I wanted that kind of situation, where I no choice in form factor in exchange for a guarantee to get updates, I’d buy an iPhone. Take the Galaxy Nexus, for instance. At 4.65″, it is way too big for me. I think the design is horrible in comparison to some other smartphones, the rear camera is, for such a high-end device, sub-par for the course, and Samsung’s incessant use of flimsy plastics mean that I would never even consider buying one. If I want to get an Android phone with almost a guarantee of an update however, I have no other choice. This is not on.

Even if I were to jump on the Nexus bandwagon, I still wouldn’t be 100% certain of updates. Certain Nexus S owners are still waiting for Google and carriers to push the ICS update to their devices, even though most GSM variants of the phone got the update to 4.0 back in December. We must not forget the Nexus One either. The HTC device was Google’s first flagship and, despite the fact that the Android community can do it, Google has announced that they do not plan to push an ICS update to the handset which is still less than 2 years old.

So, until the day comes where updates are prompt and ensured, I will not buy an Android phone or tablet. I know that there are other ways of getting updates, but manufacturers and carriers should have a duty to ensure that devices are kept up-to-date for at least the standard contract length of 24 months. And finally, before you dismiss this whole post as pure trolling of Android, I am an Android user and I am still waiting for Gingerbread. If HTC doesn’t care about an 18 month old phone, why should I?

Samsung introduces Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 and Galaxy Beam with a projector and Gingerbread

Samsung, a company known for endlessly churning out devices that are nearly identical, have added 2 new devices to their Galaxy range to coincide with the start of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Firstly, we have the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1. Aside from the TouchWizzed Ice Cream Sandwich that comes pre-installed, the device seems identical to the original Tab 10.1, with a 1GHz dual-core CPU, a 1280 x 800 TFT display, a 7000mAh battery, a 3MP rear camera and 16 or 32GB of microSD-expandable storage. Strangely, the front camera has been bumped down to a VGA resolution from 2MP and the device is 9.7mm thick as opposed its svelte 8.6mm predecessor. Design wise, it appears closer to the Galaxy Tab 10.1N, the German variant designed to evade Apple lawsuits based on the design similarities of the Tab 10.1 and the iPad.

Whether we will see this at a lower price remains to be seen, but rumours persist that a 2560 x 1600 Galaxy Note 10.1 with a stylus S Pen will turn up later this week.

Secondly, we have the Galaxy Beam, a phone with a built-in pico projector capable of pumping out a 50″ high definition image. The phone allegedly has 6GB RAM, a 4″ WVGA screen, 8GB storage, a 1GHz dual-core chip and Android 2.3 for some odd reason. Knowing OEM updates, don’t buy this expecting Ice Cream Sandwich any time soon. A 5MP rear camera has a 1.3MP counterpart on the front, and the 2000mAh battery should keep the half-inch thick handset going throughout the day, providing you don’t use the battery-draining projector. Another thing that goes against the Galaxy Beam is the yellow rim. It’s almost as bad as BBC Sport.

LG unleashes the Optimus Vu phablet

Thought the Galaxy Note was ridiculous? LG may have now outdone them with the announcement of the Optimus Vu. This 5 inch phablet has less screen real estate than the Note, but the sheer amount of bezel and ridiculous 4:3 aspect ratio makes sure that it is in fact wider than Samsung’s offering. Sporting LTE and Gingerbread for its launch next month, the phone will receive Ice Cream Sandwich within the next 3 months. More news about it is set to come at Mobile World Congress at the end of the month, and the spec sheet is below for your perusal.

  • 139.6 x 90.4 x 8.5mm
  • Weight: 168g
  • 5-inch IPS 650 nit display at 1024×768
  • 8MP rear camera, 1.3MP front
  • 32GB storage
  • 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm processor
  • Android 2.3 Gingerbread
  • 2080 mAh battery
  • HDMI
  • DLNA
  • WiFi Direct