LG confirms Vu 3, a square Galaxy phablet in disguise

LG Vu 3

The original Vu (and the Intuition, European Vu (with Tegra), Vu 2 and whatever else you want to call it) was stupid. With a horrible 4:3 aspect ratio that only makes sense on tablets and computers from the early 90’s, trying to use it was impossible. Even if your thumb could cope with the yoga involved to operate the thing, you’d remember that there’s not a single adequate Android device with a 4:3 aspect ratio and, of course, the apps would behave accordingly. That kind of ‘minor issue’ doesn’t ever stop LG, though, as the Vu 3 is official now with a 5.2″ 1280 x 960 IPS display and some other things that don’t matter whatsoever because that screen, now larger and more awkward than ever before, is now even more stupid. Also, it looks just like a mutilated Galaxy S III which, looking at the G2’s Galaxy S4-esque aesthetic, seems to be LG’s ‘thing’ now.

Source LG
Via Engadget

King Cheapo Nexus 4 receives substantial price cut to just £159 unlocked

Nexus 4

The Nexus 4 may be getting slightly long in the tooth now as it approaches its first birthday, but it’s still pretty powerful and boasting the very latest version of Android with continued prompt updates from Google. Our own Neil Thomas loved it when he reviewed it earlier this year, and now the phone – which was already mindblowingly cheap at launch – has received a price cut on Google’s Play Store, presumably in preparation for the impending release of its successor. The 8GB model, previously £239, is now just £159, and the 16GB variant, formerly £279, is now just £199. While neither variant sports LTE connectivity, there is absolutely no question that the best mid-market Android phone you could buy is now the best cheap Android phone the world has ever seen. Providing you’re willing to accept that there’s a new one pretty much right around the corner (and let’s face it, if that’s beyond you then you should avoid technology at all costs) then, like me, you’ll be sorely tempted.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some money to find.

Source Google Play

Digixav Podcast 016 – August 25th 2013

You may think that it’s been a slow news week, but our triad of podcasters can always spin an hour-long show out of any news, no matter how small. From golden flip phones and iPhones to LG’s latest tablet, coined Samsung Homeboy, Xavier, Henry and Chris take you on an excruciatingly musical journey past Steve Ballmer‘s potential replacements Chandrasekar Rathakrishnany and John Legere, Xavier’s review of Nokia’s Lumia 720 and olinguitos that play video games. It’s a fun ride, so join us for the trip.

Right click and save this link to download, and you can subscribe (and rate and review the show) using iTunes! Don’t fancy iTunes or use a different podcatcher? Here’s our RSS link!

If you have any feedback, questions or comments, tweet us or send us an email to podcast@digixav.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Digixav Podcast 015 – August 15th 2013

Remember the last time our trio of podcasters were all on the same show together? Neither do we, but today it happened. Like the reunionisation of the Wu-Tang Clan, Xavier, Henry and Chris join together to discuss copyright trolls, why Motorola should manufacture in Essex and keep the interns off Twitter, LG doing everything they can to be Samsung, synthetic burgers, Hyperloops, Samsung doing everything they can to be Samsung, Phoenix & R. Kelly, Ron Swanson’s stack of cows, Sony being Sony and more!

Right click and save this link to download, and you can subscribe (and rate and review the show) using iTunes! Don’t fancy iTunes or use a different podcatcher? Here’s our RSS link!

If you have any feedback, questions or comments, tweet us or send us an email to podcast@digixav.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Links

Signs of the third Vu-pocalypse appear as LG prepares to resurrect the square phablet

Optimus Vu

Remember LG’s ridiculous Optimus Vu, the 5″ phablet with a 4:3 1024 x 768 display? Or its international variant, which was one of the few devices to call itself a phone and carry a Tegra 3 processor? Or Verizon’s variant, dubbed Intuition, which could only muster a review score of 4.4 from The Verge? Or the Vu II, which took the original device and bumped the internal hardware up to appropriate levels for a 2012 flagship?

There’s a reason nobody (except me) remembers these things. It’s because they were horrible. And yet, LG just doesn’t know when to stop. Continue reading →

Digixav Podcast 012 – July 10th 2013

Twelve. That’s a mighty large number, and it’s also the number of topics in the show notes for our return from yet another unintentional hiatus. While Henry lies in a field getting fried by the British heatwave, Xavier and Chris take cover in the depths of the night to talk about Apple’s mobile product lines and web ambitions, imminent announcements from Nokia and Motorola, new devices from Sony and HTC that are scaring Xavier’s wallet and leaked information about upcoming phablets from the Korean pairing of LG and Samsung. Chris goes on to wax lyrical about rap music while Xavier enthuses about The Last of Us while finding it horribly difficult (yet completely possible) to avoid spoilers. We also answer some user questions from Twitter, thanks to our wonderful listeners and #AskChris, which we’ve chosen to hijack.

If you have any feedback, questions or comments, tweet us or send us an email to podcast@digixav.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Right click and save this link to download, and you can now subscribe (and rate and review the show) using iTunes! Don’t fancy iTunes or use a different podcatcher? Here’s our RSS link!

You should also check out our intro music on SoundCloud! It’s Melodic Trap by Harry Ling.

Digixav at The Gadget Show Live 2013

Henry and I went to The Gadget Show Live in Birmingham on Friday, an annual extravaganza for tech companies to show off their latest wares to consumers in partnership with the popular Channel 5 programme, and we decided that we would turn our experiences of the event into a comprehensive report at the end of it. What you will read below this paragraph is the resulting document, which grew progressively more animated as the day drew to a close. What started out as a ‘thoughtful’ and ‘insightful’ piece descended into madness, dictated by bouncing, swiveling and a whole plethora of GIFs. This article is not for those with poor internet connections, but we hope you join us through our journey into the wonderful madness that was The Gadget Show Live 2013.

This was the ticket, which arrived in my hands thanks to a Twitter giveaway from YouTube’s PDTechHD and Otone Audio, whose stand boasted the loudest speakers by far.

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This was the entrance.

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As you can probably tell, the whole event was sponsored by Microsoft, and it became apparent that the company wanted to push its products, mainly Windows, to the showgoers. Dominating the show floor was this stand.

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On this stand, you could find pretty much every Windows Phone and bizarre Windows 8 form factor under the sun, so we made GIFs of them all.

Windows Phone 8 Phones

Windows 8 Form Factors

What impressed us in particular was the Dell XPS 12. We spent a long time just spinning its screen round and round.

Dell XPS 12

In the end, we left it like this.

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Lenovo’s ThinkPad Twist received similar treatment from both myself…

…and Henry.

Lenovo ThinkPad Twist

Henry also took a shine to the dual-screened Asus Taichi.

Asus Taichi

We both just laughed at Toshiba’s 21:9 offering, though.

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As we moved away from Microsoft’s stand, Henry tried to capture the atmosphere on his Surface RT.

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Soon after, we found ourselves in the Game Zone for an on-stage Grid 2 competition. Henry was lucky enough to be one of the 8 competitors hand-picked from the crowd.

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He then faced the embarassment of coming in 4th in front of the gathered crowd. See if you can spot us both by clicking the image for full resolution.

Grid 2 Stage

After this, we found some calmer places to demo the game, which is set for release at the end of May.

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The best one was undoubtedly the LG stand, which let visitors drive round the Red Bull Ring on a £19,999 84″ 4K/Ultra HD TV, shown off in the UK for the first time, coupled with a Vesaro sim racing setup that clocked in at £15,000. Stay tuned to our YouTube channel for videos from this stand later this week.

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Just next door, Samsung had a few HDTVs, a Galaxy Note 10.1 and a Perspex-encased Galaxy S4.

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On the other side of LG, Bowers & Wilkins were showing off some bizarre speakers.

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Sony, perched close to Microsoft, had a bus, which was sadly not open to the public.

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Honda’s tiny stand showcased Miimo, a robotic lawnmower that borrows technology from the company’s line of Asimo humanoid robots.

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Pioneer’s DJ equipment got Henry up and scratching merrily.

DJ Henry

3D printers were all the rage this year.

3D Printing

Parrot’s cage full of AR.Drones being demoed every 5 minutes was prime material for GIFs.

Parrot AR Drone Spin

Parrot AR Drone Fall

The most fun we had all day was at the end with Kangoo Jumps. We bounced a lot.

Xavier Bounce

Henry Bounce

Although Henry gained unnatural amounts of pleasure from making unusual GIFs of me.

Xavier Drinking

Xavier Conveyor

The opposite was also true, however.

Henry Conveyor

Henry Walking

All in all, we had a great day at The Gadget Show Live. It was jam-packed full of cutting-edge technology and definitely worth the 6 hour round trip to Birmingham. From Henry…

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…and from myself…

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…we hope to see you all there next year!

LG Nexus 4 review

Nexus 4

Like the inevitable tick-tock of a clock, Google, in partnership with LG, released the fourth Nexus phone late last year. On a day inundated with news on Hurricane Sandy, they managed to send the technology community into overdrive and rain on Microsoft’s parade by introducing a flagship smartphone for just £239.99 unlocked. Despite the shambolic release that occurred through Google’s own Play Store, there is no phone out there that appears to provide this kind of value for money. Google has taken a huge gamble with this device by selling it through its own channels with next to no profit margin, but has it paid off by making the best Android phone out there? Read on to find out.

Hardware

This phone is beautiful. There are no other words to describe it. It is right up there with the iPhone 5 and One X in terms of hardware design and build quality, which is a massive achievement considering the price point. The unadorned glass façade gently curves down to meet the plastic frame which, when flipped over, reveals a gently shimmering micro-etched glass back. Sure, it was a poor design choice in terms of durability, but it looks great. The front is graced with a small speaker grill and a front facing camera. It also features a hidden notification light centred on the bottom bezel – which is very clear and bright. It’s also RGB, meaning it can be programmed to be any colour with apps such as Light Flow. Aside from the volume rocker and power button, the only keys you’ll see here are on-screen, keeping with the pattern started by 2011’s Galaxy Nexus and continued throughout many other post-Ice Cream Sandwich devices and, while not without their critics, I love them. It’s simplicity done extremely well.

Nexus 4 Back

The screen is a 4.7” WXGA (1280 x 768) IPS affair, but some of it is taken up by software buttons. The screen is also up there with the best, using the same in-cell technology the iPhone 5 made a big deal about which, seeing as both panels come from LG, makes perfect sense. The colours and vibrancy are great, although still trail behind AMOLED in certain aspects. The Nexus 4 feels solid in the hand, but also feels very slippery due to the glass back and curve, and I therefore highly recommend getting a case for it, no matter how difficult it is to cover up the beautiful exterior. Another slight problem is the chrome band surrounding the front. While it is done very well, it does have the tendency to scratch or dent. The buttons are made of the same material. They have a nice travel, and feel solid, but they are quite slippery – a recurring theme with the hardware on this phone. However, in spite of all of these flaws, this is easily one of the best designed Android phones ever.

Nexus 4 Base

Inside, the Nexus 4 sits perched upon the top of 2012’s internal hardware. It has a 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro with an Adreno 320 GPU, coupled with 2GB of RAM giving you a blazing fast phone, although the upcoming flagships like the HTC One and Galaxy S IV should easily eclipse it. Benchmark scores demonstrate this, although these should be taken with a pinch of salt, as our testing shows that the US variant of the Galaxy S III (with dual-core S4 chip) obtains a higher Quadrant score than the quad-core S4 Pro-powered Nexus 4, suggesting that this benchmark has not been properly optimised for Android 4.2 yet.

Benchmarks

Device Chipset Quadrant AnTuTu NenaMark2
LG Nexus 4 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro (Quad) 4694 17561 59.6 fps
Samsung Galaxy S III (US) 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 (Dual) 5325 7373 48.7 fps
HTC One X+ 1.7GHz Tegra 3 (Quad) 7652 13546 57.0 fps
HTC One X (Intl.) 1.5GHz Tegra 3 (Quad) 4602 9795 54.7 fps
Asus Nexus 7 1.3GHz Tegra 3 (Quad) 3734 10426 55.3 fps

Software

This phone is running pure, unadulterated Android and is all the better for it. Untouched by manufactures, this allows the end user to experience and enjoy Android as Google intended, which is of course one of the major selling points of this phone. A positive knock-on effect of this is that it should receive timely updates to Android, currently on version 4.2.2. This is why the Galaxy Nexus remained a great phone throughout it’s lifespan – and why the Nexus 4 will be the same. It’s a safer choice than a Samsung or HTC phone, which may or may not be updated to the latest version of Android.

Nexus 4 Corner

Android 4.2 is the best version of Android yet, and it looks great on the hardware of the Nexus 4. I’m not going to do a full review of the software as it’s still the Jelly Bean that we know and love from I/O 2012, but I’ll go over a few of the new features, such as lock-screen widgets. Combined with the ever-growing number of third party apps that support this functionality, this is amazing. My favourite use case is to see my to do list and edit it all from my lock screen. This is joined by gesture typing (a Swype-esque keyboard), Photo Sphere (StreetView-esque 360 degree panoramas) and Miracast streaming to make the latest point upgrade of the dessert-flavoured OS.

Nexus 4 Camera

What does this all mean to you? Basically, you get a rock solid, lightning fast version of Android. This is easily on par with the iPhone, if not smoother thanks to Project Butter. It also blends in with all the apps that follow the Holo design guidelines (unlike the One X). I realise I must sound like a fanboy when I say this, but honestly it’s true. There are still places where Android lags behind iOS, but those places are few and far between. I’m genuinely excited to see what Android 5.0 will bring.

Camera, Battery and Radios

As many reviews have stated before, and more will state after, the Nexus 4 camera is simply average. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good, but not amazing. I would put it about on par with the iPhone 4S in terms of picture quality, and slightly worse than that for colour reproduction. Rather than telling you, it’s better for me to show you. There is a full gallery of sample shots on the way to be added to this review later.

Nexus 4 Sample Shot Can

Again, the same goes for battery life. It is average, and maybe even slightly below. The Nexus 4 lasts about 10 hours on a charge, but with screen on time fluctuating wildly depending on usage and the ROM. My highest is about 4.5 hours and the lowest is about 1.5 hours. Not great, but with a bit of careful usage here and there it will get you through the day. I’ll also update this review with screenshots of a few charge cycles. I’m not entirely sure why the battery life is so sub-par considering it is a non-LTE phone with a 2100mAh battery, but I assume that the internals or apps are draining it.

The radios in the Nexus have been very good, definitely better than the One X I reviewed last year. WiFi reception has been pretty good, reaching 3 bars out of 4 in my room. This is pretty good for a smartphone as my room has brick walls, and 3G reception has been pretty good too. One major thing that the phone has been bashed for is the lack of 4G LTE capability, but if you are in the UK then that shouldn’t be a problem until much later when 4G is widespread, unless you are an EE customer.

Conclusion

Nexus 4 Conclusion

The Nexus 4 is easily the best phone in its price bracket and, in most ways, it is definitely the best phone on the market. However, is it the phone that you should buy? The HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S IV are both lurking just days away, and I say if you are buying a phone to last 3 or 4 years, this probably isn’t the phone to buy due to the crack-prone glass back and lack of LTE. If you are buying a phone to last 1 year (or even 2), then this is your phone. The promise of prompt Android updates ably aided by the swift internals will keep you ticking by nicely. Sure, in 2 years it might not be the best-specced phone, but it will remain the yardstick for Android in 2013. Why? Because it’s a Nexus, and this is how Android phones should be done.

 

Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo announces Pro version of LG Optimus G with 5″ 1080p display

LG Optimus G Pro NTT DoCoMo

In unveiling its DoCoMo NEXT line of smartphones and tablets for 2013, Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo has confirmed the impending release of an enlarged version of the LG Optimus G, the phone that served as the basis for the Nexus 4. The Optimus G Pro trades a 4.7″ 1280 x 720 panel for one of 1920 x 1080 over 5 inches, but that appears to be the only major difference, as both Pro and ‘Amateur’ models feature quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro chips powering a skinned version of Android 4.1. The 3000mAh battery is the largest in DoCoMo’s new smartphone line, and a 13.2MP BSI CMOS sensor can be found on the rear. Along with the usual array of Japan-specific features such as One-Seg TV broadcasting, the Optimus G Pro will also support LTE, NFC and WiFi tethering for up to 8 devices, while a microSD slot will allow for up to 64GB of expansion. The phone is said to be hitting NTT DoCoMo in April although, as with the Sony Xperia Tablet Z, it remains unlikely that this phone will ever be seen beyond Japanese shores.

NTT DoCoMo 2013 Spring Collection

Via Android Police
Source NTT DoCoMo