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Review: LG Optimus Vu

The market for large, hybrid devices that toe the line of being a smartphone and a tablet (or a phablet, as it is more commonly known) is growing exponentially each year. As a direct result, plenty of manufacturers are creating their own interpretation of the phablet, with various results. Korean manufacturer LG has dived into the possibly lucrative phablet market with their unique interpretation of the phablet – the LG Optimus Vu.

The Optimus Vu isn’t a particularly new device – it was first announced back in February for the Korean market. Back then it was still sporting a dual-core processor and Android 2.3 as its OS. One of the first things that struck us when we initially found out about it was its unique 4:3 aspect ratio. Most smartphones nowadays use the 16:9 aspect ratio which most of you are familiar with, as it’s the de facto aspect ratio anything with displays. The Optimus Vu uses a 4:3 aspect ratio – which if you’re old enough, you remember as the preferred aspect ratio for old CRT TV sets and monitors back in the day.

After being announced for the Korean market, the LG Optimus Vu disappeared from view for a while, until it resurfaced a few months ago sporting radically different internals, possibly in a bid to try and reap success in the international market. This time around, the Optimus Vu sports a newer, quad-core Tegra 3 processor, along with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

When we first laid our eyes on the Optimus Vu, we were a bit surprised at how large the device was. We’re no strangers to large phablets, but the Optimus Vu was something else. Measuring at 139.6×90.4×8.5mm, it’s substantially wider than its direct competitor, the Samsung Galaxy Note II. The Optimus Vu uses a 5-inch, 768×1024 pixel HD-IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen that gives the Optimus Vu a pixel density of 256 ppi. There are four capacitive buttons present on the bottom of the 5-inch display, which betrays the Optimus Vu’s Gingerbread origins.

The power button is located on the top of the device, along with a sliding panel that protects the USB slot. Beside that lies a button that launches the stylus software that accompanies the device. The volume rocker is located on the right side of the device, while the slot for the microSIM is on the left side. The Optimus Vu uses a non-removable battery.

The overall design of the Optimus Vu is typical of LG’s L-style series of devices, which include the Optimus L9 and all the other members of that particular product line. The Optimus Vu is an all-black affair, which is punctuated at the back by a textured finish.