• Full Review
  • Specifications

Full Review

LG has always been somewhat quirky – often first to come out with gimmicks that manage to be cool while being wholly impractical. Remember the Crystal, which featured a see-through, touch-sensitive keypad? Or the New Chocolate, which offered a ‘true’ cinematic widescreen display in a body that was about the same size as a TV remote? Now LG has come up with the Optimus Pad – a tablet that pioneers the ability to record video in 3D. So do we think that this tablet, running on Android Honeycomb, is leading the way, or is it just a gimmicky feature that will only appeal to diehard 3D fans?

First impressions

At 8.9 inches, the Optimus Pad is positioned somewhere between the very portable 7in tablets such as the HTC Flyer, and the behemoth-like iPad 2 and Motorola Xoom. Its brown plastic body features a broad metal strip along its centre, which states that it’s a Google device. For the 3D recording feature, there’s a pair of cameras, one on either side of the strip, as well as an LED flash. It’s a shame that the display is not 3D compatible – it’s just a 1280x768 pixel display with a near-widescreen 15:9 aspect ratio – plus you’ll find it necessary to wear the included red-and-blue specs to see the 3D content in three dimensions.

Weighing 621g, the Optimus Pad is weightier than the iPad 2, but still feels plastic and ordinary. The tablet is made to be used in landscape mode – the black bezel surrounding the display is thicker at the sides – so you can use your thumbs to hold and swipe at the edges. However, as the tablet is pretty slim, it can be used with one hand, much like the iPad 2 or Xoom. Under the bonnet are all the usual tablet gubbins – dual-core 1GHz processor, A-GPS support, 1Gb RAM and 32 GB or storage – you can expand this by another 32Gb thanks to the microUSB slot.

As well as those two five-megapixel snappers, there’s also a two-megapixel camera on the front for making video calls and taking photobooth–type pictures. The HDMI port lets you connect to an HDTV to view media on a large screen, and, like the Xoom, it runs on Android Honeycomb, which LG has chosen not to tamper with, which makes sense because Google has done a good job with its tablet-optimised software.

Back to basics

The five home screens are easily customised – just hold down on any screen and all five will pop up – you can add widgets, folders, apps and change wallpaper via the scrollable set of menus. Notifications appear in the bottom right of the display, so it’s easy to go to new events. To view all programs, head to the Apps icon at the top left of the screen. The bottom left features touch spots for Home, Menu and Multitasking – here your last five programs can be viewed. You can see these buttons whatever screen you are in.

The tweaked interface makes the most of the larger display size – in fact it does it better than the iPad’s OS does. The capacitive touch-display is smooth and responsive in operation, although the virtual keyboard suffered from a touch of lag. Like most tablets, it’s not the best choice for writing lengthy emails unless you choose to hook up a wireless keyboard.

Fire up the Optimus Pad for the first time and you’ll be taken through setting up a Google account and your Wi-Fi connection by a setup screen. You can then sync calendar and contacts from Gmail to the Optimus Pad. It is also possible to sync Microsoft Exchange accent and other webmail. While there is no social app ready-loaded, you can simply download the Twitter and Facebook apps from Android Market and then sync the relevant contacts with your address book. The Optimus Pad is available in Wi-Fi only and 3G versions; the 3G version will allow you to send texts but not make calls.

3D film

Now we come to the Optimus Pad’s USP – its ability to record 3D video. There are two apps for this – one is the 3D camcorder, the other operates the 3D video player. You can choose from one of a few modes to record 3D video – Anaglyph is the older style, for which you need the red-and-blue specs – without them you’ll just see a blurry picture. Or choose side-by-side, which has two images, one from each snapper – when recording even the specs won't help you with this one – you’ll need to playback on a 3D TV to see the effect. You can also opt for Mixed, which shows the 3D image as two pictures on top of each other, and Single – which just shows the view from one of the snappers while you’re recording, although the resulting video can be viewed in 3D.

Whatever mode you choose, it is possible to alter depth control, which changes how close the image in focus appears to be – and how much your head hurts after staring at the screen for a while! It is also possible to alter video quality and white balance – and the how-to tab is useful for brushing up on how to achieve all this. It’s a pretty thorough app, which makes it even more of a shame that LG hasn’t seen fit to include a true 3D screen, as seen on the Optimus 3D smartphone. So, you’re stuck with the 3D glasses – not a good look on the train – or connecting it up to a 3D TV for ‘best results’. If you happen to have a 3D TV, buying this tablet might make sense, but for the rest of us, we suspect that other Honeycomb Tablets with more useful features are going to be more attractive.

You can also record 1080p video using the five-megapixel snapper – the video from this offers clear, smooth pictures – if indeed, you really want to use an 8.9in tablet for video recording at all.


There's a pair of new features that really highlight the tablet experience – the new Gmail interface and the onboard Dolphin browser. Tablets that run on Android 2.3 Gingerbread have the same single window-view as both the smartphone and desktop version of Gmail – but Android Honeycomb offers a new-look two-column view that offers the inbox on one side and reading panel on the other. It works incredibly well on the widescreen view when you have the tablet in landscape mode – plus it offers all the features of a desktop Gmail, including archiving, custom folders and Priority Inbox. The Dolphin browser, meanwhile, runs both private and tabbed browsing – vital on tablets. It looks good and runs speedily.

Added features

Apart from its slightly disappointing 3D features, the Optimus Pad has all it needs for video, with DivX support (increasingly common for online video) and a display that has a high enough resolution to watch HD content comfortably. It’s simple to move your tunes and video too, using drag and drop – you don’t have to navigate through iTunes as you do on the iPad 2. There’s also a 3.5mm audio jack so you can use your own headphones. The 3G version also makes the most of the tablet’s sat-nav offering. With the benefit of Google Navigation and A-GPS, the tablet locked on to our location easily and gave us voice directions to our chosen destination. Google Maps for Honeycomb has had a bit of a tweak and has more of a 3D appearance – you can also switch views by dragging three fingers. If you have the Wi-Fi-only tablet, you can still use it to get directions before you head off.

The verdict

There are two ways to look at the LG Optimus Pad - as an ordinary Android Honeycomb tablet, or as a 3D-recording tablet. We reckon it actually performs better as an ordinary tablet, thanks to its very user friendly Honeycomb OS. It’s just a shame that its £699 preorder price (we’re still waiting to hear what operator-subsidised prices will be) takes it way above that of the Motorola Xoom. That extra 100 quid is the price you’re paying for the 3D facility– but without a proper 3D display we suspect that only die-hard early adopters will be desperate to get their hands on it. Even if you have your own 3D TV, the Optimus Pad does not record at a high enough resolution to make it a replacement for a dedicated 3D camcorder. Launching a 3D tablet this early on in the game was always going to be a gamble and LG has not hit the jackpot this time.




Type of phone:





243.8 x 150 x 12.7 mm


621 g


16 million colours




Five megapixels

Special Camera features:

auto focus, LED flash

Video recording:


Video playback:


Video calling:


Video streaming:


Music formats played:


3.5mm jack port:


Handsfree speakerphone:


Voice Control:


Voice Dialling:


Call records:




Ringtones customization:


Display description:

LCD capacitive touchscreen







Standard color:


Launch Status:






Operating system:



TV out, WLAN, MicroUSB, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth

Announced date:

February 2011

What's in the Box:




International launch date:

May 2011

Battery life when playing multimedia:




FM Radio Description:


Internal memory:


Memory Card Slot:



SMS, MMS, IM, Email

Internet Browser:


E-mail client:

SMTP, POP3, Attachments, IMAP4, Push email







Data speed:





740 minutes


273 hours

Display size:

8.9 inches



Audio recording:


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