LG GT540 Optimus review: Get smart, get started
Upgraded Android UI
The LG GT540 Optimus runs Android 1.6, which is yesterday’s news, but at least has been slightly retouched by LG. It’s not even close to the S-Class themed GW620. The only re-designed bits you get are the homescreen and the main menu.
As usual, you get three (or more) homescreens to put widgets, shortcuts and folders on. There are three non-customizable buttons at the bottom – dialer, menu and messaging.
The new addition coming with the LG Optimus theme is the variable number of homescreen panes. Initially, you get only three screens, but you can easily add another four to make room for your widgets. This and the arc-shaped buttons at the bottom remind us much of the HTC Sense UI organization.
The notification area, one of the Android strong points, got a tweak as well – it has four switches for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and sound.
The LG GT540 doesn’t have the standard set of Android controls. LG have decided instead to use only three – home, back and the menu key. Now, you may think the Search key is missing but it’s just been relocated to the side – and it makes sense actually.
Of course, pressing the menu key on the homescreen offers a Search option too, along with the usual commands like adding a widget, changing the wallpaper, etc.
LG customizations went a little further – the main menu has been changed too. Much like on the GW620 you can group apps into categories. Unlike the GW620 however, the Optimus has no pre-defined categories and their number and names are left to the user to configure.
In the menu, you’ll find a little tool called Homescreen selector, which lets you pick between the stock vanilla Android homescreen and the custom LG Home. If LG Home is currently in use, you may access the selector directly from the homescreen options.
Besides the standard Android v1.6 widgets, LG has preloaded additional SNS ones – updates, status and messaging. The trio helps you keep track of your friends’ activities on Facebook, Twitter and Bebo.
The UI on the LG Optimus is acceptably fast and has almost no lag, except occasional hiccups when the gallery gets overloaded.
Here is how the LG GT540 Optimus compares to the HTC Hero in terms of performance. We used the free Benhcmark and PiBenchmark apps from the Android Market for the test and the results are here for you to see.
Another socialized phonebook
Android v1.6 has one single Contacts application to do all basic jobs – Call log, Contacts, Groups and Favorites. The app uses a tabbed interface for easy navigation.
At the bottom of the Contact list, there’s a Search Contacts button and an Add a new contact button. Another way to search for a contact is by using the alphabet scroll.
Each contact is listed with a photo, name, default phone number and a call button. Viewing a contact has been redesigned with social networking in mind. A tabbed interface is used here again. The default tab is View – it shows all the contact info along with social networking related info (latest status, address, works, birthday, etc.).
Unlike the GW620, the Optimus won’t let you link every contact with different social-networking profiles You can only import contacts from Facebook, Twitter and Bebo. Unfortunately this won’t update your current entries; it will add new ones instead.
Anyway, once you’ve imported your friends’ details from a social service, they will be linked permanently and will be updated regularly.
The next tab is the Log – it lists all communications with a given contact, from calls to Facebook messages.
Editing a contact is mostly unchanged. You have all the types listed (numbers, email addresses, etc) and there's a plus sign on the right - clicking it adds another item of that type. Pressing the minus sign under it deletes unneeded info.
Let’s take a look at the other three tabs in the main Contacts app.
The Groups tab hosts all of your custom groups plus the imported social-networking ones (Facebook, Twitter and Bebo).
The Call log and Favorite Contacts need no special introduction. You can add favorites by taping on the small star right next to the name.