LG Optimus Black review: Black and bright
Organizer has it all covered
The LG Optimus Black comes with the usual set of organizing apps and there’s a preloaded document viewer and editor (well sort of).
The app in question is Polaris Office and it’s one of the most feature advanced mobile editors we’ve seen. You can of course view documents – Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents and PDF files too.
Editing offers almost a full set of options – text style, justification, paragraph formatting, bullets, even creating tables (that’s a first). If you’re editing an Excel file, you get a formula wizard, resize rows/columns, border style, merge cells and so on. Even creating a full PowerPoint presentation is possible.
You can do practically anything with the app – it’s better than the other mobile editors we’ve tested, even better than the Windows Phone 7 one (which had many editing limitations).
The app doubles as a file manager and also integrates with Box.net.
The calendar has four different types of view - daily, weekly, monthly and agenda. Adding a new event is quick and easy, and you can also set an alarm to act as a reminder.
The LG Optimus Black features an alarm clock application, which allows a lot of alarms to be set, each with its own start time and repeat pattern.
The organizer package also includes a voice recorder, which might be pretty useful for making audio notes and a nicely touch-optimized calculator.
The LG Optimus Black features great SNS integration. Both Facebook and Twitter contacts can be added to the phonebook and you can link those to existing phone contacts – in fact, the first time you create an account, the phone will offer to import the contacts from that social network.
It’s clever too – you can import all contacts, manually select which ones to import, or just those who match people in your phonebook.
When you link a contact with their Facebook or Twitter, their status updates will go into the History tab of their contact info and the Photo tab will show their online albums.
The Facebook app lets you read news feeds, post messages on people’s walls, browse their profiles and so on. You can of course post status updates and including a photo is very easy.
The Twitter app is also feature complete. You can manage your profile and the list of people you follow, plus read tweets from others. The @me section will help you find tweets directed at you more easily.
When you receive a new message, it will appear in the notification area just like regular SMS messages do. You can set it to notify you when there’s a new @me message or direct message.
There’s a dedicated MySpace app as well, in case you’re using that.
Android Market keeps getting better
The LG Optimus Black is running on Android 2.2 Froyo and has a WVGA screen, giving you access to just about every app in the Android Market (there are some that require Gingerbread, but they are still a small percentage of the 200,000+ apps available at the official app repository).
The structure of the Android Market is quite simple – featured apps on top and above them, three sections (Applications, Games and Downloads). There is also a shortcut up there for initiating a search.
The Applications and Games sections are divided into subsections (e.g. Communication, Entertainment etc.) so you can filter the apps that are relevant to you. Of course, there is also an option of displaying them all in bulk, but you’ll probably need days to browse them all that way.
There are all kinds of apps in the Android market and the most important ones are covered (file managers, navigation apps, document readers etc.).
LG’s App Advisor comes preinstalled as with other Android smartphones by the company. It offers a list of recommended apps, nothing fancier than that.
Google Maps moves from Utility to Entertainment
The LG Optimus Black comes with a built-in GPS receiver. It got an accurate GPS lock very quickly. If you need only general location (within 100-150 meters) for location-based services, you can use Cell-ID and Wi-Fi network positioning.
The Google Maps 5.0 is part of the standard Android package. It uses vector maps, which are smaller and download faster but also support cool 3D views. You can use the two finger camera tilt and camera rotate gestures to look around (though 3D building are not available everywhere).
The Google Maps Navigation option is available too – but only for supported countries. The new version features offline rerouting. That is, it will cache the needed maps to navigate you to where you’re going and even if you deviate from your course, it will be able to calculate a new route even without a data connection.
Street View mode is supported and will do the well-known compass trick, which is like taking a virtual tour of the location.