LG Optimus Pad preview: First look
Pixel-rich screen suffers outdoors
It's 1280 x 768 pixels on a 8.9” screen, for pixel density of 167ppi. That’s higher than the iPad and the Motorola XOOM - enough for comfortable reading.
It’s a plain TFT unit though, and viewing angles are limited.
Colors do get pretty washed out but contrast is definitely the bigger issue. Text is readable at pretty much any angle but if you’re viewing photos you will want to have the screen head on. The image quality quickly deteriorates at even the slightest tilt.
To make things worse, the coating of the screen is highly reflective and you end up struggling to find a proper viewing angle.
In all honesty though, we have been spoiled by some of the premium screens we've seen on phones lately. Tablets obviously cannot match the SuperAMOLEDs, Retinas and ClearBlacks out there. And all the issues we've identified in the LG Optimus Pad's screen are there in most other tablets too. All in all, the outdoor performance is in doubt while indoors the pixel-rich display is sharp and punchy.
Our display test table follows, to pit the LG Optimus Pad against some of the competing screens we’ve tested.
Design and construction
The LG Optimus Pad looks for a design identity in the more recent batch of Optimus line smartphones. It may not be quite the classy stone-cold looker that the Motorola XOOM is, but it's not ugly by any means. In fact the LG tablet looks a bit better than the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9, which is the only other 8.9" droid slate at this point.
It's a Honeycomb device and the standard hardware controls (back, home and menu) move onto the screen. A Lock/Power combo is at the top and there's a volume rocker on the right. That's holding the tablet in portrait mode with the LG logo on top, though with full-circle auto-rotation there's no clear top and bottom, left and right.
Above the screen, there’s a 2MP front-facing camera, an ambient light sensor, a small status LED and the LG logo.
The back of the tablet is the more intriguing place. There we find the dual 5 MP camera lenses, fitted with a single LED flash. The lenses are symmetrically placed either side of a brushed metal strip - an accent found on recent Optimus smartphones.
The bottom of the LG Optimus Pad has a pair of stereo speakers only. On top we find the 3.5mm audio jack and a tiny charger port. There is another speaker here.
This speaker layout is chosen to suit both portrait and landscape use. When held landscape, one of the two speakers at the bottom gets disabled, and the one at the top is used instead. In portrait mode, the bottom pair of speakers work only.
Most of the connectivity ports are on the left-hand side of the Optimus Pad: microUSB and HDMI ports, plus a few pins for a docking cradle. No charging off the USB port.
You can slide to open a tiny bit at the top to access the SIM compartment. There is no microSD card slot on the Optimus Pad, 32GB of inbuilt storage is all you get.
The matt finish on the back is quite pleasant to touch and great at hiding fingerprints. The brushed metal strip in the center nods at related Optimus smartphones.
The 6400mAh battery is not user accessible. It's quoted at up to 9 hours and 20 minutes of calls or 273h of standby time.
The LG Optimus Pad is a well-built device and styed to be consistent with the recent smartphones of the house. We found an 8.9" screen to be very welcoming on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9. That said, the problem of the Optimus Pad is weight. At more or less the same size as its Samsung rival, the LG Tablet is the unbelievable 150g heavier, which makes handling it somewhat of a harder task.