LG Optimus Pad preview: First look
Video player does 1080p videos, lacks codec support
Despite the large screen and enviable processing power, the LG Optimus Pad doesn’t make for much of a portable video player. And you can tell that right from the start as the thing doesn’t even have a dedicated video player app - everything is in the gallery.
Naturally the player handles up to 1080p MP4 videos. You have to be careful with the bitrate though, because higher bitrate 1080p videos might end up choppy.
The codec support is also seemingly a few years old with DivX and Xvid nowhere in sight. You will have to either get a third-party app for playing those, which will inevitably harm performance or convert all your videos before uploading them to the Optimus Pad.
Thankfully Mass Storage mode is enabled, unlike the Motorola XOOM.
Good web browser, poor Flash video performance
The web browser is another key app as far as tablets are concerned. With full Flash support, the Optimus Pad gets an edge over the iPad.
The tabs are kept in a bar on top, much like on a desktop browser and opening a new one is as easy as clicking the plus sign on the right. The address bar and search bar are incorporated in a single field - typical Android - which scores another point for the Optimus Pad.
Bookmarks have their own screen and history uses a split-screen interface letting you check the pages browsed today, yesterday or over the past week. There’s also a most visited tab.
Synchronizing the browser with your desktop Google Chrome doesn’t need any extra software – you check a box in the settings menu and you are done.
There’s also auto-complete for forms and passwords and you can pick the default zoom level for the browser. Not that altering the zoom is that hard with pinch-zoom, naturally, being supported.
A neat feature allows you to access quick page controls (back, forward, refresh, bookmark etc.) by a swiping gesture performed near the right edge of the screen. You cannot have that and the classical interface though so you have to pick your priorities.
Now, for the Flash performance – the Optimus Pad does okay with 360p videos right in the browser and 480p are watchable too (even if they do get slightly choppy at times). 720p Flash videos on the other hand are completely out of the question, though early reports suggest that the Android 3.1 update upgrades them to only mildly choppy.
And this might have sounded good if it wasn’t for the fact that some Android smartphones are already doing 720p Flash and the Galaxy S II even manages 1080p. Obviously LG (or NVIDIA, we are not quite sure here) still has some catching up to do.
And by the way, if you find Flash content to slow down your page load times or cause stutter when panning, you can switch it to on-demand in the settings menu (or even turn it off all together).