ORLANDO, Fla. – All the major smartphone manufacturers are preparing 3-D handsets, and we got to check one out, the upcoming LG Optimus 3D, at the CTIA Wireless convention. Here are our impressions.
The LG Optimus line of Android smartphones has proven popular, and the Optimus 3D is in keeping with current design trends. For example, it has a black bezel with a soft touch back. But LG breaks with conventional smartphone design by having a 4.3-inch display.
The Optimus 3D uses a type of stereoscopic technology called a parallax barrier to produce 3-D images without the need for special glasses. This is an important consideration because who wants to pack around 3-D glasses just to use a phone?
Yet the Optimus 3D suffers from the same problem all parallax barrier devices do: if it’s not viewed at just the right angle, it looks pretty bad. We found ourselves constantly tilting and turning the Optimus 3D in order to bring the image back into focus; even turning the device one degree to the right or the left caused ghost images and stuttering that was really unsettling.
Despite the constant adjustments it required, when the 3-D was at the right angle images, videos and even games looked pretty good. The screen is a bit dark, however, from the "screen door" effect that is common with this technology.
The Optimus 3D has dual 5 megapixel cameras on the back, meaning it can make its own 3-D videos. The process works remarkably well, and the 3-D video made with the phone was just as snazzy in 3-D as the professional video, although the frame rate seemed slow at times.
The Optimus 3D runs the Android operating system, but LG has tweaked the interface to take advantage of or, perhaps more accurately, show off the 3-D capabilities. Menus and especially galleries use sweeping arcs of icons. The home screen and app drawer are relatively unchanged and don’t look all that special on the 3-D screen, but the system does point out which apps are designed specifically for 3-D viewing.
Inside the phone, LG has used a 1GHz dual-core processor, which is essential to handling 3-D content without slowing to a halt. The phone handles tasks fairly smoothly, although it does seem to be just slightly less responsive than other contemporary Android smartphones.
LG has not given a price or release date for the Optimus 3D, but AT&T announced at CTIA that they would sell a version of the Optimus 3D that will be known as the Thrill 4G on the network. AT&T hasn’t announced pricing, either, but indicated that it would launch in the next few months.