Hands-On With LG’s (Huge) Optimus Vu

We’re here checking out LG’s media preview event, and so far, there are no surprises to be had here. LG’s Daniel Hernandez is on stage as I write this talking about all of the phones that the company has already announced these past few weeks.

Of course, we’re not just here to listen — we’re here to play! And on that note, how could I resist playing with the giant little Optimus Vu.

Two words immediately spring to mind when you pick up the Optimus Vu: “Holy cow.”

When you see the specs on a sheet of paper (or on a blog, as the case may be), the screen immediately seems like the stand-out feature, but it’s not until you actually get the darned thing in your hands that you realize how truly massive it feels. Because of the 5-inch IPS display’s 4:3 aspect ratio, the Optimus Vu just seems like too much phone for one hand — my left thumb could only just barely graze the screen’s right edge.

That said, it’s surprisingly comfortable when held Game Boy-style; that is, with both hands. Its thin (8.5mm) waistline also makes for a very light device, though it’s probably bound to draw comparisons with Samsung’s own Galaxy Note.

Despite the giant screen potentially hampering usage for people with smaller mitts, the device was very snappy — not a hiccup in sight. As a Gingerbread device, it doesn’t pack the sort of visual flair that Android 4.0 brings to the table, but LG’s custom UI seems more responsive and less intrusive than before. I’d probably chalk that up to the 1.5GHz processor

For better or worse, the stylus seems like sort of an afterthought: it’s nowhere near as smart as Samsung’s S-Pen, mostly because it’s just a regular stylus with a capacitive nib. Users can tap a small button on the device’s top left corner to take a screenshot over which they can doodle, but the noveltly seems to wear off pretty quickly.

It’s easy to bash the Optimus Vu as a Galaxy Note knock-off, and unimpressive inclusions the like the stylus don’t exactly help its case. Still, LG’s rather odd design choices at least means they were looking to bring a fresh spin to a market that was only just born. Whether or not that translate into actual sales isn’t quite clear (my instincts say no), but LG could do worse than to try something bold.