LG Takes a Vu To Joining Samsung Galaxy Note In ‘Phablet’ Space


LG Electronics will compete against Samsung in the five-inch “phablet” arena with the LG Optimus VU

LG Electronics has released a teaser video showing off the sharp, clean lines of what it is calling the LG Optimus Vu, a “phablet” with a 4:3 aspect ratio and a five-inch display, on the diagonal.

A photo of the device on the Japanese site Datacider shows a date stamp on the device of 21 February, which Engadget points out, “may or may not be a hint”. According to Datacider, the Vu is expected to run Android 2.3 and be upgradeable, of course, to version 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Other leaked specs include a Qualcomm 1.5GHz dual-core processor; 1GB of RAM; 8GB of ROM; an eight-megapixel camera; and support for WiFi, Bluetooth and near field communication (NFC) technologies.

Doing a Dell

LG, like Samsung, has clearly decided that the market is ripe for the five-inch tablet and that the Dell Slate was simply ahead of its time. The Dell device, an early arrival on the iPad-era tablet scene, was generally complimented – though panned for its terrible “pocketability”. Sales were poor and it is no longer available.

Analyst Roger Kay told eWEEK that consumers will likely give the Galaxy Note a look, “now that their minds have been opened to the idea of tablets”.

The Note notably features a feature-rich stylus, the S Pen, for more precise input than a finger to the touch-screen, as well as for capturing and rearranging input. Samsung has already sold millions of Notes overseas, since releasing it in October and, on 19 February, it will arrive in the United States on the AT&T network, for $300 with a two-year contract.

Writing in Forbes, Kay added that if a phablet – a combination of phone and tablet, and a moniker whose originator is unclear – is designed right, “the size compromise works out”.

Kay adds that Apple has helped consumers find viewing video at a close range to be acceptable, and that, as Philips theorised at a 2006 conference, audio quality actually has a bigger impact on one’s assessment of the user experience than video quality.

The phablet, then, offers the perk of fitting in pockets – albeit roomy pockets – while increasing that all-precious factor of screen real estate.

In a report, Canalys said that tablet shipments during the fourth quarter of 2011 had reached 26.5 million units, for a 2011 total of 63.2 million units. The Apple iPad accounted for 15.4 million of the quarter’s shipments.

Canalys rolls tablet sales into PC figures – and still reported that smartphone sales during the quarter had, for the first time, passed PC shipments. It also does interesting math in choosing to count Google-branded Samsung smartphones as Google products – a distinction that made Apple the Number One smartphone seller for the year, instead of Samsung, as research firm IHS iSuppli had determined.

By IHS’ figures, Samsung shipped 95 million smartphones in 2011, to Apple’s 93 million. During the fourth quarter, Apple moved 37 million iPhones, while Samsung moved 36 million smartphones.

“Samsung advanced in 2011 because of its strategy of offering a complete line of smartphone products, spanning a variety of price points, features and operating systems,” IHS Senior Analyst Wayne Lam said in a statement. “This enabled Samsung to move past perennial market leader Nokia and to slightly exceed Apple’s total for the year.”

The introduction of fence-straddling phablets may make quarterly tallies even trickier for the analysts, though happy news for Samsung either way.

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