LG G Flex 2 – there’s no beauty without curves

flex2-front

“Same is not sexy”. This is the rather bold statement LG is going with to describe its intriguingly shaped Flex 2. We’re not sure how true this is in the grand scheme of things but we’re inclined to agree that as far as sexy tech goes, LG may have a point. It’s nice to see something new in a market swarming with great looking devices that can genuinely turn heads again.

The curved 5.5”, full HD P-OLED screen on this beautiful creation was the main reason why it collected 14 “Best Phone” awards at the 2015 International CES show and now that it’s heading to the UK we’re dying to know if it has the brains to go with these looks.

Fortunately it’s no slouch when it comes to interiors, with a 13MP rear camera and 4K Ultra HD camcorder, so you can finally get your hands on some content for that snazzy new TV. A 2.1MP selfie and full HD video recorder on the front should do most people quite nicely, and with an octa-core Snapdragon 810 2.0GHz CPU keeping things ticking over should have no problems with responsive operation. 32GB of internal memory with an important option of microSD up to 2TB means you won’t run out of space if you’re getting carried away with 4K video, and a 3,000 mAh battery should mean you won’t run out of juice either.

So on paper at least, the G Flex 2 seems like it could be the complete package, but how does it all stack up together, and are there any hidden downsides to a bendy display? We had a read around to find out.

As TechRadar points out this is LG’s second attempt at a curved smartphone and one in which it has appeared to address many of its predecessor’s problems, but that the all-important display isn’t quite as radical as LG would you have you believe: “Instead, the curve gives it a subtle bow in the middle so, like one of LG’s new 4K TVs, its faint curvature goes from a 400mm to a 700mm radius.” What’s interesting here is that it isn’t just curved; it’s also flexible, which importantly makes it more durable and gives the user some degree of comfort control depending on how they’re using it.

“The Flex 2 felt contoured to my face and more accessible with one hand than a normal 5.5-inch phone. I’ve seen the G Flex withstand 1,000 pounds of pressure, and LG claims this one is even stronger. It’s the ultimate anti-iPhone 6 BendGate phone.”

It notes that the flexible nature makes it a little more effective for viewing multimedia, taking phone calls and fitting snugly into a pocket. And like the previous Flex, the Flex 2 has an “advanced self-healing back”, which can recover from light scratches in around 10 seconds. It’s an impressive claim, but may be a little far-fetched as “looking at the back cover, I still received what must be considered “medium” scratches that haven’t gone away. Sadly, it doesn’t live up to the hype.

The only other potential issues with the design are based around the controls and speaker. The sides and top are devoid of power and volume buttons. These have been placed on the rear, which can take a bit of getting used to, and a relatively powerful speaker loses significant appeal if it’s not pumping the tunes in your direction. Despite these foibles Techradar is impressed overall, awarding it 4/5.

Moving away from the USP and onto more conventional matters we’ll pick up TrustedReviews and its 7/10 review as it delves a bit deeper into the core functions. The quality of the display itself is pleasingly impressive. It writes that the smaller 5.5” size feels more manageable and the benefits of OLED (or P-OLED – since it’s made from plastic for the flexibility) shine through.

“Its sharp, black levels really impress for watching films, and viewing angles are excellent. The 403ppi pixel density of the 5.5-inch screen means it impresses for clarity as well.”

With Lollipop 5.0.2 and LG’s UI on top the Flex 2 is pretty up to date on the software front, and many of LGs additions, such as the gesture-related features and smart keyboard, are quite effective, though it is running the risk of feeling a little overwhelming. The processor keeps things ticking over nicely, allocating its cores as and when needed to cope with intensive tasks and optimise performance, but it can run uncomfortably hot, which seems largely to be a drawback of the curved design.

On the camera front you’ll find the same array as the impressive G3 with a few extra features to improve the experience, such as a dual-LED flash for better close-ups, optical image stabilisation and something called Gesture Shot, which allows you to take pictures without having to touch the screen or device itself. Overall the results are impressive, though it does note that with when it comes to shooting video, the 5-minute limit for 4K might mean that 1080p is a better default option.

We’ll let AndroidPit fill in some gaps for us with a look at the battery, which it points out is a step down from the 3,500 mAh of the original, though doesn’t suffer because of optimisations in other areas. The G Flex 2 also offers fast charging, which offers a couple of benefits. “The G Flex 2 can charge up to 50 percent capacity in less than 40 minutes. The G Flex 2 also makes use of stepped charging technology; where standard battery charging comes in at 1.8A, the G Flex 2’s stepped charging is capable of 2.6A.” It made it through a full day of fairly heavy use quite well, though the more demanding consumer might be asking for a little bit more considering the competition.

AndroidPit also emphasises the durability that a flexible phone can bring and the peace of mind that comes with it for more accident-prone users. LG has actually produced something called Dura-Guard Glass for the Flex 2, which is effectively customised Gorilla Glass that’s 20% stronger than Gorilla Glass 3 with improved strength and shock absorbency at the edges, which are most vulnerable to drops. This all culminates in:

“a premium device with serious hardware backed up by all the benefits of superior durability, flexibility and ergonomics. As a normal phone the G Flex 2 would be great, but adding a near-indestructible build quality makes it truly outstanding.”

flex2-back

The LG G Flex 2 will be available exclusively on Vodaphone for six weeks from 19th March when it’s officially launched, and you can expect to pay around £500 SIM-free.

LG bring World’s first curved 4K OLED TV to the UK

77EC980V-main

LG Electronics have announced the forthcoming arrival of what they’re calling the “World’s First Curved ULTRA HD 4K OLED TV in the UK”. Technically it’s going to be two TVs, a 77” and 65” model, both of which are due to go on sale from October.

Both models combine Ultra HD 4k (3840 x 2160 pixels) with LG’s proprietary WRGB OLED technology.  The mammoth 77” headline model is the recipient of the highly-prized Best of Innovations at CES 2014 and is reported to be the World’s largest screen of its kind.

The colour temperature of each pixel is automatically controlled by the LG Colour Refiner, resulting in superior consistency and balance.  For high resolution viewing options, the 77EC980V and 65EC970V are equipped with LG’s own True 4K Engine Pro, which can upscale SD, HD or Full HD content into near-4K picture quality.

LG are calling these TVs “future-proof” (we would hope so at this price!) as they able to decode broadcast signals in both H.264 and HEVC H.265 formats, at 30p or 60p. A built-in decoder also makes it possible to display ULTRA HD 4K content from external devices connected via the TV’s HDMI, USB or LAN ports.

Side view of the TV
Side view of the TV

The folks over at The Register were recently invited to check out the TVs at a press event in London.  Overall their first impression appears to be favourable, with the reviewer stating that vivid, faithful colours and image clarity aside, what you also get are great viewing angles regardless of whether it’s 4K or Full HD” but as he also points out: “[…]at these prices, that’s precisely what you’d expect. 

Putting aside their concerns of the over-used display model, the team at HDTVtest were also generally in praise of these latest TVs from LG stating that:

We’d seen a lot of the demo material previously on 4K LED LCDs, and while the resolution was the same on both, the impact generated by OLED display technology was in a different league.

Guide retail prices are £19,999 for the 77” and £5,999 for the 65” LG Curved ULTRA HD 4K OLED TVs. As mentioned before, both models are set to be available “from October”.

LG’s LAP340 SoundPlate – sound without the fury

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The main problem with today’s flat screen TVs is that, because they lack the cabinet of the old CRT models, you tend to get pretty weedy sound from their built-in speakers. This accounts for the popularity of multi-speaker home cinema systems but they have their own problems with a mass of ugly cables which you need to hide or risk the cat getting tangled in them.

If you want decent sound but like to keep things neat, tidy and feline friendly then the answer is a soundbar that sits below the screen. LG has released a new take on this with its SoundPlate LAP340, a sleek 35mm high device with wireless connectivity that sits under your TV stand but still packs a powerful 4.1 channel punch with dual subwoofers.

Nobody has yet had the hands on – or should that be ears-on? – time to do a full review but initial impressions seem positive. Whilst comparing the device to a large ice cream sandwich (not sure where you get your black ice cream, guys) Trusted Reviews said, “In the noisy showroom floor, the Sound Plate cranked up to maximum volume delivers a satisfyingly powerful grunt of sound. It was so loud and powerful that it managed to knock the remote sitting on top of the Plate out of its display stand.”

It’s natural to worry when standing your pride and joy widescreen TV on top of another box but they didn’t think there’s be a problem, “The 55-inch LG TV on its metal stand looked secure on the system and didn’t show any noticeable signs of strain from the weight of the television.”

Trusted Reviews summed up their preview saying, “It’s a great speaker solution if you don’t have space to mount a soundbar on the wall or room for a separate subwoofer. Most importantly, it has the sound performance to match the chic, minimalist, space-saving design home cinema enthusiasts will surely love.”

What Hi-Fi? was impressed by the wireless capability, “The LG SoundPlate can be connected to the TV wirelessly (handy if your telly is wall mounted), or using a single cable if you prefer a wired connection. Bluetooth is included as standard so users can stream audio from smartphones, laptops and tablets to the SoundPlate.”

Gizmodo too seemed to be worried about how well the unit would cope with larger sets, “The Sound Plate is 35mm high and is designed to hide underneath a flat-screen TV up to 55-inches in size. Anything larger and presumably the base will be too wide, and the TV too heavy.”

LG claims that the SoundPlate automatically adjusts its mode, “to make every line of dialogue on the user’s favourite news and entertainment shows easier to hear…” Good news for those who complain that you can’t hear the actors for the background music. Whilst at the same time its movie mode offers, “convincing” surround sound.

Due out later this month with a price tag of £349 the SoundPlate looks like it could be a tempting piece of kit.

Life’s Good: LG 2013 Product Showcase

LG-84-inches

LG invited us to take a look at their plans for our living room for 2013. Whilst we didn’t enjoy their choice of curtains, they had some amazing suggestions for audio/visual equipment.

The future’s looking pretty clever, with 90% of LG’s upcoming TV and AV roadmap Smart-enabled. Smartphones have really set the bar quite high for this version of artificial intelligence so it’s good to see manufacturers stepping up to this challenge. We covered LG’s magic remote when it was launched but it’s impressive having a first-hand play with the 3D gestures and voice commands. LG’s Smart TV platform still hasn’t quite make social media on TVs useful, but the automatic inclusion of streaming services such as iPlayer, LoveFilm and Netflix is delightful and speaks to a more modern way to consume content. LG were also keen to show off their range of second-screen options that enabled you to move your content around the house – the living room of the future may be the kitchen, or garden or wherever you happen to be. LG were keen to show off their monster 84-inch ULTRA HD TV (LM960V), which is available to buy in the UK now. The LA960W was far more modest at 47- and 55 inches and beautifully designed.

LG-Magic-Remote-Hand

But great looks are nothing without great sound and LG had a range of home cinema options for us to play with. The BH9430OW is a classic surround sound set-up, the kind which I actually see less and less of these days. Bundled with a 3D BluRay player, the system cranks out 1460W of power through aramid fibre speaker cones, for crisp sound. The two rear satellite speakers are wireless, which is a boon for those hoping for a clutter-less environment. The 3D sounds is impressive, but it’s hard to gauge if it’s a distraction or part of an immersive experience in a media showcase setting. The NB4530A was LG’s take on the increasingly popular soundbar. At just 35 mm the 310 W soundbar can comfortably blend into most homes and can wirelessly sync with your TV or smartphone and even comes with a wireless subwoofer (we’re keen on anything that cuts down on cable clutter!).

LG-CM-Micro-System

As music lovers, we also enjoyed the CM2630DAB, even though a CD playing hi-fi system felt incredibly old-fashioned, despite the inclusion of Bluetooth streaming and USB connection. Our modern-minds felt much more at home with the ND8630 Dual Docking station, that works with Android and Apple devices. The ND8630 has Bluetooth and Airplay streaming and NFC connectivity, all so you can access its 80w of rich sound.

CM2630DAB:£199
NB4530A: £349
BH9430OW: £699

Image courtesy of Twitter user @jegarharp

LG Pocket Photo: All the News that’s Fit to Print

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Until fairly recently, domestic printers were bulky and cumbersome devices that were hardly renowned for their portability. By contrast, the brand new LG Pocket Photo is small enough to slip into a coat pocket, resembling an external hard drive rather than a printer. Yet despite its understated appearance, this elegant silver box is capable of delivering stunning 3” by 2” hard copies of images taken on smartphones and mobile devices.

Rather than approaching it as a conventional printer, it’s perhaps better to think of LG’s Pocket Photo as a futuristic alternative to the instant camera. Pictures taken on portable devices can be sent wirelessly to the Pocket Photo via either Bluetooth or Near Field Communication, before being printed out using an ingenious inkless printing technique from a company called ZINK, whose name is an abbreviation of the words “zero ink”.

Until now, one of the main drawbacks of smartphone photography has been the difficulties involved in obtaining a hard copy. Printing pictures out on a home computer has required hardwire connections and data transfers, while in-store photo booths are increasingly being hampered by the lack of removable SD or data cards in many modern devices. By contrast, the Pocket Photo should work with any Android or iOS-powered equipment, once the proprietary app has been installed. Users can make basic modifications to their pictures or embed QR codes before sending them to print, while the Pocket Photo can even upload images directly onto social media platforms and websites.

Having debuted in Korea late last year, the LG Pocket Photo made its UK bow at the Gadget Show Live, and it is scheduled to go on sale here later this month. Pricing and availability will be confirmed closer to the launch date.

MWC 2013 Preview: What to Expect from Samsung, Nokia and LG

MWC-entrance

Mobile World Congress 2013 kicks off tomorrow in Spain, Barcelona, and to whet your appetite for some shiny new tech we thought we take a look at who is likely to be grabbing the headlines when the show kicks off Feb 25-29.

Samsung
While Samsung’s flagship S4 smartphone won’t be making an appearance, it has been rumoured that the Korea tech giant will be unveiling a slew of new tablets.

The first one is the much rumoured Galaxy Note 8, which is expected to get an official unveil at the show. Unlike Samsung’s Tab line of tablets, the Note 8 takes its design cues from its smaller brother, the Note II. The tablet is expected to be finished in the same Marble White and will be sporting a home button and back/menu touch buttons bellow the display, which means that device is expected to be held mostly in portrait, like a phone, rather than landscape.

The tablet is thought to be sporting a rear and front-facing camera, and there’s obviously a slot for an S Pen stylus. It’s thought the device is expected to target the mid-range market with a price tag of around £300-£350. The tablet is expected to be sporting an 8-inch HD display, 2GB of RAM and a 1.6GHz quad-core processor.

We’re expecting the Note 8 to go toe-to-toe with Apple’s iPad Mini and Google’s Nexus 7, although it may be priced more closely to Apple’s offering than Google’s.

Samsung is also said to be preparing to launch a third generation of Android-based Galaxy Tab tablets, starting with 7-inch and 10-inch models that will make appearances at Mobile World Congress too.

Nokia
Nokia has announced a press conference for 25 February, which is right at the beginning of the Mobile World Congress. Although there is no further information about this announcement, it can be assumed that is going to be about new devices and services.

According to the latest rumours, Nokia will introduce at least one new high-end smartphone codenamed Catwalk. It’s thought it will have an aluminium chasis that’s will differentiate it from the current raft of Lumias on offer. Also, there is another model, codenamed Eos, which could come with Nokia’s PureView camera technology. Last year at MWC, Nokia unveiled their 808 PureView, a Symbian device with a camera resolution of 41 megapixels, so is Nokia planning to bring that tech to it’s Lumia range? We’ll know more next week.

Another rumour doing the rounds lately suggest that Nokia is developing a tablet based on Windows RT, with the possibility that the device will be unveiled at MWC.

The rumour came about after a video showing Nokia’s Music+ app on a tablet was quickly removed from a recent YouTube promotional video – leading many to speculate that the company has a tablet in preparation.

LG
With a lot announcements happening at MWC, a lot of manufacturers will be looking to show off their wares at pre-show events in order to try and navigate the impending tech quagmire.And that’s what LG has done with a teaser posted to their Facebook page showing off a new Otimus Prime G smartphone.

Although the official details for the 5.5-inch handset are light, early rumours suggest that a quad-core 1.7GHz processor, 2GB of RAM and a 13-megapixel camera are in order.

The LG Optimus G Pro will find a home in South Korea in the coming weeks. It is unclear what other markets might offer the new smartphone. We hope to learn the full details of the new line of Optimus handsets at Mobile World Congress later this month.

LG Magic Remote: Pick Witch channel to watch

Just as he who controls the Spice controls the universe, he who controls the remote controls the living room. And if you’ve seen My Neighbours the Yamadas you’ll know the almost magical power the remote control can have in the living room. LG are aware of the levels of reverence necessary for the device and have announced an all-new Magic Remote for its CINEMA 3D Smart TV range.

Magic-Remote

“Magic” seems a bit farfetched for a plastic stick with a couple of buttons on it. Fortunately the remotes does much more than that and utilises voice, gesture, point and wheel control to exercise commands.

Apple raised the bar for voice technology, simply by claiming that Siri was magic and putting the (often disappointing) technology in the hands of millions of eager customers. Voice recognition is fast being integrated into all manner of devices and expectations go far beyond barking simple commands like “Shields Up!” or “Engage”. LG Magic Remote uses new Natural Language Recognition software makes giving voice commands as easy as regular speech – users can simply say “Show me Gangnam Style video” and the new Magic Remote will understand that you are about to show off your horse riding dance skills to your mates.

“LG is committed to providing innovative home entertainment solutions and the Magic Remote is a key pillar of the CINEMA 3D Smart TV user experience. Building on an already impressive feature set, the latest version boasts accurate language recognition and its gesture, wheel and point control options makes the Magic Remote stand out amongst its competition as a truly intuitive device.”
Havis Kwon, President and CEO of the LG Electronics Home Entertainment Company

Too many remotes clutter the desks and tables of people around the land so it’s a relief to know that devices ranging from Smart TVs, set-top boxes, sound bars and Blu-ray players can be effectively managed with just one Magic Remote in the living room.

With the point feature, the LG Magic Remote becomes an extension of the human body, making it an ideal motion-based video game controller. The wheel control is perfect for scrolling up and down web pages or zooming in and out when using applications such as Google Maps. And by making specific gestures with the remote, users can quickly access oft-used menus or perform frequently needed functions, which might be a little faster but is also a fun gimmick.

LG takes viewing to another level with new OLED TV

LG has unveiled their new “Ultimate Display” OLED TV at Monaco’s Sale des Etoiles. Measuring an impressive 55-inches, the TV is the world’s largest and slimmest OLED TV, and LG officials have vowed that they will be the first company to make the sets available to European consumers in the second half of the year.

OLED-TV

Based on WRGB technology, LG’s latest product is the result of years of research. LG are no strangers to the OLED TV market – they released the first OLED set back in 2009. Their newest creation boasts a set of appealing specs and features, including LG’s 4-Colour Pixel technology, a Colour Refiner, Smart TV capabilities, and the company’s CINEMA 3D technology. The TV’s slim silhouette is thanks to carbon fibre reinforced plastics, which enabled the company to create a final product that has a thickness of only 4mm and weighs 10kg.

“In the history of television, there have been very few innovations as impactful as the coming of OLED TV. We say THE ULTIMATE DISPLAY because LG OLED TV is truly above all expectations and beyond everyone’s imagination with uncompromising picture quality and beautiful design. This year, we plan to make OLED synonymous with LG” said Havis Kwon, President and CEO of LG’s Home Entertainment Company.

OLEDs differ from LCD or LED displays by creating their own light, and so eliminating the need for any backlighting.

“With OLED TV leading our premium product line-up in Europe, we have a very strong case to become the number one TV brand in this region. Until that day, we will continue to develop the products that have made us the most innovative home entertainment company in the industry,” said Stanley Cho, head of LG’s Europe Operations.

The 55-inch OLED TV is just one of several new products released as part of LG’s summer range. With a focus on smart technology, LG are a competitive force in the TV market this year, and are reaffirming their place as a popular premium technology brand.