Oct 22, 2010

The LG GT540 Optimus mobile

I bought myself this phone just to try out Android. Some initial impressions...

It came with Android 1.6 but I managed to update that to 2.1 with the ROM intended for Baltic states. The official ROM for Singapore is not out yet. Takes a bit of hacking and lots of prayers as it is easy to 'brick' the brand new set, but luckily it worked.

For those long used to the Microsoft world of each update becoming considerably slower on same hardware, and sometimes barely usable, Android 2.2 is a surprise, it runs faster than 1.6 on the same phone...

Why this particular model?

  1. It is cheap - I could get one on the net for S$250 brand new. Which means I can afford to hack it or do things that I would not do with a Galaxy S that costs thrice as much.
  2. It is the right size - 3.2 inch screen - any smaller internet is unusable, any larger it becomes a nuisance to carry around if you are used to small phones..at least from my perspective..While on this topic, isn't it strange that we spent much of the last decade developing smaller and smaller  mobiles only to reverse course?! I remember the Motorola StarTAC which was advertised as the smallest mobile, back when mobiles were the size of bricks, and used to cost S$3,000+. Now big is back in fashion again...
  3. It is from LG - I believe the No.1 in any market is arrogant, the No. 2 competes but still tends to be pricey as they dont want to be seen cheap, and the No. 3 or 4 tries hard and prices sharp. Hence LG. And I was not disappointed. This is my first LG device. They are moving up from the 'yet another oriental brand' to somewhere near Samsung level...
  4. It has features you need...and features that look nice on reviews but you rarely use are cleverly left out. Example HDMI output. Do I want to use the crappy lens used in mobiles to take serious video and project it on screen 10 times bigger? Even still shots on mobile are bad when compared to even the cheapest of dedicated cameras
  5. We normally buy expensive phones because they have expensive features (8 Megapixel camera!) but then end up carrying dedicated devices anyway - so what is the point. For instance all of us normally have a digital camera, a MP3 player, e-book reader, netbook or IPAD and so on...so what is the point of trying to have each device do whatever the other does? So I tend to buy each device for what it does best..
Interestingly, LG has also released the entire source code of the handset in the open...which is great for hackers and programmers who want to learn the nuts and bolts of Android - I have no time for that...

Tips for gadget buyers (from long experience)

1. Decide the maximum screen size you are comfortable with - no point having a gizmo that you can't lug round. This applies to many things - netbooks, readers, mp3, phones, even laptops.
2. There are always compromises. Decide them in advance. List out features you really use or plan to use.  How do you use them? Where? In rain/sun/indoors and so on..
3. Most gadgets these days support USB cable charging with micro-USB becoming the de-facto standard. I can charge my phone, my wife's, my Nook all with one charger. However, it is still common to have to carry around several chargers. This means if you travel often, stick to gadgets that can last long on a charge and support standard chargers. It is very expensive to buy chargers in a hurry.
4. Resale value - this is very important if you often trade in stuff or sell them on the net, like I do. Keep earphones in original cover if not used, original box, cables, receipt, stickers etc., they enhance the resale value. 

More on this later...

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