Optimus One LG-P500 : Reviewed

The LG Optimus One promises all the thrills of Android 2.2 at an affordable price and without much compromise.
WHILE it may seem odd to describe an Android 2.2-powered smartphone as an affordable, no-frills device, that's precisely what the LG Optimus One LG-P500 is.
Although it's armed to the teeth with an array of technological acronyms and probably has a kitchen sink stashed somewhere in there, it doesn't exactly shout "Pick me!" as your eyes glaze over the sea of other budget Android phones in the market.
Of course, it probably doesn't help that it looks identical to the rest of them too. But let's give it a chance and power it up, shall we?

Mostly regular
Unlike some other Android phones, the Optimus One doesn't have any weird manufacturer-imposed customisations made to its Home screen. Whether that's a plus or minus to you, at least it doesn't get in the way.
POWER UP:The port at the bottom lets you charge the Optimus one while it syncs with your PC. It's a proprietary plug though.
Browsing through the app screen, you can see a bunch of preinstalled 3rd party apps such as NDrive for car navigation, ThinkFree Office for document editing and TasKiller for killing apps (and freeing up more RAM).
And on the social networking and connectivity front, you've got apps for Facebook and Twitter, along with built-in apps for Gmail, Google Chat and YouTube.
Nothing out of the ordinary - just letting you know that it's there and it works well. The only other thing that's bespoke is the LG software keyboard, which is supposed to be an improvement over the standard Android keyboard.
Real estate
Speaking of which, the Optimus One's 3.2in LCD is a little too small for typing on a portrait-oriented Qwerty keyboard. Doesn't look much smaller than the 3.5in screens on some other touchscreen smartphones but it does make a difference when your thumbs are big enough to cover several virtual buttons at the same time.
Good thing that the LG software keyboard has pretty effective word-prediction and auto-correction, then.
It's a bit on the slow side, though, so you may end up waiting for the software to catch up if you're a fast typist. The LG keyboard also does handwriting recognition for Chinese, though I can't comment on how good it is.
The weird thing, though, is that the standard Android keyboard's text prediction is disabled; it doesn't seem to have access to the system's language dictionaries. So if you want word prediction, the LG keyboard it is.
But when you're not typing on it, the 3.2in LCD is big enough for other stuff like messaging, web browsing and so on. It has pretty good viewing angles too, and you'll only get inverted colours or weird hue shifts at extreme angles.
With a bit of care, the LCD is readable in bright sunlight too. And last, but not least, it's pretty resistant to fingerprints, which is a big plus in my book.
Generally the Optimus One feels snappy enough. You won't spend much time waiting for apps to open or for thumbnail galleries to be displayed.
However, you will see the odd stutter or two when there's a lot happening on screen, like when you're browsing through thumbnails or scrolling through web pages.
It's particularly noticeable when playing games. Or at least when I tried Angry Birds, which is the only game I tested on the Optimus One.
The frame rate tends to shift between okay to slideshow-slow for no apparent reason.
Even killing off other processes and apps with the bundled TasKiller app doesn't solve the problem. I'm thinking that the slightly anaemic 600MHz processor has something to do with it.
Battery life is pretty good. Didn't do any scientific tests, but it will easily last a couple of days of furious Web surfing, text messaging, GPS navigating, photo taking and game playing, with some juice to spare.
Like most smartphones, it charges via its USB port, which is cool.
GPS navigation
The A-GPS unit in the Optimus One is quick enough to get an initial satellite lock within seconds, though it sometimes lags for close to a minute if you're sandwiched between tall buildings or are seated beneath a tree.
The Optimus One comes preloaded with a navigation app called NDrive, which comes with maps for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.
It's an okay navigation system, though it sometimes comes up with really weird routes and its voiced directions can sometimes be confusing.
It's a bit hard to use too, and it insists that you use its own non-Qwerty keyboard to input addresses, which is annoying. Here's hoping that Google Maps Navigation gets official support in Malaysia soon.
POINT AND SHOOT: The 3-megapixel camera has an autofocus lens.
The Optimus One has a 3-megapixel autofocus camera on its back. It takes fairly decent photographs in daylight (for a phone), though it definitely wouldn't replace your dedicated point-and-shoot.
It's fine for Facebook uploads and small 4R prints, but the narrow dynamic range results in easily clipped highlights and photos that look a little too contrasty. Autofocusing is a little on the slow side too.
In other words, it's a typical phone camera. It also shoots video at VGA (640 x 480-pixel) resolution though at a weird, choppy frame rate of 18 fps.
Audio is encoded in 8KHz AMR compression, so it sounds rather low fidelity too. So, no, it won't replace your camcorder either.
So there you have it. The LG Optimus One P500 is decent, budget Android phone that may not set the world on fire, but does its job competently and without any major annoyances.
And thanks to Android 2.2 (Froyo), it's got quite a lot of nice usability touches going for it.
Pros: Affordable; long battery life; feature-packed; Froyo; good word-prediction with LG software keyboard; decent LCD.
Cons: Sluggish performance for games; screen a little small for keyboard in portrait mode; camera could be better.
Optimus One LG-P500
Network: GSM 850/900/1800/1900, HSDPA 900/2100
CPU: 600MHz
OPERATING SYSTEM: Android 2.2 (Froyo) DISPLAY: 3.2in capacitive touchscreen (320 x 480-pixels)
CAMERA: 3-megapixels with autofocus; VGA-quality video recording (640 x 480-pixels, MPEG4 at 18fps)
CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth, WiFi, USB 2.0
MEMORY: 512MB SDRAM; 170MB Flash memory
EXPANSION SLOT: MicroSD (2GB included)
STANDBY/TALK TIME: 550 hours/7.5 hours
DIMENSIONS (W x D x H): 59 x 113.5 x 13.3mm
WEIGHT: 129g
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