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LG hits the G-round running

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Korean electronics manufacturer LG has spent the last two years proving its high-tech credentials as a smartphone technology leader. With the release of the G4, it is ready for more, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

When the LG G4 smartphone arrives in South African stores in mid-June, it won’t dazzle the market with the latest in technology breakthroughs. That would be so, like, yesterday, for a brand that has already shown its technology smarts, with advances ranging from 3D visuals several years ago to curved  screens over the past year.

This time round, LG wants to impress the market with something more basic: market share.

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While specific sales figures for South Africa have not been released, LG says the G3 sold double the number of the G2, and the target for the G4 is to double up again on the G2. To put that in context, the most recent market research from World Wide Worx and GeoPoll shows that LG has about 2,7 per cent market share in South Africa, almost exactly on a par with Sony. While other LG models contribute to that share, doubling G3 sales with the G4 will contribute significantly.

LG has something of a hill to climb, though, as the intended next purchase of South African consumers, revealed in the same study, shows it dropping a percentage point and Sony rising substantially.

For this reason, the timing of a phone like the G4 could not be better. The latest G-round comes across as a culmination of several years of development, fine-tuning and learning from the customer.

On the most basic level, LG has repaired a flaw in its previous devices, namely an overtight SIM slot, which tended to shred SIM cards when they were swopped to other devices. It still has an old-style slide-in wire-frame SIM slot, but the fit is more comfortable, and not designed to prevent one from ever removing it. On such basic foundations are positive experiences built.

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It’s the first phone I’ve used where the switching process from one device has worked seamlessly, as advertised. Using NFC (Near Field Communications) on the phone, one holds it to another phone also running NFC to capture all settings, files and profile of installed apps.  Aside from a few prompts and logging into an e-mail account on the new device, it all happens automatically.

So far so similar to Samsung and HTC. The difference is that, once logged into Gmail or the Play Store, it begins automatically downloading all apps installed on the previous phone. With other devices, most have to be selected individually, and accepted one by one. The saving in time and energy can be enormous.

The user interface is also simpler and more satisfying than on most Android phones, thanks to an avoidance of “bloatware”, as proprietary software add-ons are known.

On the hardware side, the phone naturally also outdoes its predecessors but, more important, much of the competition.

Most noticeably, the battery is removable, and it has giant-sized 3000mAh capacity – allowing for full-day usage despite the large screen – in what has the appearance of a standard-sized battery.

The camera is especially impressive, and a quick test against the iPhone 6 Plus and MTN One M9 give it a clear edge. At F1.8, it has the widest aperture lens on a major brand phone in this market – edging out the F1.9 aperture of the Samsung Galaxy S6 – which means it lets in more light and allows for more precise focus. Unlike many comparisons between phone camera lenses, the difference here is obvious even to the untrained eye.

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The display dazzlingly sharp, in an environment where there is no longer such a thing as a screen that is NOT sharp. This is largely thanks to Quad HD resolution (four times high-definition, or 2,560 x 1,440 pixels) of its 5.5-inch display, and something called IPS Quantum Display, which allows for better control of the liquid crystals that make up the screen. More light is emitted, contrasts are sharper, and blacks are deeper, allowing for a richer, more defined colour.

Deon Prinsloo, General Manager LG Mobile, summed up the marketing position of the G4 like this: “We wanted to give consumers a truly human-centric device that combined the analog sensibilities with technologies that delivered real world performance. From the design to the camera to the display to the user interface, this is the most ambitious phone we’ve ever created.”

Hand-in-hand with LG’s highest ambitions yet for market presence, it takes the concept of “flagship phone” into a new category we can call the “standard-bearer phone”.

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The Specifications of the G4, as supplied by LG, are:

• Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon™ 808 Processor

• Display: 5.5-inch Quad HD IPS Quantum Display (2560 x 1440, 538ppi)

• Memory: 32GB eMMC ROM, 3GB LPDDR3 RAM / microSD slot

• Camera: Rear 16MP with F1.8 Aperture / OIS 2.0 / Front 8MP with F2.0 Aperture

• Battery: 3,000mAh (removable)

• Operating System: Android 5.1 Lollipop

• Size: 148.9 x 76.1 x 6.3 – 9.8 mm

• Weight: 155g

• Network: 4G / LTE / HSPA+ 21 Mbps (3G)

• Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a, b, g, n, ac / Bluetooth 4.1LE / NFC / USB 2.0

• Colours: (Ceramic) Metallic Gray / Ceramic White / Shiny Gold /

(Genuine Leather) Black / Brown / Red / Sky Blue / Beige / Yellow

• Other: Manual Mode / Gesture Interval Shot / Quick Shot

* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee, and subscribe to his YouTube channel at http://bit.ly/GGadgets

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CES: And thanks for all the beer!

Last week, the Las Vegas expo showed off its fun side with state-of-the-art technologies for making and enjoying beer, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From craft beer-making machines to robots that pour beer, CES had more beer than usual in Las Vegas last week. And even free beer if you found the right stand. Stampede’s saloon-style booth offered beer to visitors who tried out its latest drones, virtual reality, and other gaming products. No beer tech, though.

Here are some of the beer technologies that stood out:

LG HomeBrew – Craft beer made at home

LG’s HomeBrew craft beer-making machine,  debuted at CES 2019, brings the brewing process home thanks to single-use capsules,  a self-cleaning feature, and an algorithm optimised for fermentation. 

Like a Nespresso coffee machine, the beer maker uses capsules, which contain malt, yeast, hop oil and flavouring. At the press of a button, LG HomeBrew automates the whole procedure from fermentation and carbonation to ageing. A companion app lets users check HomeBrew’s status at any time during the process, from their handsets.

The beer machine not only offers a simple way to make craft beer, but also enhances the quality of beer it makes. The fermentation algorithm intelligently controls the fermenting process with precise temperature and pressure control. It automatically sanitises itself, using nothing more than hot water, ensuring everything is hygienically clean for the next batch.

Designed with discerning beer lovers in mind, HomeBrew allows for in-home production of batches of more than 4 litres of beer in a variety of styles. The following five distinctive, flavoured beers are available now: 

  • Hoppy American IPA
  • Golden American Pale Ale
  • Full-bodied English Stout
  • Zesty Belgian-style Witbier
  • Dry Czech Pilsner

The only catch? It takes about two weeks to make, depending on the beer type.

“LG HomeBrew is the culmination of years of home appliance and water purification technologies that we’ve developed over the decades,” said Dan Song, president of LG Electronics Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. “Homebrewing has grown at an explosive pace, but there are still many beer lovers who haven’t taken the jump because of the barriers to entry, like complexity, and these are the consumers we think will be attracted to LG HomeBrew.”

Click here to read about the party speaker that holds beer and robots that pour beer.

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CES: Alienware gets Legend-ary

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At CES in Las Vegas last week, Dell’s Alienware released a family of high-end, thin, light, and affordable machines for both amateur and professional gamers – and a new identity.

Alienware marked CES 2019 as a brand milestone with the debut of a new design identity, Alienware Legend. It aims to set a new bar of excellence for what gamers want most – performance and function. Alienware says it evaluated multiple concepts and chose one that was the biggest and boldest departure from its current look.

Alienware Legend, says the company, stays true to the brand’s core design tenets, taking cues from its deep roots in sci-fi culture and its early industrial designs, to distinguish the brand from the rest of the industry. The new Legend design is optimised with cutting-edge thermal cooling technology to achieve and sustain overclocking power, improved AlienFX lighting, and ultra-thin screen borders. It also unveiled a new “three-knuckle hinge” design that reduces the overall dimension while creating a stronger assembly, all combining to yield a better gaming experience.

“We’re excited to come to this year’s CES with some truly groundbreaking products, next-gen software and strategic partnerships that will bring more people to experience PC gaming and advance the industry,” said Frank Azor, vice president and general manager of Alienware. “The legend design answers the call for more and better from our gaming community, and the new G Series laptops will make PC gaming even more accessible to those looking for high-performance gaming at a cost they can appreciate.”

Click here to read about Alienware Legend in action with the Area-51m and m-series laptops

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