LG and Pantech, two companies that barely made a blip in the smart-phone world until recently, are churning out noteworthy models that earn high scores in Consumer Reports Ratings. Two of their most recent entries, the LG Optimus G Pro and Pantech Perception, have ultra-sharp displays, clever document-editing options, and intriguing features found on higher-priced rivals. Here are the details:
The LG Optimus G Pro (a $200 exclusive from AT&T) is essentially a supersized version of the Optimus G. The G Pro packs an excellent-quality 5.5-inch, high-definition (1080p), touch-screen display in a relatively thin case. The phone's giant screen invites comparisons to the popular—and pricier—Samsung Galaxy Note II. While it lacks the Note II's stylus and floating-preview options, it compensates with capabilities such as Quick Memo, a pull-down menu option app that lets you use your finger to scribble notes on anything you see on the screen. The finished "memo" becomes a picture that you can e-mail, text, or share on social networks.
In Smart screen mode, the front-facing camera monitors your eyes to prevent the screen from timing out. The QSlide feature makes videos float transparently behind other apps on the screen so that you can perform other tasks, such as send a text or browse the Web. The Optimus G Pro can be programmed to control compatible TVs, set-top boxes, Blu-ray players, and more.
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The camera has intriguing features. For example, when you use the main camcorder's digital zoom to zero in on one or two subjects in a group, the camera's microphone subtly increases the volume of the voices of those subjects while diminishing the sounds made outside the frame. Also, you can capture video simultaneously on the front and rear cameras, allowing you to appear, as an inset, within the video image recorded by the phone's main, rear-facing camera. The idea is to allow the shooter to be part of the video.
The Pantech Perception ($100 on Verizon) has a 4.8-inch, high-definition (720p), touch-screen display in a relatively thin case. Its Motion Sense feature lets you interact with the phone without touching it, so you can accept a phone call, move to another message, or flip through photos by waving your hand in front of the screen. However, these and other gestures might take some getting used to.
The Perception's Camnote feature lets you draw or write on photos with a finger. Smart phone novices will appreciate its Starter Mode interface, a simple path to the phone's many features. Time-saving features include an unlock circle that lets you jump directly to the phone, camera, or any one of four other functions from a locked screen. Also, flicking your finger upward from the bottom of the screen summons a tray of convenient shortcuts for adding apps, widgets, changing wallpaper, and accessing phone settings.
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