LG Optimus 3D vs Nintendo 3DS

LG recently confirmed its much rumoured Optimus 3D handset which enables three-dimensional viewing, without the need for any specs and we were able to get a close-up look at the Barcelona-based MWC mobile tech show.

Obviously we're not really comparing like for like by measuring it up to the Nintendo 3DS, as one is a phone and one a dedicated games machine. But, as the only two pocket-sized 3D devices on the horizon, what we want to know is - is the LG Optimus 3D good enough to carry around in your pocket instead of a Nintendo 3DS? Or will you still need to cart around two separate 3D devices for the timebeing? Read on to find out.

 

Dimensions

Tie: Nintendo 3DS
134 x 73 x 20mm, 226g
Tie: LG Optimus 3D
Unknown



One thing that we don't for definite yet about the Optimus, is exactly how big it will be. At 134 x 73 x 20mm, the 3DS is only slightly smaller than the DSi, although it is slightly heavier. It's pretty compact, even for a pocket gaming console, but we'd be very surpised if the Optimus 3D wasn't smaller still, considering that its primary function is as a mobile phone (despite sporting a larger screen). What's more, we've never met a smartphone that breaks the 200g mark for mass, so we'd be very surprised if the Optimus 3D lost out here. All the same, for the time being, this one ends in a draw.


Display

1st: LG Optimus 3D
4.3-inch, 3D, 800x480
2nd: Nintendo 3DS
3.53-inch, 3D, 800x240



Screens on smartphones are getting bigger all the time, so it's no suprise that the 3D-capable display on the Optimus measures in at 4.3 inches - a fair bit bigger than the 3.53-inch screen found on the 3DS. The LG sports an 800x400-pixel resolution, with the slightly smaller 3DS display offering 800x240 pixels. Obviously both screens offer glasses-free 3D that will have a very limited viewing angle due to the nature of the lenticular 3D technology that's on board. The 3DS also has a non-3D resistive touch panel with a resolution of 320×240 pixels, but this round has to go to the Optimus.

 

Engine room

Winner: LG Optimus 3D
1GHz Dual-Core OMAP4, 4GB RAM, SGX540 GPU (LP DDR2)
loser: Nintendo 3DS
2x 266MHz ARM11 processors, 64MB RAM, PICA200 GPU



This is a difficult round to call as obviously apart from the 3D capabilities, the two devices have completely different primary functions. The Optimus 3D runs on a 1GHz Dual-Core OMAP4 chipset, and offers an SGX540 graphics chip. It also plays host to a whopping 4GB of RAM which should be plenty for coping with all of the phone's basic functions as well as the 3D visuals. The chip is certainly more powerful than the Tegra 2 dual-core processor, but can they live up to the 3DS's dedicated gaming wizardry?

CPU for the 3DS haven't been officially confirmed, but pre-launch rumours suggest that it runs on two 266MHz ARM11 processors with 64 of RAM. What we do know is that the 3DS is based on a custom PICA200 graphics processor. This reportedly offers 800 million pixels a second, while the LG's graphics chip (SGX540) is said to offer 1,000 million. We won't know for sure how speedy they are until we get both units in for a full review, but the LG currently looks the best on paper.

 

Connectivity

1st: LG Optimus 3D
3G, Wi-Fi, GPS, DLNA, HDMI
2nd: Nintendo 3DS
Wi-Fi



Comparing connectivity between a mobile phone and gaming device is like comparing apples and oranges but with handhelds like the Sony NGP beginning to push the boundaries, those oranges are going to need to start growing storks and a core pretty soon. All the same, it's no surprise that the Optimus 3D comes out on top. Not only does it have the standard 3G and Wi-Fi, it also benefits from GPS and DLNA - a handy feature for streaming content between compatible devices. It's also got an HDMI 1.4 port for hooking up to a compatible TV. Apart from a 3DS/DS games slot and and SD card port, the 3DS only offers Wi-Fi. What that means is that you can play against other people, whether they're in the same room or on the other side of the world. You can even leave the Wi-Fi connected so that the device can automatically exchange data with other 3DS systems or receive data from the internet while it's in sleep mode. Nice as that is though, it's all that the 3DS has got.

 

Gaming

1st: Nintendo 3DS
15 launch games
2nd: LG Optimus 3D
3 launch games


Gaming is what the Nintendo 3DS has been made for, so it's bound to do pretty well in this category. It's equipped with the familiar D-pad, four y, x, a, b buttons as well as start and select configuration from the DSi, along with a new analogue joystick and a Home button that will take you straight back to the home screen. Along with the obvious 3D capability it offers a motion sensor and gyroscope for phyisical three-dimensional gaming too. There's a fairly meaty selection of games due for launch day, and of course the 3DS is backwards compatible with the DSi, so you'll have access to all of the existing games as well, albeit in a non-3D capacity.

The Optimus 3D will ship with three pre-loaded games from Gameloft: Nova, Let’s Golf 2, and Asphalt 6, but obviously we expect to see more games trickle through after launch. In terms of 2D games, there are already thousands available, thanks to Android Market, but obviously the quality of a lot of these gaming apps won't be any competition for the mechanics behind the 3DS games. It really depends what you're after as to which device is best. If you want stuff like Angry Birds then the Optimus will be just fine, if want some more complex gaming options, then the 3DS certainly has the edge.

 

3D

Tie: Nintendo 3DS
Autostereoscopic 3D
Tie: LG Optimus 3D
Autostereoscopic 3D



Both companies are remaining tight-lipped on the precise 3D technology that's being used, but it's fairly clear that both devices use a lenticular, autosterscopic system, which means that you don't need to wear any special glasses. The 3DS includes a slider switch that enables you to change the strength of the 3D image to suit your eyes. Instead of a slider switch, the Optimus has a dedicated 3D button - one press and you're seeing things in the third dimension. Either way, both appear to be doing the job but we'll let you know if one's streets ahead when we get them pinned down in the Pocket-lint labs.

 

Video

1st: LG Optimus 3D
5MP 3D and 2D video capture
2nd: Nintendo 3DS
0.3MP 2D video capture



LG's Optimus 3D offers some pretty cool 3D video capabilities as it enables you to watch, as well as capture three-dimensional footage, using the 5-megapixel dual lens camera. The Optimus also enables you to upload 3D video straight from the phone to YouTube without the need for a computer. As well as taking 3D video at 720p (MPEG/H.264), the Optimus also captures and plays back 2D video at 1080p.

While the Nintendo 3DS is capable of taking 3D snaps, it can't currently capture 3D video footage although the internal 0.3-megapixel camera can take 2D footage. However, it can show 3D videos and the manufacturer has signed deals with BSkyB, Eurosport and Wallace and Gromit animators Aardman studios to bring short clips of their content to the console. Using the console's SpotPass functionality, clips can be zapped onto the 3DS via Wi-Fi even if you aren't using the device at the time. The Japanese games company has also signed a deal with BT in the UK to allow the handheld to connect automatically with any of its many hotspots around the country. 3D video capture is rumoured to be on the cards in the future.

 

Stills

1st: LG Optimus 3D
5MP 3D images
2nd: Nintendo 3DS
0.3MP 3D images



Camera capabilities have become more and more important on smartphones, and people now expect a decent snapper as standard. The inclusion of a 5-megapixel dual lens camera on the Optimus means that you'll be able to take 3D snaps as well as conventional 2D pictures.

The 3DS is blessed with two cameras on the outside of the casing that are capable of taking 3D and 2D photos. There's also a camera on the inside, above the top screen, that can take 2D photos and video. All the cameras on the 3DS offer a resolution of 640x480 pixels (0.3 megapixels). It's no surprise that the camera capabilities of the LG are slightly better than those of the 3DS and the Nintendo's cameras will largely be used for in-game snaps, rather than taking pictures while out and about, like you would with a phone.

 

Features

1st: LG Optimus 3D
Android Market, multimedia playback etc
2nd: Nintendo 3DS
Messaging System, internet browser etc



As well as all the normal features that you'd associate with an Android handset such as a customisable home screen, access to the Android Market app store and more basic functions such as text messaging and voice calling, the Optimus 3D also offers playback of a range of multimedia codecs including M-PEG4 (H.264), H.263, DivX, MKV, WMV-9, ASF, AVI, 3GP, and MP4. Initially shipping with Froyo, the handset will be upgradable to Gingerbread.

The 3DS also offers a few extras outside of gaming remit, such as the Messaging System that replaces PictoChat from previous models and enables users to send and receive messages via the Nintendo Wi-Fi connection. The 3DS will also include an internet browser that will be available by download some time after launch.

Price

1st: nintendo 3ds
£219
2nd: lg optimus 3d
Unknown



Price is a difficult area to compare when you're looking at two completely types of product. Due out on 25 March in Europe, the 3DS is being offered for £219 by retailers in the UK, while the Optimus 3D has yet to be given a price. Obviously the cost of the handset will depend on the deals offered by the networks - with Three, Vodafone and Orange confirmed so far as carriers. Although we don't have an exact launch date for the Optimus 3D just yet, it's set to land in Q2 and will no doubt come with a premium price that will far higher than that of the 3DS. We'll update you on pricing as soon as we know but if it's affordability that's important to you, then it's the 3DS all the way.

 

Conclusions

The Optimus 3D and the Nintendo 3Ds are currently the only 3D-capable portable devices out there so it seems appropriate to compare them, despite the obvious differences between the two products. While the 3DS is primarily a gaming device and the Optimus is first and foremost a mobile phone, both are going to appeal because of their 3D skills. While they each look like decent products in their own right, do you really need both of them and, more to the point, which is the one you're actually after? The Optimus 3D comes outs on top in a lot of the categories listed here, but it's not always all about the specs.

If it's 3D gaming that you want then the 3DS, unsurprisingly, looks like the best bet, mainly because of the availability and quality of content. As it's a dedicated console made by one of the biggest gaming brands in the world, it comes as no shock that there's a big selection of games due for launch day, with lots more to follow, while the Optimus has only currently annonced three games that will be available on the handset at launch plus whatever low quality options you can dig up off the Android Market.

However, the Optimus offers a better 3D experience when it comes to capture and straight video consumption. There's a bigger screen as well a better quality camera that can take 3D stills and 3D video. The LG also wins on its wide-ranging connectivity, while the 3DS can only muster Wi-Fi.

If you're a serious gamer then it's unlikely that the Optimus is going to take the place of the 3DS, because of the games. However, if the casual side of things (Angry Birds, anyone?) is enough for you and you don't want to carry two gadgets around in your bag then we reckon that the Optimus could certainly be used as a gaming device as well as a phone, meaning that you won't need to shell out on the 3DS as well.

Don't miss out - follow all the announcements from the show at Pocket-lint's MWC 2011 page.