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LG joins the fray

SonyEricsson. Motorola. Samsung. HTC. Think of Android phones, and you think of some of the world's largest phone-makers - though not, of course, the largest, Nokia. And when it comes to tablets, it's been widely assumed the same companies would dominate - after all, Motorola, the company that kickstarted the Android market with the 'Droid, also produced the first 'real' Android tablet in the form of the Xoom.

And yet, a shake-up like the coming of Android is the perfect chance for less well-known players to make a big impact on the market. And so it has been: a lesser-known Korean rival to Samsung, LG, has just come out with what might well be the best Android phone and tablet on the market.

You might know LG as makers of microwaves, but they've been in the phone market for a while. But they've always tended to play at the budget end of the spectrum. For the smartphone market, though, they've gone agressive on specs. The Optimus 2X, as it's known in Europe (it's the T-Mobile G2X in the US for some reason), is one of the first smartphones to hit the market with a dual-core processor, like you might find in a modern computer. That means it can get up to a whopping 2GHz of processor power. It also packs an 8MP camera and 1080p video recording, and a not-quite-iPhone-but-still-pretty-impressive 800x480 4-in screen. MobileCrunch calls it 'perhaps the most powerful phone on the market.' It does have some flaws, though, notably that it's not yet running the latest 'Gingerbread' version of Android, so if you're tempted do read the review.

But who cares about phones? It's tablets we're all obsessed with now, right? Well, LG have really stepped up to the plate there, too. Their T-Mobile G-Slate - which will probably be called the Optimus Slate when it comes to Europe (spot the pattern?) is only the second tablet to hit the market carrying Google's Android 3.0 'Honeycomb' version designed for tablets. And unlike Motorola's unwieldy 10-inch Xoom, it's got an 8.9in screen, a size compromise which we're increasingly thinking is where the tablet market is going to settle. And as CrunchGear points out, 'the G-Slate seems to avoid many of the problems that plagued the Xoom. At the very least, the 8.9-inch T-Mobile G-Slate has Flash out of the box and I was able to browse and use many Flash widgets. The Tegra 2 1GHz Dual-Core processor seems to handle everything you could throw at it on that front.'

Of course, the G-Slate isn't perfect either, so again, read the review before you buy - though you'll be waiting a few weeks for it to come to the UK anyway. But it's good to see a lesser-known manufacturer really stepping up their game in the Android race. Competition can only be good for consumers, right?

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