Tech companies are no strangers to the game of follow the leader — industry imitation is, after all, the sincerest sign of a successful product. In the case of the Galaxy Note, Samsung’s phablet wonder has been enjoying some unexpected popularity in markets abroad and even here in the US. But the company’s ownership of that once-niche category is about to be contested by a surge of copycats, spearheaded by the stylus-toting LG Optimus Vu ($866 unlocked). It should go without saying: this 5-inch not-a-smartphone, not-yet-a-tablet has a steep climb ahead if it wants to oust or even claim equal billing with its successful opponent.
Of course, the Vu isn’t launching an attack on all fronts yet as, right now it’s a Korea-only affair running Android Gingerbread. (It redeems itself somewhat with an LTE radio.) Though the competition is welcome, the duel is not an even one, given the Vu’s unusual mix of internals: a 1,024 x 768 HD-IPS LCD display, dual-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon processor, 32GB of non-expandable storage, an ample 2,080mAh battery and a region-specific T-DMB TV tuner. But could that be enough to dethrone the current category king, or at least present a viable alternative? Join us after the break as we crack this rectangular nut and winnow out the marketing noise.
Gallery: LG Optimus Vu review