It seems phablets are all the rage, with their larger screens and combined smartphone-tablet capabilities. With Mobile World Congress kicking off in Barcelona next week, we could see quite a few such devices taking the scene. Picking up on a trend made popular by Samsung’s 5-inch Galaxy Note, both LG and Panasonic are expected to reveal a phablet at MWC this year. While other device makers are playing catch up in the phablet race, Samsung is skipping ahead to launch more connected devices, including an oven you can control with your Android smartphone.

LG Optimus Vu

Ahead of MWC, LG confirmed the specs for the Optimus Vu, a 5-inch smartphone with LTE support. The display screen is an IPS LCD with a resolution of 1024×768, powered by a 1.5GHz Snapdragon dual-core processor and 32GB of built-in storage. The Optimus Vu’s rear camera is a hefty 8 megapixels, with a front-facing camera at 1.3 megapixels. It will also ship with a stylus dubbed the “Rubberdium pen” and a 2,080 mAh battery (about 80 percent the total capacity of the battery found in the Samsung Galaxy Note). On the downside, LG’s Optimus Vu comes with Android 2.3 Gingerbread, though it should get the full Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade within months of its release. Another bummer for U.S. customers, the Optimus Vu debuts first in Korea (in March) with no word on international release dates.

Panasonic Eluga

One of two expected Panasonic smartphones to debut at MWC, the Eluga is a showcase device to help the manufacturer stand out in a rather crowded Android marketplace. Slim and waterproof, the Eluga is high-fashion for the smartphone world. Sixty-eight percent of the phone’s body is dedicated to the 4.3-inch, 960×540 OLED QHD display, and the slick smartphone weighs-in at just 103 grams with a 7.8mm profile. There’s an 8 megapixel camera on the back and a 1GHz dual-core TI OMEP 4430 processor inside. It will ship with Android 2.3 Gingerbread with the promise to upgrade to ICS by summer of 2012. The Eluga also comes with “eco mode” to save battery power. Look for the Eluga to hit Europe in April, though there are no details on price or expected dates for a U.S. launch.

Samsung Zipel MC368GAAW5A smart oven

The ideals of a connected home came one step closer to reality at the Consumer Electronics Show last month, and Samsung’s ready to really make this dream come true. The Zipel MC368GAAW5A is a smart oven you can control with your Android smartphone, letting you cook 160 different preset dishes. You’ll need a Wi-Fi connection to remotely control your oven, which can also tell you the weight and caloric content of your food. There’s still some questions to be answered when it comes to the Zipel, like whether or not you’ll be able to use your smartphone to turn on the oven when you’re connected to a separate Wi-Fi network (that could be dangerous). Samsung’s smart oven has only been released in Korea so far, and we’re sure to see plenty more connected home devices from this manufacturer in the coming months.