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Review - The LG GD900 Crystal

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16.09.2009

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Durability & Robustness

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Range of features

Battery talktimeSatisfactory

Camera Quality

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  1. Soho_Black
  2. TheHairyGodmother

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The LG GD900 Crystal


I've reviewed a lot of mobile phones, and after a while they all start to look alike, that was until I got my hands on LG's latest handset, the LG Crystal GD900, which looks like nothing I've ever seen. When you add a range of impressive features including a responsive GLASS keypad, multitouch capability, Wi-Fi and HSDPA connectivity, the GD900 was shaping up to be a great handset.


Design and Features


I have to admit I have new found respect for the normally rather reserved LG design department for trying something completely different with the GD900. The Crystals touchpad is made of tempered glass lit up by a bluish/white glow, which I have to say looks great. Despite the fact that the back of the touchpad is made from flimsy looking plastic, the tempered glass front feels solid and well made.


As well as looking good the GD900's keypad is also a touch sensitive control pad, allowing you to navigate items with a simple swipe of your finger. Anyone familiar with either the iPhone 3GS or HTC Hero will be aware of the useful multitouch function, which the GD900 utilises on both its 3 inch touchscreen and tempered glass touchpad, allowing you to zoom into pictures or those tiny internet links by pinching your fingers together.

Touch Screen Typing


Some of the touch-sensitive features of the GD900 are very good, in particular the one that LG seem to be most proud of, what they call 'Gestures'. By drawing a shape on the screen you can launch an application of your choice, your web browser for example. However, while I had the phone the same problem arose time and time again. With two touch screens and almost no buttons there is no surface which doesn't result in some type of response from the phone, every surface is very, very sensitive, so while drawing my shape to launch the browser I would launch the contact list, dial a number or scroll a few random icons before the browser finally opened.


When I did finally get the browser to open, I was actually quite impressed, due largely to the built in Wi-Fi and 7.2Mbps HSDPA, browsing over 3G allows the GD900 to do an excellent job of rendering even very complex pages. I mentioned the GD900's pinch function earlier, and while it works, it is no where near a slick as seen on HTC's Hero or the iPhone 3GS, as it tends to be a little sluggish while using the Crystal's browser.


The GD900's touchpad allows you to navigate through all the phones features without obscuring the screen, and when its not needed it just slides away, at first I thought that the GD900's touchpad was a great idea but after having the handset for about 24 hours I realised that I hardly ever used it, even forgetting about it from time to time. Even when you are browsing web sites crowded with links, there really isn't any time you would need the touchpad. That was until I tried to use the GD900's on-screen keypad…

I thought that the over responsive, ticklish nature of the GD900 was going to get very irritating, but one area that is works very well is for composing SMS messages and dialling numbers, which is a very good job because the GD900's on-screen keypad is among the worst I have ever tested. It was unresponsive and the lag was terrible, as a result so many letters where missed out that text messages where simply a group of erratic and ineligible letters. So I thought I'd try the GD900's T9 predictive mode… which was even worse; I couldn't find any way of rejecting the handsets ridiculous and overly complicated suggestions.


User Interface

The GD900 uses LG's 'S-Class' user interface, which I am not a huge fan of. I respect the fact that LG has tried to improve user friendliness, but the S Class user interface seems to me to be a little pointless. I tested the LG Arena a while ago now and like the GD900, it sported the same spinning cube, complete with it own dedicated button - I didn't see any need for it on the Arena and my opinion hasn't changed since - LG get rid of the stupid spinning cube… no one cares!


Although the GD900's multiple home screens are nice, the widgets contained in it aren't. They demonstrate the lack of computing power, really demonstrating the Crystal's slightly sluggish nature. I did have some other issues with the GD900's use of widgets too, they somehow feel unfinished, poorly thought out and poorly designed. The weather widget is a perfect example, I got up the first morning I had the GD900 and the widget had a picture of a bright sun… When I opened the blinds it was poring with rain, it was then I realised that unlike many handsets which incorporate a weather widget, the GD900 displays a bright, shinning sun regardless of the weather, effectively reducing the 'widget' to a shortcut, meaning that you have to actually open the application.


While all of LG's design, feature's and UI ideas are good in theory, the more that you are forced to actually live with it, the more infuriating they get, and that is before you get to the Crystal's 8 megapixel camera.


Camera Function

I recently tested the GD900's older sister, the LG Viewty GC900 and hated it so much that I didn't even bother to write a review… Without going into too much detail, my main issue with the GC900 was that despite being called the 'VIEWTY' it took awful pictures. I bring it up because the GD900 suffers from the same flaw, despite its 8 megapixel camera, it takes rubbish photos!


In poor light conditions the photos were almost unusable, rather than providing extra light the LED flash made everything turn a strange tint of pink, even in good conditions the pictures produced by the GD900 were below average. I freely accept that very few mobile phones have the capability to match the quality of photographs taken by a digital camera, but despite the Crystal's huge 8 megapixel camera, the quality of its images would leaving it falling behind even the cheapest of compact camera's.


As with Apple's hugely popular iPhone, the GD900 has a wide range of editing options for both photos and videos. I found them all very easy to use, and all take full advantage of the touch screen.


As far as onboard memory is concerned, the GD900 has an adequate amount, there is 1.5GB of onboard memory, but this can be further supplemented by a MicroSD memory card, so all in all, there is ample space to store your blurry pictures and stuttery videos…


The Verdict


I liked


It is unique looking; it is unlike any other handset available


The responsive glass keypad lets you navigate without obscuring the screen;


Multitouch capability


I respect the innovative use of multiple touch screens, even if they aren't completely successful


Wi-Fi, HSDPA connectivity produce good 3G browsing


I disliked


Lacks any real muscle, which means that it can be very sluggish


Poor widgets


Although I like the idea of multiple touch screens, in reality, there over sensative nature would be infuriating over time.


Despite its 8 megapixel camera it takes poor photos/video


Conclusion


The touch screen Crystal's transparent, touch sensitive, tempered glass touchpad may look nice and make up for the terrible onscreen keypad, but in reality, the inclusion of two touch screens, although a nice idea in theory just doesn't work.


Despite the inclusion of an 8 megapixel camera, its media capturing capabilities are poor and the S-Class user interface needs to be drastically improved before using the GD900 is a pleasurable experience.


I don't usually have an issue with mobile phones that have no point, no function other than to look good, I actually quite like the idea of a phone as a fashion accessory, but the GD900 takes it too far, even for me. All the gimmicks have a detrimental effect on its user interface and usability, even the tempered glass isn't enough to persuade me that I need this handset in my life.


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Comments about this review »

TheHairyGodmother 17.09.2009 17:20

well reviewed

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Product Information »

Manufacturer's product description

LG GD900 Crystal's sleek drop-down transparent keypad is more than just great looks. Rather it is a fully functiona...

General

MPN lg gd900 crystal, GD900
Product Type Mobile phone
Form Factor Slider - touch screen, full keyboard

Cellular

Technology WCDMA (UMTS) / GSM
Band WCDMA (UMTS) / GSM 850/900/1800/1900
Mobile Broadband Generation 3G

Show all Product Information

Review Ratings »

This review of LG GD900 Crystal has been rated:

"very helpful" by (100%):

  1. Soho_Black
  2. TheHairyGodmother

The overall rating of a review is different from a simple average of all individual ratings.

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