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I have recently got an LG Viewty (aka LG KU990), courtesy of Outside Line, to review and keep.
The main features of this HSDPA (3G) mobile is the touchscreen and on-screen QWERTY keyboard. In addition to this, it boasts a 5MP camera with a proper flash and a low light setting up to ISO 800.
The phone comes with a USB lead, headphones and charger.
Dimensions and stylus: small and lipstick-like stylus
The Viewty is fairly small, much smaller than my current XDA Exec, measuring roughly 105mm x 55mm x 15mm yet it still manages to boast a 3" screen!
I'm guessing it's aimed at a female target audience due to it's lipstick-like expanding stylus (to control its touchscreen). There's no obvious place to insert the stylus in the phone so I attached via a hook on the phone. This is far from perfect... I'd rather have storage for the stylus built into the phone's shell.
Input: an ineffective keyboard but effective touchscreen
Input can be made through the stylus, mentioned above, or through fingers on the touchscreen. There are also buttons to aid in taking photos, unlocking, quickly answering calls and quickly hanging up.
Navigating through menus, textual and numerical input is completed through the touchscreen. A variety of methods of textual input methods are provided such as standard mobile phone way (three 2 in sequence make a C), handwriting (which isn't good for me as I form my letters irregularly) and in some circumstances a QWERTY keyboard (hence its name)
Much to my annoyance, you can only use the QWERTY keyboard in landscape mode making it impossible to do things such as enter a URL into its browser. This is a major flaw, in my opinion, and I hope LG update their firmware to allow keyboard input to be offered wherever possible.
I am impressed by the ease of locking and unlocking the phone. It requires you to press one button on the side of the phone and that's it! This, in my opinion, is much nicer than holding * down!
The phone also vibrates when touched, but only lightly, providing nice sensual feedback. Whilst it is slightly disconcerting at first, you soon grow to love it.
Scrolling is achieved by moving the stylus up, down and across the screen. You move the stylus in the opposite direction to the one in which you wish to move... as if you're pulling it.
Surrounding the camera lens there is a jog wheel which is used to control music, zoom in and out of photos and webpages.
I do find my hardware keyboard in my XDA Exec much quicker to type on than this one which requires lots of tapping. However, for the average Joe they won't want to carry about such bulk!
Connectivity: fast 3G!
The phone is armed with 3G (HSDPA allowing speeds up to 3.6Mbps... faster than my DSL!) and although I live in an area of marginal 3G coverage it will often pick up the signal. 3G allows you to do all sorts and I've been enjoying T-Mobile's ability to watch live TV for only £1/daily. Obviously, 3G coverage needs to rapidly be expanded inside the United Kingdom.
Also, it has Bluetooth which was very quick and easy to set-up with my Mac. The phone also comes with a USB connectivity cable and driver disc for Windows; neither LG or iSync support the Viewty on OS X :( . I'm not sure about Linux but if LG are like most companies, Linux support is their last priority.
The phone doesn't possess infrared.
Phone's OS/software: Simple interface, lots of tools
The phone has an email client, which I admit I haven't used, a browser which despite my initial concerns is actually very good - perfectly rendering this blog. My only complaint with the browser is the one I mentioned above... that URLs cannot be inputted via QWERTY.
The menu is very well designed with shortcuts on the standby screen (ie the screen with the wallpaper etc) to messaging, phone, the main menu and contacts. The main menu is split into four sub-categories: a phone menu (with contacts, logs, dialling & messaging), media ('my stuff' (a file browser), camera, MuVee studio (a primitive video editor), music, video playlists, voice recorder, FM radio and Games & Apps), an organiser menu (browser, organiser, alarms, memo, tools and USIM services) and then settings.
One interesting feature is that the phone supports Flash and can open some SWFs, but they have to be very small in terms of filesize. It can also handle Java applications.
Camera and video: 5MP and DivX
One of the phone's main features is its 5MP camera which has a proper flash (not a lousy LED like my old phone's camera). You can also use the phone's front camera which is normally used for video calling to do photos, but these are at a much lower resolution.
The main flaw of this camera, in my opinion, is the lack of an optical zoom (effectively ruling it out as a fully blown replacement to my digital camera) and the fact that there's no lens cover of any sort. This might make the lens susceptible to damage.
The phone can 'achieve' low-light up to ISO 800, has a macro mode and allows images to manually focused.
The phone takes good quality photographs but it won't replace my S3 IS any time soon!
The camera can also record videos straight as a DivX or 3GP at a rate of up to 120FPS. The fact that files are DivXs saves a lot of effort if you want to share them, especially online, as most people now probably have the codecs on their computers if not DVD players!
Whilst the lack of Macintosh support and the inconsistency of where the keyboard can and cannot be used grows annoying, the phone has a supreme camera and good 3G ability.
It'd be amazing if the phone auto-rotated like the iPhone but I wonder if the K990 has the necessary hardware to ever facilitate such a feature (if I'm not mistaken, the Nokia N95 now auto-rotates).
In essence, the phone still very much feels like a phone despite its touchscreen. I've grown unaccustomed to phones and this mobile is right in between a 'phone' and a 'smartphone'. Smartphones aren't practical for everyone and I have a feeling that this phone's style and pricetag (£350 on T-Mobile as PAYG, freely on O2 on contract; compare that with the £280 for the iPhone on contract) will lure in quite a big audience.
Copyright Joe Anderson 2007, some rights reserved under CC-BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)
Great review, have this phone and just want to make one point - if you change the view to landscape instead of portrait when you are in a browser you can use the qwerty keyboard for typing URL's. Love this phone!!
patriciat 27.11.2007 20:57
It sounds way too clever for me and I'd have lost the stylus before I'd figured out how to use it. Pat.t x
alan74 26.11.2007 16:14
Really don't like the sound of this at all. Although the DivX and the 5mp Camera is Superb!! Saying that... great review... nice to read ya stuff again! Alan