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Touch and go

What do you make of a phone that offers great features and is reasonably priced, but has basics like the UI confused? Shayne Rana tells more.

tech reviews Updated: Sep 28, 2009 19:56 IST
Shayne Rana

There must be just a handful of mobile users left in the world who select a phone purely on the basis of its basic purposes — the making and receiving of calls and messages. LG has always managed to offer a lot in aspect. The Viewty Smart too, is great looking, feature-rich handset, but its functionality is what you should assess before considering a purchase. Here’s what I thought.

Form
The Sleek GC900 is the follow up to LG’s previous touchscreen camera phone, the KU990 Viewty. It’s slimmer and looks cooler, with its sleek silver rear panel and black faceplate that has only one button. The 3-inch capacitive touchscreen display has a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels with 16 million colours. Although it was extremely clear for viewing, a 3-inch screen in today’s world doesn’t seem enough, especially when the phone costs as much as this one.

On one side is a MicroSD card slot, followed by a button to access the 3D cube menu system — which is essentially a different view of the desktop, that you can switch to with a swipe of your finger. An all-in-one port for the handsfree, with a 3.5 mm earphone adapter and USB connector is at the top, followed by the volume/ zoom keys and a camera key. There’s also a power and screen lock button is on top.

It is a great looking handset, except for the function keys that could have served better.

Features
LG’s new S-Class user interface is on board with its multi-touch capabilities and funky 3D-like animations. However, the UI was quite sluggish. While it does have impressive features, the multi-touch for pinch control is not too responsive. And the calibration option wasn’t easy to find.

The Accelerometer is super sensitive; it’s smooth but even a slight tilt and it switches between modes.

Some camera images showed up in the wrong mode; if I took a picture in landscape it would only show up correctly when held in portrait, and when I changed the orientation the image would flip over to the side.

Media
The music player is simple and doesn’t open a new screen. It plays directly from the song list section and has a Dolby Mobile engine to steep the quality of the audio. There are plenty of good presets, just like in the Arena. The visuals are funky and give the player a really suave feel. However, I couldn’t play songs in the background, which made multitasking difficult.

The test videos looked good on the display. MPEG4 and 3GP files played without a hitch, but the AVI and XviD videos didn’t, which is strange given that the handset comes with their codecs. The Viewty Smart allows you to fit videos to the screen by adjusting size, in case the resolution is small. The FM radio also gave decent reception, except during commutes.

LG’s Movie Maker software allows you to create slideshows of images with background music. It didn’t let me edit any of the video files though. The intensive image editor is great for post processing; it allows you create a fog by blowing into the mic. You can then wipe off any section to add to the effect.

Connectivity
The Viewty Smart 3G enabled and supports HSDPA up to 7.2 mbps. It also supports Wi-Fi, EDGE and GPRS.

The browser is simple to use. But connectivity via GPRS was slow and sites didn’t load too well. On the plus side, the browser supports Flash content, has an RSS reader and allows you to open multiple windows.

Applications like Google Maps, a link to Gmail, Google Search, YouTube and Blogger are also preloaded. IMPA and POP3 emails can be set up through a simple process.

The UI is again an issue when it comes to connectivity: any feature that needs web connectivity has to be pre-programmed to use either EDGE or WAP. The data wallet application stores private data and comes supports TXT, DOC, XLS and PDF files.

Camera and battery
Pictures taken on the 8-megapixel camera look good on the phone’s display but not on a screen. It’s got plenty of settings such as Smile shot with face tracking, Beauty shot and an Art option with its own settings. The image quality isn’t great though; in daylight, the black levels are deep but the focus goes haywire. The GC900 also records video in a 720 x 480 resolution at 30 fps. The microphone picks up voices well.

The phone gave an average of just about three hours of talktime. The biggest issue was the battery compartment getting hot. This also happened while I was on a call. Now, I may not know what a hot flash feels like but using this was no picnic either.