One thing cool about holding a phone that is yet to be out in the market is that it does get people around me excited (thank you LG). And it is my curiosity on what others think of a new phone that is more than anything else. The same way that I am sharing my exciting new toy with my friends in real life, here is my little journal on my experience with LG Viewty Smart GC900 thus far.
Throughout my interesting albeit rather young career as a ‘phone previewer’, I have come across all sorts of people who have a diverse opinion of what works for them. Maybe it is how LG markets their products, I often associate LG with sleek and fashionable design. And this is exactly what my first impression of LG Viewty Smart is, consistent with those whom I have passed the phone for a brief hands-on experience. LG Viewty Smart does feel very light, and slim. Turn over to the back and it’s a silver metal-like cover that resembles a typical point-and-shoot camera.
A Decent Camera Phone
LG Viewty Smart GC900 is essentially a decent camera phone. I don’t believe that high mega pixels implies quality. Nevertheless, this phone comes with a 8 mega pixels sensor. I have tested the phone in different lighting conditions and compared the results directly with the phones I have. I am pleasantly surprised with the outcome. It has a ISO range of 100 to 1600 and I reckon that’s why this phone performs pretty well even in low light condition.
Packaged with the camera is a set of software that helps to edit the photos from within the phone. You can adjust the color, contrast, brightness, and etc. manually or automatically. You can also add spices to your photos such as raindrop effect, fog effect, morph effect, a bunch of others. I know Cynthia loves to do weird creative stuff to the photos she takes whenever she feels bored waiting for me. These sort of in-camera edit functions may appeal to some.
Unique to this phone is a “Intelligent Shot” scene recognition mode that you can select. What it does – and you can see the little bars on the screen in real time – is that based on the live image, it analyses the scene and tells you what it thinks the scene is. It detects face, lighting condition (including back light), and background scenery and – I suppose – shot the picture with the most ideal setting. By and large it seems to work. My only thought is that it would be nice to have this as the default rather than the “Auto” mode so that I don’t need to go through the menu items and select this all the time.
I have also tried out the “Panorama Shot” that combines 3 photos into 1. Each time a photo is taken, it shows the edge of the previous frame in shadow mode for easy matching. That helps a lot in trying to create a meaningful panorama shot. It doesn’t seem to stitch up perfectly though. Maybe it’s just my skill. But it does open up fun possibilities.
When I met my sister for lunch and showed her the phone, we tried out the “Smile Shot” mode. Though we couldn’t quite get that to work, we had quite a good laugh over it. We frowned at the camera expected it not to fire. The shutter didn’t fire. Then we smiled expect it to fire. The shutter still didn’t fire. And we exploded into real big laughter thinking that should do the job. The shutter didn’t fire either. After which our faces were frozen in weird stiff smile, the shutter fired. Maybe it’s just the way we smile. People in the restaurant must have thought that we are crazy.
Keeping things real, under certain condition, I do discover that this phone camera has quite a noticeable vignette and barrel effect (getting dark and distorted at the edges of the photo) compare with the phones I have. White balancing – a feature available for manual adjustment – can be noticeably off in some rare circumstances. Also, the auto-focusing seems to take a bit of time. Going through the 3-level menu settings can also take a bit of time (click onto an icon, then spin the virtual wheel, finally scroll for the option you want). I guess if you are used to this as your camera for convenience, you may find a way to adjust. And I also realize that switching to different shooting modes may change the image size without you knowing it. For example, pano shots will set the image size to the lowest. Art shots to medium. And you have to remember to reset it to the highest quality when you switch back to your normal shooting mode. I ended up having quite a lot of photos shot in low quality over the weekend because I wasn’t aware of this feature.
Let’s not forget that LG Viewty Smart is still a phone before a camera. From what I’ve seen, this phone does make taking photos fun, once you get used to the features that is.
User Interface and Touchscreen
LG Viewty Smart GC900 uses the new 3D S-Class User Interface. It has a very high eye candy factor. I’ve shown this phone to those who have used the Apple iPhone and they immediately feel at home. You can spin the home page like a 4-sided cube. One for favorite applications, one for favorite contacts, one for favorite multimedia, and the last one is a homepage that has the clock and quick access to call history, messaging, email, and voice mail. One friend of mine finds that the icons are a bit too small compares to iPhone. I fnd these animated icons pretty.
In terms of responsiveness, some find it comparable to iPhone, some find it a bit slow. I think it all comes down to (1) the pace you use the phone and (2) how you use the touchscreen technology. If you are ADD like me who tend to keep pressing that mouse button when the operating system is not responding well, you may encounter some lag effect when using this phone. I have seen friends who are calmer than me and the phone works fine for them.
My sister Lora shared with me one thing when I showed her the phone: There are (at least) two types of touchscreen technology. One requires the body contact, and another senses contact by any foreign object (such as stylus or finger nail). The new Nokia touchscreen phones are, for example, using physical contact technology. It works with your fingernails and hence, you can command your phone using either your thumbs or forefingers even if you have long fingernails. This new LG phone, however, requires body contact (preferably your fingertips). So if you are a thumb user like me or a nail user like my sister, it does take a while to adapt. I have seen some girls with small fingers and short nails, they breeze through this phone like a pro. And by the way, you can zoom in and out of photos and web pages like an Apple iPhone (using two fingers to ‘open up’ the image). Some find eye candy features like this as well as phone design justify the relatively less responsive messaging mechanism (iPhone is a good example). It is entirely your preference.
One final point to mention with regards to the user interface is that in order to switch from one application to another, you have to quit the current one first and open up another. I am more used to being able to toggle through opened applications within my phones. But it is merely a matter of preference as I have no clue how many phones out there enable the application toggling function and whether or not you need it.
Other Noteworthy Mention
I am a gamer and I find some of the games that come with the phone are outrageously hilarious. And they are very pretty too. One throws a pair of dice by shaking the phone. Whenever Cynthia and I can’t decide on the options, I would take out the LG phone and say: odd number we do this, even number we do that. There is one game that you have to ‘blow’ to the phone and some bubbles will appear (I am sure you have played this game when you were young blowing soap bubbles with a lollipop like stick dipped in soap). You then move the bubble around using your finger in order to release the star inside. Silly I know but Lora and I had such a good laugh blowing into the phone.
Talking about silliness, nothing beats this game that has a very pretty heart shape candle. Touch onto the wick and the candle is lit up with a very life-like flame. I guess you could turn that on in one of those concerts waving that in the air with thousands of others (who may be holding a lit-up Zippo lighter instead). Or you could hand that over to your loved one and say happy anniversary? Maybe that is what Korean romance is like. The cool thing – still silly as hell but who cares? – is that you can blow into the phone and if you blow hard enough, the flame will be gone. You can then … erm … start the whole process again. Like I did (did I mention that I am ADD?)
A very sleek and fashionable design with the user interface as eye-candy as the phone itself. It takes decent picture as a phone and the video captured looks good too. This is a simple to use phone with basic functionalities. Whether or not it is intuitive enough for you, I recommend giving it a try to see if it’s your cup of tea.
Below is a photo sample taking somewhere … erm … near my workplace using this LG phone. As it is, without edit.