Viewty strengthens LG Mobile’s existence

Zatni Arbi ,  Contributor ,  Jakartapost  | 

I guess we can no longer call LG Mobile “a new kid on the block”. Starting with the release of its Black Label Series’ Chocolate, the Korean company has made a big splash in the cell phone market.

Chocolate was followed by Shine, the Prada and very recently the Viewty. The name sounds a bit like the word “Beauty”, but it is most likely the features that LG Mobile has packed into this model that will capture the interests of gadget lovers.

Kim Jae-Hong, LG Mobile Indonesia’s Product Manager and Advisor, said in an interview that Viewty, which is the model moniker of LG KU990, had been selling very well for some time in other countries. In Europe, LG had sold more Viewtys than Apple’s much hyped iPhones, he said. Well, that sounds like a tremendous achievement, given that Orange France reported it had sold 30,000 units of iPhones in just five days.

What is it that has made this cell phone model so enticing? The first time you see a Viewty, you’ll notice its stark similarity to the Prada phone. They share the 3-inch screen, one of the largest on the mobile phones around today. Like the Prada, the Viewty is also touch-screen operated. The menu is well structured and easy to understand, like most other LG mobile phones.

So, what is new? First, the “U” in the model’s name means that it is a 3G UMTS phone. So, unlike the Prada, it is a 3.5G cell phone with support for HSDPA. It has a secondary camera in the front for video calls.

The Viewty’s primary camera is really something. The phone has a 5.0 megapixel (MP) camera at the back, which uses a Schneider Kreuznach lens. It has a manual focus mode in addition to the regular autofocus mode. It can capture video at 120 frames per second (fps), which is faster than the ordinary 30 fps required for a smooth video. If a more precise replay is needed, the video can be recorded at the maximum fps speed and then played back at 30 or even 15 fps. Detailed movements are able to be viewed in slow motion. Come to think of it, the Viewty could be a very powerful tool for industrial espionage.

The camera also has a digital image stabilizer. An optical stabilizer would do a better job in maintaining the focus, but it would require a much bigger body. The cell phone, despite its impressive portfolio of features, is relatively slim with a thickness of 14.8 millimeters.

The phone supports up to ISO ASA 800, to enable the capture of images in the dark. If that sensitivity level is still not enough, a SmartLight feature can be employed.

“The Smartlight feature changes the gamma value so dark areas in photos can be made clearer,” Kim explained.

Those who like to play around with face images can entertain themselves with the face-morphing tool.

The phone’s memory capacity can be increased by up to 2 GB with an additional MicroSD.

The Viewty also supports PictBridge; the standard for photo printing. Picture files can be sent via Bluetooth to a Bluetooth-ready printer, with no cables necessary.

“The flash light is a Xenon, which produces a very powerful light,” said John Halim, LG Indonesia’s product marketing manager.

Movies can also be made using a series of still pictures with the cell phone’s Movie Studio. Three separate pictures can also be combined to make a wide panorama shot. A guide on the screen even ensures the three pictures join as closely as possible to the others taken to produce a smoothly joined panoramic picture.

Pictures and video playback can also be viewed in landscape or portrait format.

With this range of arsenal, it is difficult to decide whether the Viewty is a cell phone or a camera. It is most definitely a phone with several “firsts”; it is the first phone to support DIVx, the compressed format of DVD video.

“This camera phone is perhaps the first Google phone, too,” said John.

Pre-installed in the cell phone and accessible through the menus are Google tools including Google Search, Mail and Maps. Bloggers can also access their blogs and upload videos to YouTube simply by tapping the right screen menu.

Entering text can be done in three ways; with the screen keypad, the screen QWERTY keyboard or the handwriting recognition tool. The handwriting recognition tool is quite fast — transcribing word by word instead of character by character.

There are many other features I like about this cell phone. The keypad lock is a button on the right side, which is exactly under the user’s middle finger when holding the phone in the left hand. The system is very responsive, too: I have never had to wait for the function to start after tapping the screen menu.

Wi-Fi is unfortunately absent. However, with HSDPA it may not be needed.

“Here in Indonesia, users still have to pay for a Wi-Fi connection anyway,” John said.

Perhaps the addition of Wi-Fi would have caused a problem: With the current set of features, saving battery power is already a challenge. If Wi-Fi were to be used, battery life would be reduced substantially. As it is, the phone has an average battery life per charge on normal use.

On the other hand, there are a couple of things that could be improved. For example, the lens has no cover. It is right in the center of the jog wheel, which serves different functions including a zoom and volume control. If not careful, fingers touching the screen can smudge or even scratch it.

Another feature I wish was also included is a 3.5mm jack to enable the use of a pair of regular stereo headphones.

Most annoying is perhaps the erase button. Instead of using a screen button, LG has added a physical button between the “call” and “hangup” buttons. When entering text, this button needs to be pressed to erase a typo.

A leather pouch like the Nokia N95 or a BlackBerry’s would have been a nice extra, although the superb craftsmanship of the Viewty actually renders it unnecessary. A pouch, if you still insist on having one, can be purchased separately. LG Mobile also throws in a screen protection film, which needs to be installed.

In conclusion, the Viewty is definitely the most feature-packed cell phone from the Korean company as of today. And, surprisingly, at Rp 5 million, it still costs much less than the Prada.

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