Review by Russell Jefferies on Tuesday April 22, 2008.
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LG KU990 Viewty
LG KU990 Viewty
LG KU990 Viewty
[The photos on the last page of this review were shot by Sam Chan for our Nokia N82 vs. LG KU990 Viewty comparison story. -editor]
The Viewty, also known as the KU990, is LG's new high-end camera phone, a candybar style device with an impressively large touch sensitive display. Seemingly designed to rival Apple's iPhone, the device is very minimalist, sporting only a handful of physical buttons. Available on most networks within the UK, and at far more reasonable prices than Apple's offering, could the Viewty be a serious contender for the iPhone? We've been lucky enough to get our hands on one to find out.
At first glance, the Viewty gives an impression of quality and style, thanks to its sleek lines and predominantly black exterior. Chrome edging ties the design together, giving the device a very understated, yet eye-catching appearance.
Thankfully, the impression of quality doesn't end there and the Viewty feels just as expensive as it looks, with no loose parts or creaky covers. It measures a respectable 103.5mm x 54.4mm x 14.8mm (4.1" x 2.1" x .6") in size, making it quite a slim device when considering everything that's crammed into its sleek exterior, and it feels lighter than you'd expect at 112g (3.9oz). One of the first things you'll notice with the Viewty is the huge 3" 240x400 pixel WQVGA touch sensitive display, capable of showing 262,000 colors. The display is very nice to look at with one of the brighter themes activated, and can be easily read, even in direct sunlight. To activate the display you'll need to press one of the few physical buttons on the phone, which allows you to unlock it. Doing so will activate the display, showing you a 3x3 grid of icons, with a row of four more icons beneath it.
LG includes a small, extendable stylus on the Viewty. In spite of that, the Viewty can be operated adequately without it, though the screen reacts much better to fingernail taps than inputs with finger tips. Users with large fingers may find the stylus necessary for some of the small on-screen buttons, as well. LG have addressed the lack of physical buttons on the Viewty's display by providing vibration feedback, meaning that every time you tap the screen, the phone vibrates subtly to acknowledge your input. The only problem is that sometimes the Viewty will vibrate to acknowledge an input, but won't actually execute the command. This happens most often when trying to move backwards in the menu by using the "back" button in the bottom right corner of the screen. The phone doesn't seem to have this problem when the stylus is used.
Since it lacks a physical keypad or keyboard, text input on the Viewty has to be handled by the touchscreen. There are 4 methods available: a virtual alphanumeric keypad, a virtual QWERTY keyboard, and two handwriting recognition modes, one that works with an input box, the other that works anywhere on the screen. The virtual keypad uses T9 predictive text. The keyboard suffers from small on-screen key size, even though the phone is held horizontally in this mode, and is less than ideal. The two handwriting recognition modes work decently, but are not capable of handling cursive script well, instead working best with individual characters. It's worth noting that not all modes are available for use in all parts of the device.
Despite the display controlling most aspects of the phone, LG have included a handful of physical keys on the Viewty for some of the simpler functions. There are dedicated call send and end keys, as well as a hardware C (clear) key that can be used to delete text. A very stiff camera key and a lock/unlock key are located on the right edge of the phone. A scroll dial on the back of the Viewty can be used for adjusting call volume and navigating through menus, but we found it to be a bit finicky in use. A button on the top of the phone releases the rear cover, which exposes the battery, SIM card, and microSD card slot.
At the top of the phone is the button that releases the Viewty's metal rear cover, which easily pops off for access to the battery, SIM card bay and memory card slot. The memory card slot takes up to 2GB micro SD cards, but unfortunately the battery needs to be removed to allow access to both the micro SD card and sim card, creating extra fuss for multiple SIM card/memory card users. On the top left corner of the device is a loop for a lanyard or the stylus, which came attached to our review handset via a cord protruding from the stylus end-cap. Below this, on the top left side of the phone is the charging/headset port, covered neatly by a small plastic sliding door.
Russell Jefferies reviews mobile phones for MobileBurn from his home located in Bristol in the United Kingdom.