LG Viewty Preview

Introduction and Design
LG Prada was one of the first phones on the market, designed as a device that is mainly controlled by its large touch display. In this aspect, it was similar to the earlier announced Apple iPhone, but traded some of its functionality for smaller dimensions and more stylish design and interface. Although it looked well, it had mediocre features and was excellent for fashion gurus, but not so for people that want all-in-one phone. LG has decided to change this, and it happens with the Viewty which moves the functionality of the previous model to the next level. It is not co-branded with Prada, but still has similar dimensions and design, which definitely class it in the "pretty-phones" line.

As the phone is still not commercially available we are using a prototype unit. At this moment, all Viewty phones around the globe are pre-production units, with early versions of the software. The quality of both the hardware and the software might change when commercially available versions appear, and this is the reason why we, unlike some other sites, will do a Preview instead of full Review and will not give any ratings. Once final units appear, we will update you with in-depth review with all the opinions and the ratings.

Actually, the Viewty is slightly larger than the Prada in any aspect in addition to being heavier, but still is well sized, considering the 3" display and the 5-megapixel camera. 14mm thick, it fits easily into the pocket and in the hand definitely feels lighter than the specifications say. The front looks stylish, housing the speaker, LG logo and camera for video calling on the top, the huge display in the middle, and just three buttons on the bottom. It deffinitely has a high-end look and feel but next to the Prada phone looks more like an advanced gadget instead of a stylish handset.



The touch-screen technology has been used for many years, but in the cellphone market it is getting more and more popular with each day. Although it is the main controlling mechanism in many smartphones, most of the manufacturers are trying to give the customer an alternative (jog-dial, trackballs, wheels, etc) for single handed usage. In contrast, when it comes to non-smart devices with touch-displays, the idea is to avoid the physical buttons as much as possible. A class of “touch-screen-only” phones appeared, started by the Apple iPhone and the LG Prada. The Viewty is also positioned here with its 3” WQVGA (240x400) pixels display with up to 262k colors.

What must be noted is the type of the display. In the Prada phone, LG used a matrix that was activated by the electricity of the skin, while in the Viewty it is standard, which can be operated with an object like a pen (or stylus) for example. The accuracy is improved but if you don’t use the two devices next to each other will hardly notice this. What makes great difference in the two displays is the brightness and color representation, where the Viewty is an obvious winner. Set at 40% brightness, it is as bright as the Prada set on 100% but unlike it has accurate colors, not biased to yellow. Unfortunately, sensor for controlling the brightness is lacking and you’ll have to manually change it in different environments.

Like the Prada, the Viewty keeps the tradition of 3-keys on the front - Аnswer, Reject and Clear between them. Here they are merging with the design and are hardly noticeable when not lit up. Unlocking the phone (keyboard, display) will illuminate them to be easily distinguished.

PhoneArena's video Preview of LG Viewty:




As the Viewty is designed as high-end cameraphone, the back side is designed to match this idea and reminds of a pocket camera. On the right is the big lens with circular scroll-ring around it, and next to it are the flash and the focus-assist lamp. As in Prada, the lens is branded by Schneider-KREUZNACH which is one of the big names in the optics market.

The ring around the lens is used as a scroll in various situations. By default in the camera interface, it controls the digital zoom level but if you’ve chosen the manual focus options (see the camera part) it will change the focusing distance. It will also double as a scroll (up-down) in various menus around the interface that require one.

As you know, the stand-alone cameras have lens on the front, big display on the back and lots of controls on the top. It’s the same for the Viewty, and all camera keys are on the top when in landscape and respectively on the right when in portrait orientation. Here are the (camera-camcorder-playback), the (un)lock key that turns on/off the digital stabilizer and the two-step shutter, which is also a shortcut.




360 Degree View:



Software:

If you’ve used the Prada, you won’t be surprised by the four buttons on the bottom of the homescreen. These are shortcuts respectively to the menu, dialing screen, messaging, contacts and are typical for LG’s devices with touch-screen. They have also made appearance in the KS20 smartphone and the Voyager for Verizon. Like the last, the home screen can now be personalized with 9 large shortcuts, for fast access. The first new thing that you’ll notice when pressing on any of the virtual buttons is that they this is surrounded by a slight phone vibration, which is the only feedback such type of key can give. Similar solution has been used in the recently announced Samsung Armani phone and in the RAZR2 phones which have three dynamic touch buttons.



If those don’t have what you need, you’ll surely find yourself in the main menu. It uses the same structure as the Prada phone, grouping the functionality in four tabs, each housing icons in two columns. The handset themes change both the color schemes and the icons and if you choose the “black” one, you’ll have something very similar to the popular Prada menu, but with dark-blue-green background of the icons in order to differentiate.




While the visual appeal is similar to the stylish Prada, the functionality is brought to more advanced level and the Viewty is targeted as an advanced cameraphone. The viewfinder occupies the whole 3-inch display, housing settings indicators on the top and a few settings on the right, including the Flash and Scenes. All additional ones are in the menu accessed by the icon in the bottom left, and here you’ll find anything you can expect on a camera phone, including White Balance (still manual is missing), ISO (100, 200, 400, 800), color effects, macro mode and attention please: Manual Focus. No, this is not the fixed focus but as in a SLR camera, you choose the focusing distance with the ring around the lens. This is the first phone with manual focus and although you won’t need it for taking pictures for memory, you’ll find it useful if you use the phone for amateur photographs with art value.



As we’ve said, this is not a final version of the phone, so we will not post comments on the quality of the camera. For those of you who are curious, we will post a few samples but keep in mind – the commercially available units will most probably be different! To prove this, we will share that sometimes the viewfinder blocked, turned off or didn’t start at all. We of course expect all such problems to be cleared before the official launch!

We've compared the LG Viewty with Nokia N95 and Samsung SGH-G600 to see how it rates next to other 5-megapixel phones. Check our comparison by clicking here.

The Viewty doesn’t leave the video-capture functionality aside. Move the three-way switch to the middle position and the camcorder interface shows, offering up to VGA (640x480) resolution. Here you will be surprised by unique mode which captures 120 frames per second. As for smooth video, only 24 frames are needed, this is worth using for shooting fast-moving objects. The output video will be played in 15fps, 8 times slower, which will deliver Slow-motion effect.

Choose the third position of the switch and the gallery is opened. It can visualize the images in two ways: standard or random. The first aligns them in grid, while the second as the name says orders them randomly which looks cooler but is definitely less convenient.

As Viewty is designed as all-in-one multimedia phone, it also packs decent audio and video players. The music can be filtered by artist/album and other criteria and the now playing interface visualizes album art cover and has big enough buttons to be easily pressed with a finger.



The video player amazed us with support for various formats. This is the first phone we use that opens a standard QVGA H.264 files (without any silly limitation in quality (kbps) or frames (fps)). This is excellent, as a video converted to H.264 has significantly better quality than one with H.263, with equivalent other circumstances. Our test video played with no problem and delivered smooth image playback, which points for the powerful enough hardware.

If watching videos on the phone is your passion, you’ll be pleasantly surprised that Viewty is one of the first phones, supporting DivX playback. LG still doesn’t provide detailed information, but in our tests none of the DivX 6 encoded files ran. DivX 5 encoded videos didn’t show any problems and we were able to watch a video in VGA (640x480) resolution flawlessly. Unlike the Samsung F500, which is advertised as dedicated DivX device, the Viewty doesn’t support videos encoded with XviD, which is the free variant of DivX and is also very popular. We hope that LG will fix those issues, and when the phone is released it will have no problems with any DivX and XviD content with resolution close to the VGA it played.

In addition, YouTube “player” is preloaded, to stream videos directly from the video blog. We are rather disappointed that in fact this is just a link to the browser, so you won’t have any additional functionality when compared to other phone with full HTML browser.



When we are talking about HTML, we are completely satisfied with the browser that the phone has. It visualizes our site correctly and unlike the one on the Prada it is easy to scroll the page, as it is significantly bigger than the display’s resolution. Still this is slow when compared with the iPhone’ Safari browser which we guess is due to the different screen technology and the way it perceives your finger movement. Like Symbian S60 browser, KU990 offers mini-map which shows while you scroll in 100% view to orient you where you are, but can also be used to move fast to other part, just with tapping on it (something that is impossible for non-touch phones like all using S60).

Many complained that although the Prada has 3” touch display, it doesn’t offer any text input method different than on-screen 12-key numeric keyboard. The Viewty fixes that and in addition to on-screen handwriting recognition and one in a dedicated box, the phone also has QWERTY keyboard in landscape mode. It reminds the one of the iPhone but as it uses the larger size of the display is bigger in size.

The phonebook has also seen some changes, and now the contacts list can be filtered by the first letter in the name. Unlike the iPhone, not all letters are shown, but they are grouped and if you want “C” for example, “A-D” tab must be selected. If we judge the interface only by its look, there are a few things that the Prada does better than the Viewty. Although the calculators of the two are pretty identical, the one of the new model doesn’t have increasing digit when selected. While the Prada had unique 3D view of the map, the Viewty has uglier but more convenient combination of list + 2D view, when the World Clock is used.



Expect our full review when final, commercial samples are released.


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