After 13 days of embargo since I got the phone on 3 Jun, I finally can post my review on the LG Viewty Smart.
As you are aware (if you follow my blog), I was selected to participate in the LG “Life is Viewty-ful” Photo Blogger Campaign. 10 bloggers got their hands on the LG Viewty Smart and had to use the camera function to capture and submit 5 photos for the LG Viewty Smart marketing campaign, that includes using the photos for worldwide publicity. Selected images may also be compiled into a photobook showcasing LG Viewty Smart’s images.
Being the first shipment firmware, I uncovered many limitations that I wasn’t sure if it was a design feature or simply a bug. So I had to review with an open mind. After all, despite the lifting of the embargo, the phone will only be on sale later this month or July. That means LG is still capable of upgrading the firmware.
OK, on with the review proper.
Took me a few tries to catch the cube in transition.
I was impressed with the S-Class 3D interface, but I am one that goes for functionality rather than GUI, so if all the nifty transition effects slow down the interface, I would rather go for the rigid look and feel.
The LG Viewty Smart is a touch-screen phone with capacitive surface. It is more durable but only responds to skin contact, not fingernails. There is only one hard button on the front face, and 4 other buttons on the sides – multitasking, up and down volume, and camera buttons. The cover material is plastic and so the phone feels very light. The phone is slim and so it could feel somewhat flimsy as there are no grips. I am not a fan of small and slim imaging devices, for you need an ergonomic grip to have a steady shot. Another major problem is that you risk touching the touchscreen and activate some other functions other than taking the picture. For me, a concerted effort is required to grab a casual photo with the Viewty Smart, like most of the camera phones in the market.
My major pain points from using the phone are:
– slow auto-focus and laggy shutter. I workaround by selecting manual focus. It works for me since the camera auto-focuses up to about 30cm, afterwhich it’s infinity. Since I typically take distance shots, setting to manual focus to infinity means a faster (but still laggy) shutter trigger.
– inaccurate touch. This is probably a common challenge for all touchscreen phones. The Viewty Smart increases the challenge because the 800×480-resolution 3-inch screen is smaller than say the iPhone. So the fonts and the buttons are smaller and I never fail to miss the key or hit the wrong key altogether. For web-browsing, the workaround is to increase the screen font by zooming in (using multi-touch finger gestures) but for interface navigation, the sizes are fixed.
– not a smart phone. It lacks full multi-tasking capability and its web browser is not powerful enough to display webpages efficiently. I was also unable to find any applications for the phone on the Internet, while Java-coded apps are limited and lacks full features. Many phone makers deploy different phone OSes and it’s really a challenge finding the correct apps. Phone makers should openly inform consumers the OS so that they can find more apps to expand the capabilities of the phone, thus making the device more user-friendly.
What I quite like about the phone:
– a myraid of camera and video settings and controls. The Intelligent Shot (IS) mode actually displays real-time indications of the camera analysing the scenes. There is an exposure compensation quick button for ease of adjustment. The manual focus helps in creative photography. As for video recording, I had fun doing fast-forward recording (as seen in my previous blog post) as well as slow-motion recording.
I find that the shortcut keys are useful for both the camera and video recording modes. One gripe is the on-screen dial mode that simulates the actual camera dial, which I find is a UI gimmick and not user friendly. I spend a lot of time scrolling one item at a time, and there are quite a lot of items to scroll to. I would prefer an option to change to a menu view.
– comprehensive image and video editing functions. Although the 8 megapixel image quality is not the best in the market, the quality is certainly not the worst that I’ve experienced from other leading brands. But what amazes me is that I can do almost all kinds of basic editing on the phone without using a PC, like saturation, contrast, colour filter, white balance; you can rotate, crop, sharpen, do image morphing and warping, enter text, insert bubbles, stamp cute icons all over the image, or create fogging effects. Likewise for video, you can trim, merge, add text, blend audio tracks, to name a few.
– integration to Google Blogger and YouTube. Once I’m done with the images and videos, I can easily upload to post on Blogger or to YouTube. Nothing to shout about, but it’s neat.
– motion and wind sensor games. Pre-installed games demonstrate the capabilities of the LG motion and wind sensor. You get to roll dice, hit a “ball” up in the sky, blow bubbles, spin a wheel. Basically, the ‘wind’ sensor is just based on microphone volume. Instead of blowing to the mic, the same effect can be applied when speaking to the mic, although naturally it will be noisier than blowing.
– technically the slimmest and most portable 8 megapixel camera phone in the market. I like the understated design. One friend even thought that the device is a digital camera. The screen is bright and colours are rich.
The Viewty Smart is a phone with smart camera functions found only in some of the latest compact camera models, but what I really like is the level of image manipulation. I also had my share of fun with the motion-sensor games. The Viewty Smart will be a great device for photo bloggers who can capture images, edit, and post it online without leaving their phone off their eyes.