So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
LG Viewty KU990 mobile phone
- 5Mp camera with plenty of modes and features; large, responsive touch-screen; innovative software tools
- Jog wheel takes some getting used too, unable to upload MP3s to Muvee Studio
The Viewty KU990 will suit anyone who wants to combine their camera and mobile phone into one product. From picture resolution to call quality, it performs its two primary functions with stunning proficiency. Highly recommended.
Price$ 749.00 (AUD)
If we had a dollar for every mobile phone that has masqueraded as a camera, we'd be rich enough to buy a top-of-the-range SLR. Year after year, the big players in the mobile phone industry enthusiastically talk up their latest hybrid hopeful, promising that this time, it truly will deliver professional-level photographs. Unfortunately, the results are usually lacklustre at best, with the majority of models suitable for nothing more than a handful of grainy caller ID pics.
In recent months, this trend towards mediocrity has thankfully begun to fade, with models such as the Sony K810i and Nokia N95 offering impressive in-built cameras. Now, with the Viewty KU990, LG is attempting to raise the bar even higher. This eccentrically named gadget is a touch screen tri-band 3G-capable mobile phone equipped with a 5-megapixel sensor. In addition to taking stunningly vibrant images, it can be used to record video at up to 120 frames per second and is equipped with a host of advanced photography features, including auto and manual focus, an image stabiliser, multiple ISO and shutter speeds, a continuous shot mode and a professional Scheider-Hreuznach lens. At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, it could almost be classed as a camera first, and a mobile phone second.
The first thing that stands out about the Viewty KU990 is its sleek and arresting design. With its prominent front-mounted lens and extravagant LCD display, it could easily be mistaken for a compact camera. Indeed, we were initially a little reluctant to make calls in public, lest we look like a crazy person talking into a camera -- it truly bears almost no resemblance to a mobile phone. With overall dimensions of 103x54x14.8mm and weighing 112g, it is a little large for a handset, but attractively slim for a camera. All up, we think they got the balance just about right.
Using the camera is a blessedly simple affair, with all functions accessed via the intuitive touch screen interface. A slider button at the top of the device swaps between stills, video and a picture/video viewer. Thanks to the inclusion of a flash and an ISO 800 setting, the Viewty is remarkably adept at taking photos in dark environments. This is doubly impressive when you consider that few camera phones have achieved this feat in the past -- finally, you'll be able to chronicle your night-life without having to lug around a stand-alone camera. If we had to name one criticism, it would probably be the zoom function. We found using the jog wheel slightly cumbersome for this purpose, with our fingers occasionally obscuring the lens. (With that being said, a little time and practice should eventually eliminate this problem.)
In terms of picture quality, the Viewty doesn't disappoint. While we wouldn't recommend making large-sized prints, the images it produces are perfect for displaying on social networking sites, such as MySpace or Facebook. This is equally true of its video capabilities, which have been specifically designed for sharing on the Internet. Once you've played around with the inbuilt editing tools, it is possible to upload your creations directly to YouTube. As mentioned earlier, you can even record video at an impressive 120 frames per second, which is ideal for capturing sporting events or tragic dance moves. Handily, there is no time limit imposed on the duration of your videos, other than the amount of remaining memory (the Viewty is expandable by up to 2GB via MicroSD).
You can also make professional looking slideshows by using Muvee Studio; a one-step application that automatically cuts user-selected images to a musical soundtrack. Unfortunately, the software only supports a range of pre-selected tunes, but you can upload a variety of music files (MP3, WAV, AAC and AAC+) for other purposes. Despite this limitation, this is one of the slickest and most user-friendly applications we have seen on a mobile in quite some time.
Following in the footsteps of the pioneering Prada (KE850), the Viewty KU990 marks LG's second stab at a touch screen phone. Once again, we found the interface to be almost flawless. Each menu item is clearly labelled and large enough to effortlessly tap with your finger. Making calls is equally intuitive, with the spacious on-screen keypad easily accommodating meaty fingers (if you'd like to avoid ugly fingerprints, a stylus is also included). As you would expect, the bright, colourful display does an admirable job of displaying your photos and videos, putting the LCD screens on many compact cameras to shame.
Rounding out the package is a voice recorder, a music player, games, a selection of PIM features (alarm clock, calculator, world clock, unit converter, calendar and memo), and the ability to browse the Net with Google Package and Messenger service. We were impressed by the overall call quality of the Viewty, which consistently produced crisp, loud audio. Meanwhile, battery life is rated at 198 hours talk time and 270 hours standby time; a huge improvement on LG's previous Prada phone.
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