We apologise for the delay in publishing this second part of our LG Viewty Smart GC900 review. Having received plenty of emails, we thought the most useful way to continue our sequel was to review the main features which you folks wanted us to test out and comment on further.
Features / Functionality
- S-Class User Interface: Like the LG Arena, the Viewty Smart runs the same UI / operating system developed by LG. For those of you who have contacted us wondering how well it compares to the likes of the iPhone OS, Android OS or Windows Mobile. What we can say is that each one has its own good points and bad points. Despite this being the second handset from LG running the new S-Class, we have no complaints whatsoever and continue to enjoy the ability to quickly access functions and widgets via its unique spinning 3D cube. For those not so familiar, the 3D cube gives you quick access to widgets, multimedia, contacts and shortcuts. On the Viewty Smart a button on the right of the phone has been dedicated so that the cube may quickly spring into action on demand. In addition, this new cube key when held pressed also functions as a button for launching the multitasking menu. Though the Viewty Smart only allows you to multitask two applications at any one time (also with a Java app running in the background you won’t be able to turn an application like radio or stopwatch on), this is a convenient way to launch common features and terminate apps swiftly. The S-Class is simple and not difficult to get to grips with. Speaking about ease of use, a simple slide or tap of the top status icons when you’re in the homepage will actually open up a screen giving you quick access to alarms, music player, events in your calendar and also bluetooth or WiFi. The S-Class on the Viewty Smart is great for those who find it confusing to understand the complexity of open source UIs and want more structure in an easy to use interface. On the flipside, the S-Class has downloadable firmware updates from LG’s support web online making it very similar to the iPhone or WM. One of the down points to the S-Class which was very obvious when we reviewed the Arena was the inability to download or install further applications. However, this has changed. LG’s launch of its application store is still in its early days and as of now only supports those in Australia and Singapore but it looks to have great potential to expand with plenty of both free and paid apps to come.
- Phonebook, Messaging and Emailing: Compared to many other touchscreen smartphones, the LG Viewty Smart GC900 has one of the easiest to use phonebooks / contacts function. Identical to that of the LG Arena, contacts can be categorised into groups or favourites. Along with mainstream features like speed dialing and contacts search, we think its contacts menu is simple, clearcut and well designed. For each new contact, you have the option of adding an image, an email address and also the ability to place the contact into a specified contact group, give it a specific ringtone as well as other info such as home address, company address, job title. We especially liked the ability to add birthdays and anniversaries, this isn’t something we see very often on phones of this class. Not surprisingly, the contacts function on the GC900 gives you the preference to how you want your contacts’ name to be displayed, either first name first or last name first. Shifting your contacts around can be done seaminglessly either by copying, moving to and from your sim card or by sending it to another phone via bluetooth. Messaging wise, we liked the fact that with every message seen within the inbox, there would be a quick reply button to the right of it this means that you won’t need to go into the message again in order to reply to it if you had already read it before. In any message folder, a quick single tap of the message title would enable you to read the content of the message. Apart from the standard inbox, outbox, sent and drafts folder, you also get threaded view as well as the option to create your own message folders. When composing new messages (MMS supported!), you can attach pictures, videos and sounds as well as business cards, schedules, memos and details of tasks you stored on the Viewty Smart. As you type a message, you will notice a T9 on and off button at the bottom right, writing languages supported by our Viewty Smart includes English, Italiano, Dutch and French though this may vary according to where you buy yours. The on screen keypad which pops up supports landscape mode, though in portrait mode, you don’t get a QWERTY on screen and instead just the classic keypad (picture above). For many users, having a smartphone that keeps them updated with the latest emails is crucial. Email on the Viewty Smart GC900 is quite straight forward to setup and use. This is especially so if you plan on setting up your Gmail account on the GC900 for example, fill in the account and password fields and the rest of the connection settings are retrieved automatically. In case you have to setup your email account manually, there is a host of settings that you need to enter. Both POP3 and IMAP4 protocols are supported and you can set the handset to auto retrieve new mail at a preset interval with a dedicated setting for roaming. The email client supports SSL encryption too. Maximum attachment size for both outgoing and incoming mail is 1MB, as it was on the LG Arena. The problem with this was probably not realised by the developers of this phone as this isn’t enough for an eight megapixel photo. A 3.2 MP snap or a small video will go through though, while attachments such as documents or presentations should not be a problem to most. Unfortunately .zip or .rar are not among the supported file types for attachments, but you can save those to the phone memory when you receive them. Microsoft Office and .pdf files can be opened and viewed directly within the email client.
- Connectivity and Internet Browsing: With quadband GSM/GPRS/EDGE and HSDPA 7.2 Mbps on board, the LG Viewty Smart also supports bluetooth and WiFi. Bluetooth version running on the GC900 2.1, this boasts A2DP support for stereo streaming while the Wi-Fi antenna works with 802.11 b/g. When it comes to staying connected, the Viewty Smart is definitely not short on connectivity options. We’ve found through use that whenever an application which requires internet access is launched it will always prompt you to choose between UMTS and WiFi. Though the on board browser which comes with the GC900 isn’t comparable to the likes of Safari on the iPhone in terms of design, it isn’t actually poor on functionality and boasts pretty much all that you need in a mobile browser. It’s equipped with functions such as RSS reader, history, bookmarks, portrait / landscape mode and even browser tabs! Despite this I’m sure some of you will still want to try alternative browsers, we advise in this case to try out Opera Mini which we tested to run quite smoothly on the GC900.
- Gallery and My Stuff (File Management): You may be wondering whether there is any difference between the two, in fact there is. Not unexpectedly, gallery on the Viewty Smart only allows you to see and handle images and videos. On the other hand, if you tap into My Stuff, all you will see are non images and video files, this was slightly annoying, because Gallery didn’t offer the same easy to use folder by folder browsing. An additional difficulty we experienced was, if you had a video file in your memory card that you wanted to look for but forgot the name of it, it would take you literally forever. Though its Gallery feature did allow you to view its files according to filename, it was not a solution, especially if you had a memory card packed with too many images or videos as it would just try to generate a thumbnail for you for all of them. Apart from this, we thought the gallery provided sufficient capabilities, particularly well done were portrait / landscape modes (like that on iPhone but with cover flow like effect), two point zooming (also like that of the iPhone using two fingers to zoom in and out on any image) though this was slightly laggy at times. For those who asked, yes, indeed the GC900 does allow you to mark multiple files for processing at the same time.
I hope everyone enjoyed this second part of our Viewty Smart review. In the next part of our review which we are just about ready to publish (early next week is predicted), we’ll show you some of the LG Viewty Smart GC900′s coolest multimedia features including some photos we recently took using its Schnelder Kreuznach optics equipped eight megapixel camera. So stay tuned and in the meantime, keep those emails coming so that we know what you want to find out the most!