The Renoir is a full touchscreen device that closely resembles handsets like the Samsung Omnia and, to some extent the Apple iPhone 3G.
Considering it houses an eight-megapixel camera phone and such a generous feature set, it’s remarkably thin, but it’s still larger than you average mobile. Overall, it’s an attractive device without being striking.
The LG Renoir is absolutely crammed with features, serving up full touch-screen functionality, HSDPA speed internet browsing, an accelerometer for motion-sensor gaming, Dolby Mobile sound quality, DivX video capability, A-GPS, an eight-megapixel camera, a music player and loads of video functionality. Plus you get an 8GB memory card in the box so you won’t be short of storage.
A relatively easy phone to use and the touch-screen interface is pretty responsive. We have one or two issues with the screen auto-locking in widget mode and scrolling through pages can be a little hit and miss, but it’s a fun and intuitive phone to use.
The camera is excellent and produces photos that look excellent on the Renoir’s huge screen, even if we did have problems transferring them from the device to a PC or printer. The video function is also top notch, as is the sound quality of the Dolby-enhanced music player. Motion-sensor gaming is also great, although we preferred the sports orientated games on the LG Secret and KC550 to the board games available on the Renoir. However, even if you find touch-screen phones fiddly to use, you can’t quibble about the overall performance of the Renoir.
The battery life on the LG Renoir is adequate without being overly impressive. You should get by on a charge every other day with average phone use. However, use it intensively and it’s more like a charge a day.
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 3:53:16 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
The LG Renoir packs in a tremendous camera plus every feature you could hope for in a mobile device.
It is not the sleekest touch-screen device.
LG is developing a habit of producing record-breaking camera phones, albeit for a brief period. Its LG Secret KF750 was, for a short time, the slimmest five-megapixel camera phone on the market. Then, for at least 24 hours, the LG Renoir KC910 could lay claim to being the slimmest eight-megapixel device to be unveiled in the UK. Then Samsung spoilt the party by unveiling the eight-megapixel Pixon phone, just 0.2mm thinner.
Record holder or not, the Renoir is still pretty sleek for a device that is packing such a powerful camera, especially when compared with the Samsung i8510, for example.
That said, you are more likely to compare the Renoir with models such as the Samsung Tocco and the iPhone 3G because they are also full touch-screen devices where the large display is the dominant aesthetic. It is just a touch thicker than both, which is impressive when you consider the protruding lens.
But if you want a touch-screen device with the very best specifications, there is always a trade off. With the iPhone 3G it’s the camera, with the LG Renoir it’s the thickness – which is ironic when you consider that it was a record breaker for housing an eight-megapixel camera.
For all its fabulous features – and the Renoir packs in loads – the device’s two outstanding characteristics are its camera and its touch-screen user interface. So, we will look at these first.
Of the current crop of eight-megapixel handsets, the Renoir arguably looks the least like a conventional digital camera, despite its large Schneider-Kreuznach lens and Xenon flash. That does not detract from its photographic capabilities though, which are pretty awesome.
You can fire up the camera by sliding open the lens cover using the little switch on the lens.
With the camera on, all of the virtual camera settings appear on the touch-screen display. They are timed to disappear again quickly as a power-save feature, but a swift tap brings them back.
The beauty of the touch-screen settings is that most of the key camera features are accessible with a single click, including flash and red-eye reduction, the various shot modes (smile, continuous, panorama and beauty), exposure and zoom, plus the video camera.
You also get direct access to the settings menu, which enables you to control features like blink detection, macro, scene mode, ISO and backlight compensation.
As you may have gathered, this is a pretty serious camera. You really do need to understand a little bit about photography before you go tampering with some of the manual settings. Take the ISO light setting for example, which determines the amount of light the camera sensor takes in. As amateur snappers, we doubt whether we were able to take full advantage of the option that lets you choose any ISO setting between 100 and 1,600, but the mere
fact that it is possible is oddly reassuring.
Thankfully, in addition to the plethora of manual modes and settings, the camera on the Renoir makes it as easy as possible to take good quality point and shoot photos.
Image stabilisation, for example, lets you take sharp, blur-free photos even if you are suffering from hand shakes, and both auto-focus and auto-flash also help you take better photos without having to use your brain too much.
We have noticed that the top camera phones are now starting to pack in some novelty extras that are very much a trait of the digital age. We have seen blink detection and smile detection on a few top handsets now and they are both here on the Renoir. For the uninitiated, smile detection enables the camera to automatically take a snap when the subject smiles, and the blink mode notifies you if anyone in the frame blinks once the shutter is pressed.
Rather more innovative, however, is the beauty shot feature, which automatically removes any spots
and blemishes present on the subject’s face – although only in the photo, unfortunately.
The beauty shot uses smart technology to detect a face and apply the effect to the required areas. The real bonus is that the technology is applied as the photo is taken rather than afterwards, as is the case with Photo Fix on the Sony Ericsson Cyber-shot phones.
It really works, as does the convenient Touch Shot functionality that allows you to focus on a subject by simply touching the focal point on the phone’s touch-screen. It is particularly useful if you choose to focus on someone who is on the periphery of a group. The photo
is automatically taken simply by removing your finger from the screen.
There is so much to say about the Renoir’s camera that it could take up three magazine pages in itself. It is enough to say that the photographic functions on the Renoir KC910 appear to be excellent in most conditions.
That said, we did struggle to download our photos from the phone onto our PC, either by Bluetooth or USB, or to a photo printer. So, although they looked excellent on the Renoir’s large display, we cannot confirm how they look when blown up in size.
Touch-screen phones now occupy a phone category in their own right and the Renoir is sure to be followed by a swathe of fully touch-sensitive devices over the next 12 months.
To date, the iPhone represents everything that is good about the touch-screen UI. Rival manufacturers have offered commendable efforts, but nothing that can really match the iPhone’s UI for its simplicity and iconic beauty.
Too often, it feels as though touch-screens are added because the manufacturer feels that they are ticking another box on the feature set. Five-megapixel camera: tick. Music player: tick. Touch-screen: tick. As a result, the user interface can feel a little cursory.
A truly effective touch-screen UI should enhance the user experience and work on every level, without users having to resort to the instruction booklet.
In fairness, the LG Renoir has a pretty good stab at the touch-screen, although its appearance is rather similar to the TouchWiz customisable user interface you get on the Samsung Omnia and Tocco.
In the Renoir’s case, rather than TouchWiz, you get widgets. By pressing the little ‘w’ icon in the bottom right corner of the screen, you are presented with a little gallery of widgets that act as shortcuts to key applications. To open an application, you need to drag it from the widget gallery and drop it onto the main screen. It is a nice idea that works well.
Before you can open an application, you have to remember to re-activate the display (it de-activates and turns dull when you choose widget mode, so that you do not mistakenly open a widget before it has been selected). This may have seemed like a good idea to LG at the time, but it is actually a bit annoying.
LG KC910 Renoir - The Renoir’s main menu
To access the Renoir’s main menu you need to press the little blue icon that looks like an electric cooker.
Anyone who has used an LG phone recently will be familiar with the menu structure on offer here. To recap, you get four menu folders – communicate, entertainment, utilities and settings. Simply touch a menu folder and a full array of sub-menu applications will occupy the screen.
The user interface is fully touch-sensitive and it is all pleasantly responsive. The handset is designed to auto-lock so that you do not access any of the applications while the phone is in your pocket. We recommend setting this to ‘after 60 seconds’, otherwise you find yourself forever having to click and hold the virtual screen unlock key.
It generally uses an intuitive user interface, which offers a good touch-screen experience – although it is a little suspect if ever you have to scroll up or down a menu bar to view more menu options.
The LG Renoir excels as both a music and video player and comes packed with state-of-the-art technology. It is the first European handset to feature Dolby Mobile sound technology, designed to improve the audio performance of the phone. The sound quality is very good and the Renoir comes boxed with an 8GB microSD card, so there is room for thousands of tracks. The Renoir also comes boxed with stereo in-ear headphones and there is an adaptor that plugs into the LG port so that you can
use your own headphones.
We would have preferred the Renoir to offer a 3.5mm headset port as standard so that you could plug in your headphones while charging
Although we tend to associate the need for a 3.5mm headset port with a phone’s music capabilities, it is also highly relevant when using the handset’s DivX video player.
DivX technology allows you to download and store digital videos to your phone in the same way you would an MP3 music file. In the
not-too-distant future, once the appropriate licensing rights are in place, it is expected that we will be able to download full digital movies to our handsets from a virtual online video store.
When you consider that the Renoir also features a TV-out facility, it is likely that people will wish to use the phone as a portable DVD player to watch movies on a full TV screen while staying in a hotel. If this is the case, you would want to ensure that the phone was on charge so that it would not run out of juice before the movie finishes.
As well as DivX (and xvid) for video playback, the Renoir also features excellent video recording facilities. Like the LG Secret, you can record videos in VGA quality at 30fps and QVGA at 120fps for slow-motion video recording and QVGA video at 5fps for fast-motion video recording.
Although the Renoir possesses too many features to discuss in detail, it is worth mentioning the device’s navigation functionality. The Renoir features built-in GPS, enables A-GPS and offers Google Maps as standard. However, we noticed that when using the handset with Orange, the Google Maps application (usually found in utilities) had disappeared. This is probably because the operators will be offering their own sat nav application subscription service. It is worth checking to see if your operator blocks Google Maps, as ours did.
The other stalwart feature on LG handsets is the motion-sensor gaming, enabled by the accelerometer. There are a couple of new games on offer, most notably Snakes and Ladders, which requires you to shake the phone in order to shake the dice. It’s good old-fashioned fun, although we noticed that the snakes are upside down with the head at the bottom rather than the top.
LG KC910 Renoir - The verdict
Whether it be as a camera, a music player, a video provider, a sat nav solution or a gaming device, the Renoir has stacks to keep
The camera and video player are excellent and the feature set is probably the best out there. It is
not the sleekest-looking touch-screen device we have seen and it is not as user friendly as a certain phone we could mention. But we do like the Renoir, and LG’s star continues to ascend.