One of the very best looking handsets on the market, the Viewty combines the striking good looks of the LG Prada with some serious functionality. Even though it can be fiddly, the touchscreen interface looks great.
Where do you start. As well as the clever 'haptic' vibro-response touchscreen interface, the Viewty has an excellent five megapixel camera, multi format music player, and HSDPA for high speed internet access.
There will always be a debate over touchscreen ease of use, although the Viewty is more practical than most thanks to its vibro-response virtual keys. The icon based menu system is a doddle to use, although we could do with some menu headers.
As a touchscreen phone, the Viewty performs pretty well compared to the competition. While the camera and music player perform well, our main issue was with the click wheel which controls the phone's camera zoom and call volume and was very fiddly to use.
The Viewty boasts very respectable talk and standby times, but there's so much going on, the phone needs regular charging.
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 3:49:51 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
A wonderful feature set in a sleek package, including a large, dynamic display give the Viewty real star appeal.
The click-wheel zoom is fiddly and the battery struggles to cope with powering all that functionality.
Like the more design-focused LG KE850 Prada, which launched earlier this year, the LG KU990 Viewty is a touch-screen handset with no keypad. However, while there are many design similarities between the two devices, the Viewty offers some significant breakthroughs in technology and usability.Let's look at usability first, as this usually determines the ultimate appeal of a phone to the mass market.
Although they look the business, Mobile Choice has long voiced the opinion that touch-screen phones can be difficult to use. The lack of a physical keypad means that you're relying purely on the visuals to tell you if your intended contact with the handset has been registered. As a result, you can mis-type keys, tap a key twice, or neglect to tap anything altogether and it can prove to be an infuriating experience - especially if you are in a hurry. And who isn't these days when they're using their mobile?Thankfully, the Viewty goes some way towards remedying that problem by providing a vibration response every time you touch a virtual key or command on the touch-screen. The phone vibrates very slightly to register that you've pressed a button.It's still no substitute for a standard keypad, but it has enabled LG to design yet another beautiful phone with a huge screen.
The Viewty comes with a 240x400 (W-QVGA), 262,000-colour TFT-LCD display, which measures an impressive 40x65mm - taking up most of the handset's front fascia.On the side of the phone, you'll find the Viewty's only keys: a dedicated camera key; a lock key (essential when the entire front of the phone is a virtual keypad and menu) and a small switch, which lets you slide between camera, video camera and video playback modes.On the back of the phone, you'll find the camera's flash and Schneider Kreuznach lens, which is surrounded by a jog-wheel which operates both the camera's zoom and the ability to zoom in and out of webpages.
Handwriting recognition has been a staple on many PDAs for years and, while it's novel to have, it's a real 'love it or hate it' technology, depending on the handset's recognition abilities. The Viewty encourages users to use the boxed stylus to personalise your photos by writing on them. We tried it and it works really well. Of course, the technology is better suited to scribbling a few words, not scrawling War and Peace. However, it's a quirky extra we rather like.
With mobile broadband (HSDPA) and a large display on offer, accessing the internet should be a real pleasure with the Viewty. While it looks the bee's knees, there are some usability issues which are largely down to the touch-screen. When you access your internet homepage, you'll notice a series of virtual internet control options that appear at the bottom of the touch-screen.These are simple shortcuts, which enable you to add to favourites, zoom in and out of the page and alter the view between portrait and landscape. Whichever way you choose to view the pages, they look great. It's when you come to browsing that you hit trouble. The Viewty is designed to be navigated with your fingertips or using the stylus. You can stroke the webpage up or down as if you are moving a piece of paper - just as you can with the HTC Touch. The functionality is erratic; sometimes the screen scrolls up and down, sometimes it doesn't. The same applies to the scroller bars on the side and bottom of the phone.The problem is, although the Viewty's display is large by mobile standards, you can only ever see part of a page, which makes scrolling essential. And if the scrolling mechanism is erratic, you'll simply stop browsing. This is a real problem. A side-mounted jog-dial might help, or simple navigation keys beneath the phone's display.Similarly, the jog-wheel which controls the camera's zoom can also be employed to zoom in and out of the internet pages and to control the volume of voice calls. A great idea in theory, but it doesn't work that well in practice. It's fiddly as both a camera and browser zoom, as well as a volume control.
The usability issues that afflict the Viewty's web browsing and camera zooming don't overly sully a phone which has a lot of tricks hidden beneath its glossy exterior.The touch-screen operation is the best we've enjoyed to date for making calls, sending texts and email and navigating through the Viewty's icon-based menu. The vibration response really does improve the touch-screen experience and the overall simplicity of the Viewty's operating system is also a major plus.There are 24 icon-based menu options, which are divided into four key menu categories - each represented by a symbol. It would help if the four key categories were named, however. The first menu category is represented by a phone symbol and here you'll find the relevant call, contacts and messaging options. Beneath the movie clipboard icon (at least, that's what we think it is) you'll find the fun multimedia stuff like camera, movie studio, games, FM radio, music and video playlist. Under the filofax/clock icon, you'll find the phone's organisational tools like calendar, memo and alarm, plus the internet browser. And by clicking on the menu graphic that could represent either a flower or a cog, you'll be taken to the phone's profiles and settings, plus the Bluetooth connectivity.It won't take you long to find out where everything is and you'll be zipping around the phone's menu in no time, although some simple labelling would help.All of the Viewty's multimedia capabilities, from game playing to watching movie clips and home videos, are enhanced by the phone's high-resolution screen.
The Viewty's pre-loaded game, Space Commando, is well chosen because its graphics and gameplay make full use of the handset's large interface. It's essentially a 3D action shoot-em-up set in AD 3765 on Space Commando Platoon - a space station devised and created to withstand various threats to humanity.Aside from some basic spelling errors in the scene setting, the graphics and attention to detail are great. The touch-responsive screen allows you to blast the bad guys, simply by tapping them with your finger or stylus as they appear. It sounds simple in theory, but as the baddies appear from nowhere, firing at you thick and fast, it can get a little hairy, and you have to ensure that you don't lose points by getting trigger-happy and blasting good guys.
Like many of this year's most anticipated handsets, the LG Viewty KU990 has got loads going for it. It looks fabulous, the spec sheet is incredible and its 5.1-megapixel camera and HSDPA capabilities ensure it has a place among the top echelon of phones.Unfortunately, there are too many little niggles to make this a stone-cold classic and most relate to the touch-screen and the click-wheel zoom. Although this is much better and more responsive than any others we've used to date, we're yet to be totally won over by touch-screen phones. In the Viewty's case, though, it's the touch-screen operation of the camera and web browser that lets it down.