Camera, Flash, Action: review of the LG Viewty

I’ve reviewed LG’s new camera phone here. I found this an interesting device because it has a Flash UI, one that for the most part works very well. It also has an excellent camera. No wi-fi, which is a shame.

The Viewty is bound to be compared to the iPhone, because both have touch screens. The Viewty is cheaper and has more features (though it is missing a few as well), but to my mind its biggest handicap is that it lacks the polish and attention to detail which typifies Apple’s products.

Back in 2004 I reviewed the iRiver H140, a great MP3 player that was superior to Apple’s iPod in several respects. It had both digital input and output. It had a better battery. It had FM radio. It had a remote with controls and an LCD display. It had a built-in microphone and a mic input – I still use it for recording today.

The H140 was a modest success, but nothing in comparison to the mighty iPod. Why? It wasn’t just the marketing, or the looks, though both were factors. Another issue was that the H140 and its successor the H320 have perplexing controls that almost seem designed to catch you out. The iRiver also came with PC software that didn’t seem to do anything at all, though in fact it inserted some right-click options into Windows Explorer. It was a far cry from the slick iTunes/iPod integration.

The Viewty pays more attention to usability than the H140, but there are enough niggles – like the dangling stylus holder, the awkward jog wheel, or the error-prone LG PC Suite – that you wonder if these lessons have been learned.

On the positive side, the Viewty is an excellent phone, camera, and portable entertainment device. It proves that the Flash UI concept works, and that the day will come when I no longer need to take a standalone camera to conferences and the like – paying attention, Canon?

PS does anyone know how to take screen grabs from the Viewty? If I can figure it out, I’ll post some examples of the UI.

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