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The volume rocker is the only control on the left side, while the right side has a single tiny button for camera control.
The screens, both front and internal, are rather good. The front screen isn’t large – just 128 x 160 pixels, 1.3 inches corner to corner, but it is a vibrant and clear example of what OLED can achieve. Internally the 320 x 240 pixel TFT screen is again bright and sharp. The internal area could cater for something bigger than 2.2 diagonal inches, though.
They keypad is flat, which brought a rather resigned sigh from me at first sight. But as with the outer music control keys I was pleasantly surprised. The keys are all large which makes finding them easy, and there is enough ‘give’ in them when pressed to allow fast texting.
Above the number keys are shorcuts to the handset’s menu, 3’s online music store and for video calling. Above this again are Call and End keys, Back and Clear/speaker keys, softkeys and a huge navigation button with integrated shortcuts on its north, east, south and west edges for profile setting, contacts, email and 3’s Mobile TV service.
I have a few issues with the camera. Image quality is reasonable outdoors. The daffodils were shot on the sort of bright spring day that can cause real exposure problems for mobiles left on their manual setting, but here the definition is acceptable. The coloured dish, shot indoors under ordinary household lighting, is by contrast disappointing, being rather darker and less well defined than I’d have liked.
Camera control is a mix of the superbly simple and the downright annoying. On the simple side of things, with the flip open and the main 2-megapixel camera facing outwards, the left softkey can be used to take pictures. But when you close the clam the outer screen doesn’t act as a viewfinder. That means to take pictures involving yourself you have to rely on the inner VGA camera. At least getting to all the camera settings is a simple enough matter of using the left softkey to get into Options and then the navigation button.
Other features on this phone not already alluded to include Bluetooth with A2DP for output to a Bluetooth stereo headset, calendar, to-do list and memo tools, LG’s ‘secret memo’ application which protects notes with a passcode, alarm clock, calculator, unit converter. There’s also a ‘Date finder’ and ‘Dateulator’. With the former you can set a date, and ask the phone to tell you what the date will be a certain number of days from that date.
The latter seems to be a sort of ‘days-to-go’ tasks list. You give it a date and some info relating to that date, and it gives you a counter of how many days you have to wait for the thing to be due/be live or whatever. This doesn’t integrate with the To-do list manager, which doesn’t have due dates, just low, medium and high priority for tasks.
While the LG U830 has some good features, such as its large-keyed number pad and twin batteries, I can’t help feeling LG has some sort of built in self-destruct mechanism. Why no external memory support? Why no snapping stills with the front screen as a viewfinder? A missed opportunity.
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