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Another false step comes with the camera. Whilst it looks fantastic on the rear of the handset, in use the five megapixel shooter is nothing to write home about. Pictures lack detail and multiple light sources really confuse the sensor. As always, perfect conditions lead to excellent photos but anything less and you'll be somewhat disappointed. This is a shame because one LG's breakout features is a 'Panorama Shot', though – as you'll see below – the effect is undermined by the poor quality of the images themselves. 720p video recording is little better with panning jerky and quality grainy.
The good news is from here things improve markedly. Panaroma shot may be a nice idea, but it is likely to be replicated by numerous Windows Phone Marketplace apps in coming months. Instead the real differentiator is LG's wise decision to add DLNA support through its 'Play To' app. This enables handset owners to wirelessly stream pictures, music and video to DLNA compatible TVs, stereos, consoles and PCs of which there are many and the system works flawlessly.
Consequently the ability to walk into a room and fire music at the stereo, video at the TV and pictures at a digital photo frame really do feel like a slice of the future. What slightly sours the experience is Play To comes from LG's own Windows Phone 7 app store, which only stocks 10 apps at the time of this review and does little other than to encourage fragmentation. This is a worrying early trend since Microsoft's strict hardware requirements are likely to encourage desperate handset makers to try and differentiate their handsets any way they can.
This theme continues with LG's 'Voice to Test' feature which can be used to write emails or update Facebook and Twitter while staying clear of the (admittedly rather decent) Windows Phone 7 virtual keyboard. It is fairly accurate, though does still show quirks depending on accent and intonation – sometimes with unintentionally hilarious/dangerous consequences. My advice: always proofread.
As for more mundane, but arguably more important aspects. The LG scores a win with a capacious 1500mAh battery which consistently saw the Optimus 7 last a full day, sometimes two days, depending on usage. This is significantly better than you'll get from HTC's HD7 Windows Phone 7 handset and its 1230mAh battery, all Android handsets and the iPhone 4. As for call quality, it is the usual smartphone story: good in areas of strong reception, more mediocre elsewhere but the subjective nature of cell phone reception from network to network and place to place make this a hard area to rate objectively.
What is worth bearing in mind though is you'll need good Vodafone reception where you live since the Optimus 7 is a UK exclusive. The upside is price plans are good value with the phone being free on deals under £30 per month. Sim free is a more painful £499.99 and should be avoided at this price.
There is no denying the Optimus 7 is an extremely polished handset and its implementation of DLNA is far and away its killer feature. On the flip side the camera is a disappointment and you'll need to buy in the knowledge that however slick Windows Phone 7 is it remains painfully short of core functionality at present. Vodafone price plans do make this easier to swallow, so if you've decided Microsoft's new OS is for you check the DNLA status of your existing gadgets and dive in. The water's great.
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