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Review GSM-handset LG KG800 Chocolate
Now, when the veil of the mystery was lifted, we can finally take a better glance at what these Chocolate, Black Label commercials were keeping back.
Over the very recent times, LG Electronics has been practicing the policy when potential have no idea of index of an upcoming model, but its affiliation with Black Label series. And the first model coming from Black Label line-up to appear on the European (May, 3rd) and CIS markets (May, 8th and 12th) was a slider. The handset stands out for its fancy design with touch keypad and feature pack.
Before launching the Chocolate Phone into Europe, the manufacturer had been testing it out in Korea, where it turned out to be an overwhelming success – during the first three months more than 300 thousands of these handsets were sold countrywide. To make the scale of its popularity clear, let us turn to the figures and simply say: that amount makes nearly 7% of the entire Korean market. Thus, stirred up with that, the company took the decision to widen audience coverage and expand Black Label’s boundaries from the home market only to the US, Australia and Europe.
Having read or caught a glimpse of available information on the Chocolate product line, you are likely to have no luck with picking out technical specifications – as a matter of fact, phrases like Black Label series, Chocolate and Magic touch are everything you’re going to find.
Black Label – a series of handsets coming in black with glossy, mirror-like finishing, featuring only safe materials and lead-free solder.
Chocolate Phones – phones, appearance-wise reminding of a bar of black chocolate.
Magic Touch – a commercial title of the technology applied to handsets with finger-tip control. The controls themselves are covered with compounds of silver.
Integrating, these mysterious titles attract everyone’s attention. The Chocolate Phone, which is the main subject of this review, is really an eye-grabbing thing, making people wonder whether it is a phone in your hands, and if yes, why it lacks buttons? But once the spring mechanism has revealed the controls, the initial astonishment turns into stupor. And it normal, firstly because this is a handset after all, but the numeric keys are laid out as if it was a chess-board; but secondly! Once unsprung, the flat, glossy becomes an easily distinguishable cell phone, as the controls mounted on the top half get lit up with red.
The efforts of the designers will be estimated at their true worth by anyone, who only grasps this handset. Basically, neither iF Design Award nor Red dot Design Award jury could withstand it, so the Chocolate’s box shows off two medals awarded by these associations.
Nevertheless, it’s time to put the dithyrambs aside and see what caused such sensation and why LG pays so much attention to this series.
The enormously rich standard kit is packed up in an appealing black box, which appears to be made of cloth at the first glance.
When getting a grip on the handset, the very first thing grabbing your eyes is a silver rectangle with rounded corners, since it is the only prominent thing on the front; the top rim, right above the display holds a horizontal opening with black loudspeaker’s grill placed into it.
The handset is switched on by pressing the key found on the right side. In fact this is the first time LG uses a special power button. The phone can be turned on when closed; yet in order to prevent accidental shutting offs in pockets, the developers made it possible to switch the device off only when it is open.
This is the way the phone starts up: at first the greeting screen shows WOWLG portal ad, afterwards the dark-red backlighting gets activated – overall it takes 30 seconds for the handset to become fully operational. Next to the power button you will find a dedicated button standing for Multimedia menu (MP3, camera). Newly developed interface connector, sealed up with a plastic stub, is positioned on the top – it is compatible with USB-cable, charger and stereo-handset. The company has knowingly left out all other jacks, since it does not overcrowd the casing and allows using the released space in a better way in the first place, and on top of that one won’t need to memorize which jack means what. And finally, all future models located in the price brackets from middle to the most luxurious will be carrying exactly this interface, so that all accessories will be interchangeable – be it chargers or headphones.
The opposite side houses another rocker key for locking the phone by double pressing. Apart from this it doubles as scroller, volume key in standby mode (tunes volume) or during a call (voice volume).
The other sides lack any controls or jacks, in light of using the brand new interface connector.
Having looked on the rear you will find it being absolutely flat with only exception of battery cover, which is well-tuned and exposes no gap.
Pushing the top half forward, you will notice that the phone smoothly slides up to the stop with an audible click – the same sound you will hear when closing the phone. On opening the keypad and controls get lit in red, matching the wallpapers, which feature the same black-red color combination.
By default the phone holds six pictures – all they harmonically fit the stylish image of the entire Black Label and Chocolate Phone’s masterpiece design in particular. The display measures 5 cm (2 inches, 31õ40 mm) in diagonal, therefore appears quite big. It’s capable of displaying up to 262 K colors and conforms to those, embedded in the latest solutions by LG – while reading that you might have thought of sharp picture and great viewing angles, and that holds true for this unit as well.
The numeric buttons are laid out very close to each other, yet this doesn’t bring impediments to working with them. Each pad is slightly bulging and has its own texture, so their composition is something chessboard-looking.
The rear of sliding half holds the camera module, as well as a tiny mirror and LED flash. On closer examination of the spring mechanism, it turns out to be somewhat different from that found on LG M6100 and most likely should be less exposed to getting soiled.
So that is all I have to say about Chocolate Phone’s appearance, saving for the silver edging along the casing and touch keys.
Touch keys – pros and cons
Since all mechanical parts in a handset or any other gadget are exposed to wear and tear, the LG’s engineers have chosen the other route and armed their fashion models with touch keys.
But what is so good about them?
First of all – outlook, they appear really cool and luxurious, in fact I can hardly imagine Chocolate Phone with some other kind of keys.
The next fetching thing - no moving details and thus almost no malfunctions and soiling, such common for standard buttons.
And the last but not the least – room saving, as there is no need in rubber framings and plate.
Also, having touch buttons on your phone, you can forget about accidental presses, which frequently happen when carrying the phone in skin-tight cloths, right away. Key lock may be set up to ignore any presses even those of side buttons, when the handset is closed. The keypad gets blocked once the sliding half has covered it, so after that there are two ways of removing the lock – by unspringing the phone or double pressing the side-mounted rocker key. This means the handset remains operational even when closed.
The sensors in the touch buttons react even to fading presses, so consequentially typing speed will increase, but in case you’ve gotten used to this system, yet it doesn’t take to long – an hour or two at worst.
The software part is alike that of the latest releases by LG. The menu has the appearance of a grid with 9 animated icons.
We won’t particularize each item on the menu, because you can read exactly the same facts in reviews of P7200, M6100, M4410 – we’d rather focus your attention on the most interesting capabilities, as the only distinguishable difference between the Chocolate Phone and an ordinary LG phone is extended standby mode, featuring fast access menu, similar to that of Motorola or Nokia (Series 40 Third Edition).
Phonebook can store 1000 contacts at once – each entry is limited to 40 symbols in length, regardless of chosen language, and 4 telephone numbers (mobile, work, home, fax). There are also e-mail address field, group (one of seven available, which can be renamed) and image (72õ72 pixels). Amount of symbols in “search” line equal to that of maximally enabled for name field. This handset is powered by a technology applied to several other phones by LG – answering machine. There are two pre-set answer types with two more available for filling. Triggering time of this function – 3, 5 or 10 seconds..
Those who tend to communicate using primarily SMS services will be pleased with memory reserved for these purposes – 150 SMS, 100 MMS and 110 ýëåêòðîííûõ ïèñåì (eMail). Maximum size of a MMS is 100 Kb, eMail – 100 Kb on sending and 300 Kb on uploading. While typing a text message you can change font color, style, size, background and alignment. The phone saves all attachments found in eMail, besides there is a possibility for sending files in any extension from the phone’s memory.
The built-in media player works with MP3, AAC, AAC+, AAC++, WMA; 3GP, MP4. The phone handles TXT-files as well – the provided app allows choosing one of seven languages or setting auto detection.
Sound quality with the default earphones plugged in is a little higher than average. While volume of MP3 and WMA files depends on given tune, polyphonic melodies sound a bit quite. In view of there is only a single loudspeaker integrated into the phone, all ring tones, music and voices go through it. The silent alarm triggers simultaneously with tune regardless of its format. Already set equalizer’s settings let you pick one of the following schemes: Classic, Jazz, Pop, Rock, Bass or Standard. The video player plays back clips only in minimized mode and is capable of skipping videos forward/backward. Both audio and video players cannot be switched to working in background.
Settings, the last item on the menu, contains options for adjusting date and time, display (brightness, backlighting time with power saving mode available), menu style, network name, home screen label and dial font type. This section holds connectivity setup, including Bluetooth 1.2, Modem, Network and GPRS. Answer mode is also founded here, allowing you to choose from three possible way of picking up: slide up, any key (once the handset’s been opened), send key only. No call can be received while the phone is closed due to several reasons: first of all in order to prevent random pick ups; when unsprung, microphone and loudspeaker are located on level of your mouth and ear respectively; and finally the handset looks really great when it is open. The touch pad gets locked for the time while you are receiving a call, so any accidental presses are excluded. Whether it is for the better or worse – it’s all up to you.
The phone also features a couple of Security settings, like PIN-code request, handset lock, as well as call barring, fixed dial number, security code – each items shows off wide range of available
First things first – the manufacturer has managed to break the bank exactly where it wanted to; personally, I have failed to find someone thinking the design looks homely. But the other companies are not folding either – the closest competitor to this handset will be the upcoming Samsung E900. Despite being a true feature power-house, its appearance matches that of all latest models by Samsung, although it has several touch buttons to offer.
LG has already spent, and most certainly will spend even more on advertising campaign to make sure everyone is aware of its new eye-grabbing solution. Here are some plans on the campaign: all points of purchase, proposing Chocolate Phones will be equipped with special stands, leaflets, telling potential consumers about Black Label series; all countries have already individual portal made beforehand – at the release on the Ukrainian market (4 days after official presentation in Russia), LG launches an updates version of its international site http://www.lgmobile.com.
Few weeks ago (4th of May) CNN had Mister Ham, president of Europe division Mobile Communication Company LG Electronics Inc.) in their morning news, he was being interviewed about Chocolate Phone. And in case my memory doesn’t fail me, this is the first time when CNN was speaking about a mobile phone in their news.
Depending on success on the CIS and European markets, the company may take a decision to launch more of Black Label series, Chocolate Phones in particular, photos of which have already been spotted on the net, as well as the recently announced LG KV6000 aimed at the Korean market only.
The price for Chocolate Phone will vary in the range from 500$ to 650$ depending on region.
Note by the Editor-in-Chief. This is the first time I can recall, when LG altered standard kit of its handset and basically included almost every handy accessory currently available. The very first glance at the box, where each part has its own place, makes you believe that it is worth the money. Even though we won’t guarantee you amazements or admiring gazes from other people in the street, we assure you of receiving enough covert glances. Comparing this model with LG W510 I shall note that they have some bits in common, namely their significance – each in its time. The handset seems very appealing design and composition-wise, by that I mean everything, starting from ring tones, wallpapers to the headphones found in the box. It’s a rare occasion to see such in all manners balanced product. That is how come its price is affected not by the specifications, which are quite moderate, but the stylishness and appearance. Generally speaking LG makes its first steps in the field of fashion handsets, even taking account of earlier attempts to seem a major player on the fashion market. The “Chocolate’s” sale rates will be strongly depending on operators’ activity, namely Vodafone, which is scheduling a massive advertising campaign, looking for boosting the sales. In Russia the phone may be able to find its niche, but I wouldn’t recommend expecting enormous rates, since the manufacturer takes up a minor share of the market, and what is more, Samsung’s very own E900, an obvious opponent for the KG800 is coming in June, which has way to go in terms of design, yet significantly overcomes LG’s handset functionality-wise. Considering almost similar expenses on promoting these two solutions, you could note that the E900 is more likely to be a bigger success in retail chains, while the KG800 looks marvelous and will appeal to those, seeking for fresh ideas in design and not paying much of attention to the manufacturer’s size or image. And this phone fits all these criteria.
Published 24 May 2006
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