LG KE850 Prada review: Sophistication made simple
Ergonomics all the way
We were pretty pleased with the ergonomics of the LG Prada phone both in terms of the hardware and in terms of the software. The handset fits great in your hand and the weight and form factor add for a really nice user experience.
The Capacitive Touch Screen Technology utilized in the creation of the LG Prada touchscreen display makes use of a glass panel with a capacitive (charge storing) material coating. When you touch the display the change in frequency allows the circuits situated in the corners to calculate the coordinates of your touch and thus the controller "knows" exactly what item you've touched on the screen.
The positives are that you get a durable touchscreen panel that is not affected by accumulated dirt and liquids plus the added benefit of high image clarity. Unfortunately, you have to use your fingers only; the screen cannot react to the touch of a stylus. But that provides for a nice "hands-on" experience.
When we tested the LG Prada in bright sunlight the display remained visible with almost no negative impact on usability. However, when it comes to performance under direct sunlight, we've seen much better displays by Nokia, which according to us leads the way in that respect.
In the dark the display performed great and we were more than happy with the adjustable brightness levels that allowed for comfortable experience in the dark. Two of the three control keys have backlighting of their own, but it stays on for much shorter time than the one of the display.
Well, using the Prada phone as a regular calling handset proved easy enough. We are pretty comfortable with it making and receiving calls. The sound during conversations is nice and clear and we had no problem with the network signal either. The only downside to its user friendliness is that the ringer loudspeaker is a bit on the quiet side. You probably won't be able to hear it ringing in a noisy street. The problem is furthermore deepened by the default ringing style - ascending, which means that the handset will gradually reach the preset ringing volume starting from really quiet. That may easily lead to the other calling party hanging up on you before you've even realized that the phone rings.
During calls you don't have to worry about touching some items on the touch sensitive display with your cheek or ear, because the display gets turned off during calls.
User interface: designed to amaze
The user interface of the LG Prada phone is based on Flash technology and is definitely something new to the mobile market. Bear in mind that Flash doesn't mean that there is an underlying OS or something - the LG Prada mobile is not a smartphone.
What we see here is a rather simple menu system - simple, but sophisticated enough to impress. Ergonomics and user-friendliness are at their heights - almost every user, from the simpleton to the tech buff, can learn to operate it with equal ease in a matter of minutes. LG have made a really nice job in designing the user interface system.
User interface, themes
In the top of the standby screen there is info about the battery status, current profile and signal strength. The network carrier's name can be turned off as in most LG phones. Somewhere in the middle of the standby screen there is a floating clock that can be moved around with a finger. The clock can be analogue, digital or even dual clock displaying the time in two selected time zones. A single tap on the clock brings out the Alarms flag which allows you to setup an alarm straight from the standby screen - comfortable enough, we would say.
In the bottom of the screen there is a navigation row of shortcuts. Unfortunately, the available four shortcuts are not user configurable. The first shortcut takes you to the main menu, the second opens the Dial pad for you to dial a number, the third opens the messages submenu and the last one opens the Contacts list.
Now, the main menu consists of four submenus - they are displayed in a column on the right of the screen. They don't have names but the first one contains elements related to making calls, sending messages and browsing the Web. The second one is the Entertainment part which houses the media files, the camera, the FM radio and the games. The third submenu includes organizer applications such as the Calendar, the Calculator, the Unit converter, etc. And finally, the fourth item takes care of all settings.
By default the user interface comes in the well-known black and white theme. In fact it's more of a black, white and grey theme. Although it's really stylish, the theme doesn't take full advantage of the 256K color display as grey grades are not smooth and look more as if the display is monochrome.
|The Capacitive Touch Screen Technology utilized in the creation of the LG Prada touchscreen display makes use of a glass panel with a capacitive (charge storing) material coating. When you touch the display the change in frequency allows the circuits situated in the corners to calculate the coordinates of your touch and thus the controller "knows" exactly what item you've touched on the screen.|
The other three UI themes are another matter entirely - they come full-colored with nice-looking icons. One of them offers a butterfly which flies around the standby screen, while another one visualizes a fish swimming on your display. In either case touching the display in standby mode makes them come to your finger.
You can change the wallpaper on the welcome screen too. The wallpapers that come with the LG Prada are nice and stylish.
We would have liked it if it was possible to navigate through the menu with help of the side volume keys, but obviously LG have decided to make users touch their way around as much as possible. Another thing that we certainly would have welcomed is an additional way to provide feedback to the user on a finger press besides the touch tone. For example a weak vibration on every press would have been great.
A nice little list (or not so little)
The Contacts list offers much the same function as any ordinary phonebook. The contacts capacity is 1000 contacts which is more than enough. The phonebook allows the storing of 4 numbers /mobile, home, office, fax/ and an email. Further on the contact can be included into a caller group or can be assigned a picture and a personal ringtone. You can add a text note to the contact, too.
Search is performed through gradual typing of a name's characters.
The phone has several preinstalled caller groups which can be customized. Besides a dedicated ringtone, each caller group has its icon but it doesn't appear in front of the respective members' names in the contacts list, as it did in all previous LG models. That really makes the icons thing pointless.
Unfortunately, the Contact lists shows phone and SIM contacts together in one list which may mean that you have to delete all duplicating names. Not a very thoughtful solution by LG.