LG KM900 Arena preview: First look
Managing contacts is a breeze, so is inputting text
The phone book is quite good has received a redesign and currently seems the best touch-optimized phone book we've seen.
While scrolling the contacts list for instance, a tap on any of the contacts expands a drop-down summary of their contacts details without interfering the browsing in any way. The options for communicating with that particular contact are part of that expanded info and are further scrollable horizontally - quite impressive.
Quite naturally, the LG KM900 Arena offers an onscreen alphanumeric keypad in portrait orientation and a landscape QWERTY thumboard. The QWERTY keys are smallish but each symbol you tap is clearly marked by iPhone-style pop-ups.
Gallery is a real 3D treat
LG Arena offers two gallery modes depending on the handset's orientation. In portrait mode images and videos are displayed in a grid while in landscape mode one image is displayed in the center and two more by its side in an impressive 3D spatial view.
Did somebody say Cover Flow? Yes, the layout is quite similar to the Apple iPhone Cover Flow Album Art browsing, but let us remind you that the iPhone offers that view mode in its iPod music player only.
As the LG KM900 Arena supports multi-touch you can zoom in images with the pinching gesture well known from Apple's iPhone - we really hope that Apple don't have a patent pending on this one or LG are toasted.
Dolby enhanced music playback is just fine
The LG KM900 Arena Music player is accessible both from the Cube interface as well as from the main menu. The homescreen music player is rather basic but it does the job of quick access to the playing music.
The tracks are displayed on a rotating reel and get visualized with their album artwork "printed" on virtual vinyl records.
The full-featured music player sits in the main menu. You can sort tracks by artist, album, genre and your rating. The current track's artwork, name, album and artist are displayed in the screen's center while the next and previous track are visible at the top and bottom of the screen.
Thanks to the built-in accelerometer, when you tilt the phone, the music player automatically switches its orientation from/to landscape mode.
A very useful feature is the Search option. However, if you have applied some sorting such as album view, for instance, you can only search the album names and not the actual tracks.
There are tons of equalizer presets (all non-customizable, though) and among all of them two managed to impress us. The first is the highly advertised Dolby for Mobile sound enhancement.
With Dolby Mobile the sound gets more spacious and richer. Bobcat Mobile was also a really nice preset which is best suited for techno tracks. However with all the presets available we're sure you'd find yourself a favorite one as well.
Surely a nice touch to the LG Arena feature list is the in-built FM transmitter allowing you to stream wirelessly the currently played tracks to any standard FM radio receiver (e.g. car audio or home multimedia system).
The LG Arena comes with a relatively large touch screen (especially for a device of that size) measuring good 3". That, along with the DivX/XviD support turns it into a potentially excellent portable video player - especially considering the good track record. The LG Renoir for example managed to play every desktop XViD/DivX video we threw at it. Unfortunately, we had issues with DivX/XviD support in our pre-production unit, but LG will surely fix that in the retail version.
To switch the video player to full screen mode you only need to tilt the phone to landscape position. A tap on the touch screen reveals the onscreen overlay controls. Except for the standard controls (such as play/pause, volume, etc.) you can also change playing speed and to zoom in or out.
Unlike the LG Renoir, with the LG Arena the Dolby for Mobile sound enhancement can be turned on during video playback. Of course, that enhancement is put to best use with headphones.