LG KM900 Arena review: A touch of class
Video player does its job
The LG Arena comes with a relatively large touch screen (especially for a device of that size) measuring 3". That, along with the DivX/XviD support turns it into a potentially excellent portable video player. 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, which also persist in the retail version. The only DivX videos we managed to play where those converted through the DivX converter on the supplied CD.
To switch the video player to full screen mode you only need to rotate the phone to landscape position. A tap on the touch screen reveals the onscreen overlay controls. Alongside the standard controls (such as play/pause, volume, etc.) you can also change playing speed to 2x or 4x and to zoom in or out.
Unlike the LG Renoir, the Dolby for Mobile sound enhancement can be turned on during video playback on the LG Arena. Of course, that enhancement is put to best use with headphones.
Online video with no Wi-Fi streaming
The Arena comes with YouTube integration and you can upload videos to YouTube directly from the handset. Bear in mind that the option is available only in the video player and not in the file manager.
Unfortunately, the LG Arena web browser doesn't have Flash support, so watching YouTube videos from the desktop version of the web site is a no-go. The only way to watch your favorite videos is via the mobile version of YouTube.com.
Strange as it may seem, the LG Arena allows you to watch streaming media (of any type) only over the EDGE or UMTS connection, so in essence - you cannot watch the streaming mobile YouTube videos over Wi-Fi. A real bummer, we know. The same strange issue is found on the Prada 2 and the Renoir.
And since a lot of users don't seem aware of this fact, here's a tip for you - to watch streaming videos (such as YouTube) you first need to set up the dedicated streaming settings of the phone to use the same internet profile as your mobile web browser. The place you do that is on Settings row>Connectivity> Streaming settings.
The 5 megapixel camera is good enough to please you all
After our disappointment with the image quality of the camera on the pre-release unit, it's time for some good news. As you already know the LG KM900 Arena takes photos at 2592x1944 pixels and has Schneider-Kreuznach optics.
The pictures taken with it revealed a more than capable camera. The picture quality is good enough and will keep most users happy. The colors on the sample images are very lively and accurate. The automatic ISO is also appropriate and the picture detail is decent enough.
Of course nothing is perfect in life, and so is the case with the Arena's camera. The full-res samples below reveal over-sharpening on some edges, but we don't think that's a big issue. Also there are clear signs of more aggressive noise reduction traces in the shadows or the clear blue sky.
Besides the aggressive noise reduction there is not much else to complain about.
The LED flash - as you have may already guessed - does not help at all. Maybe in some low light conditions it will give you some extra illumination at close range, but it won't guarantee you a great picture and there's likely to be some blurring.
Here are several camera samples to check for yourselves:
The viewfinder is not typical for LG. Access to all the camera settings is via the left taskbar in the viewfinder. There you get virtual buttons for settings, flash, focus mode (auto/macro) and exposure.
This left task bar auto hides and is brought back as an overlay when you tap on the screen. On the right hand-side of the screen is another bar with a virtual shutter key, exit and gallery buttons. It's fixed and is actually not part of the viewfinder - that's the way to get around the wide aspect ratio of the LG Arena screen. The benefit of this is that the Arena doesn't crop part of the scene like the LG Renoir does.
The actual Settings menu is a clever rotating dial with the available options for each setting displayed as a list. The interface is very handy, neat and usable, and geotagging and image stabilization are among the nice extras.
The LG KM900 Arena is capable of capturing video of up to D1 (720x480) resolution at 30 fps. Overall video recording quality in all modes is relatively nice. The level of detail could have been a touch better, but seems sufficient and the colors are lively with an extra notch of saturation added by the camera.
A fact worth mentioning is that in the first seconds of each video recording there are minor issues with duplicated frames that can be perceived as video stutter. The outdated 3GP video format the LG Arena uses also didn't earn our appreciation. The LG Renoir for example used the superior AVI file format with DivX encoding.
Slow-motion QVGA clips shot at 120 fps can also be captured by the LG Arena and the device much like the LG Secret, takes the extra step of adding Fast videos. This is the time-lapse video capture seen in some dedicated digicams.
With the right subjects those shoot modes can be quite fun. Unfortunately, the output videos are still limited to QVGA resolution. The Samsung S8300 UltraTOUCH for example already shoots fast motion videos at VGA resolution with enviable quality. And as we see it, those videos don't require additional processing power than the already existing one.
The flash can be turned on to act as a video light. Quite naturally, you can also record sound with videos, except in the fast/slow-mo modes of course. As we already pointed out, the dedicated video recording microphone is on the back of the phone. Videos are encoded in MP4 but are saved in 3GP format.