The Viewty Smart comes with the revamped camera interface seen on the updated LG KC910i Renoir and the LG Arena. Access to all the camera settings is via the left taskbar in the viewfinder. There you get virtual buttons for Scene mode, exposure compensation, flash, focus mode (auto/macro) and advanced settings. This left task bar hides automatically (or manually if you set it up) and is brought back as an overlay when you tap on the screen.
The Viewty 2 Advanced settings camera menu is a clever rotating dial (digicam style) with the available options for each setting displayed as a list on the right. The interface is very handy, neat and usable.
There's another bar on the right hand-side of the screen. It offers a virtual shutter key plus exit and gallery buttons. This bar is fixed and is not a overlay of the viewfinder - instead it's permanently laced there to get around the wide aspect ratio of the LG Viewty 2 screen.
Compared to the LG Arena viewfinder interface, there are some new features, while some features such as Touch focus are not available.
The new stuff about the interface is that now there's a way to switch between still camera and camcorder straight from the viewfinder itself using the virtual shutter key. Back on the Arena you had to exit the still camera and only then start the camcorder - weird, we know.
The second new thing is the manual focus that lacked as an option on the LG Arena. Much like on the LG Renoir, it's operated by dragging a virtual slider on screen.
Then there's the auto rotation of the interface itself. Thanks to the accelerometer, you can have it in either portrait or landscape mode - and it's all automatic. But it only works for the still camera interface, the camcorder one does not rotate.
And finally, there's the new Intelligent shot mode, which picks the best scene preset according to the shooting conditions and the subject. It's the first time that we see a feature like that implemented on a mobile phone.
Our beta unit of LG Viewty Smart produces photos with good resolution and correct, pleasant colors. The only complaint we have about the image quality is that the noise reduction routines are not tuned yet and sometimes they just blur the fine details. This of course should be fixed in the final version and we expect the image quality to be at least on par with LG Renoir.
Getting to grips with video recording
The LG GC900 Viewty Smart is capable of capturing video of up to D1 (720x480) resolution at 30 fps. Overall video recording quality is average. The level of detail could have been much better, it looks like the allocated bitrate is insufficient - we could live with bigger video files, if this means less compression artifacts.
The outdated 3GP video format used both by the LG Arena and the Viewty Smart didn't earn our appreciation either. The LG Renoir, for instance, used the superior AVI file format with DivX encoding.
Slow-motion QVGA clips shot at 120 fps can also be captured by the LG Viewty 2 and the device also offers time-lapse videos (otherwise known as Fast videos).
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.
The Viewty Smart has a gorgeous display and a best-of-class user interface. But we've already seen that stuff on the LG Arena so our brief experience with the Viewty was hardly a revelation.
Instead of bringing any revolutionary upgrades, the LG Viewty Smart is there to simply expand the LG S-class portfolio in a camera-centric direction. The LG Arena has quite a nice camera as well, but a 5 megapixel sensor is no longer flagship stuff these days.
Since the LG Viewty Smart retains almost the same compact dimensions as the LG Arena, fitting the bigger camera module, called for a certain downgrade of the other features. In this case, it was obviously the 3.5mm audio jack and the FM transmitter that got axed.
Still, the LG GC900 Viewty Smart certainly has the potential of becoming a bestseller and we really hope to see more of it, once it gets to the final production stage.