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Review GSM phone LG F2100
Now customers try to guess what the letters in the names of the new product lines by LG mean and what the deep sense is hidden in them. I suppose that F-series is named after Fashion. There are fashion phones that suit the category perfectly. The company considers the presence of 3D stereo sound reproduced by two loudspeakers a unique function. In difference to Motorola E398 where the loudspeakers are hard to miss because of their size here everything is not as plain. There is a couple of gaps on each sides of the external surface. The distance between them is about two cm and that's evidently too little for volumetrical sound. Really, the sound the company calls volumetrical is hard to call this way. Stereo samples included into a standard delivery have a sound level set too high and obviously channeling. That's curious the manufacturer has not just converted the melodies into MMF format but prepared it especially for the device. The reason is in marketing terms as usual. A usual melody has a stereo sounding but you won't hear it on the device. The possibilities of the loudspeakers are too poor, they are distanced too little. That's why some way out is necessary, the prepared melodies do alternate channels when the volume is maximum, that means interleaving is committed with a small interval. On the contrary other melodies use both channels changing volume in one of them for creating this or that effect. Volumetrical sound in F2100 is achieved only for effects and in all other cases it may be heard only with the device close to your head.
The volume of 64-tones polyphonic signal is comparable with other models by LG. At the same time if setting a stereo melody the volume will be lower and you may miss a call. The reason is the loudspeakers working separately (they alternate) provide less volume than a standard one. The function seems to suit the marketing department more than an ultimate consumer. As for me, speaking about any well sounding is impossible; this is a usual signal and not more. The absence of mp3 support and a great number of specially prepared melodies make the function extra but not a main one.
The design is similar to the one of the last models by LG - front panel is of dark blue plastic and the rest of the body is silvery. The device has the dimensions of 90x47x23 and the weight of 90 grams. It is average in size and will suit the majority of users. A VGA-camera gap may be seen on the front panel and a flash is also here under the screen.
The outer screen is 65K TFT and has the resolution of 96x96 pixels. The display is good, vivid and though it fades in the sun information still may be read from it. An outer screen of the same level as the best today screens may be considered an innovation. A personal screen saver of four preset pictures may be set for it. The brightness of the outer screen is limited and not maximum due to the energysaving purposes. In some kind the vivacity of the screen is lost but it is still good for this type of the screen.
A coupled volume button is on the left-side surface and a headset connector, camera button and an IrDA gap are on the opposite side. With the help of the camera button you may not only activate shooting in a closed mode but also choose a slide-show mode from the menu and your photos will be shown one after another. The third function is turning the flash on in a light mode and it will keep working until you turn it off.
There is not only a standard interface connector on the bottom end but a service indicator also. A strap hole is on the top of the phone.
The device is possible to open with one hand but not so easy; maybe two side hollows are the reasons. Inside we can see a large screen that is 262K according to the manufacturer. Straight comparison with LG L1100, G5600 revealed it is inferior in the quality of the picture. The first thought was the company can't keep similar deliveries of similar screens for different models but that's not right. The device really supports 262K technologically but the software doesn't.
Let's remember the manufacturers growing the number of call signal tones, then LG announced 40-tones polyphony in one of its models though it was only 16-toens. Advertising materials were changed in a hurry then and old notes were crossed over on the boxes. The 40-tones polyphony was impossible to realize without a hardware synthesizer but even having delivered the necessary hardware they had to compose melodies for the signal. Old 16-tones melodies used gave no any better sounding and only higher volume.
And almost the same concerns an inner screen. The software is set for working with 65K colors. The picture is too sharp due to this fact and that makes the felling of a worse screen. Artifacts of separate pixels reveal instead of smooth blends. The manufacturer evidently forgot that not only hardware but also software should be thought of. By the way, the display differs in nothing from the previous models and thus the words about the number of colors should be considered one more marketing turn.
The resolution of the screen is 128x160 pixels and that allows showing up to 7 text and one service line (in SMS mode).
The keypad is made of plastic and the terrace like placed keys are rather comfortable. The OK button is integrated into a navi button. The backlighting is blue and seen well in various conditions.
A 800mAh Li-Ion battery serves as a back cover of the device. According to the manufacturer it works for up to 200 hours in the standby mode and up to 3 hours in the talk mode. In Moscow the phone worked for a bit more than 3 days (50 minutes of talks in general and up to 20 minutes of using other functions). Speaking about 15 minutes without using other functions will provide about 5 days of work. Full recharging takes about 2 hours.
Technologically the device was no changed at all as compared to G5600. The manufacturer finally increased the internal memory size and thus it got 5 MB here.
The main menu is represented by three rows of icons and all of them are different to previous models, this is a renewed style of the menu. The pictures are qualitative and look good that makes the device pleasant to use. Submenus look like lists and the items that may not be disposed on the screen are scrolled automatically in a horizontal line. There is a fast navigation with the help of digital series. Also it is possible to choose up to 9 functions for a personal list that is called by moving the navi button down.
Phone book. There is a possibility to save up to 200 names in internal memory, up to 5 fields for a name (4 numbers, one e-mail address). Also you may choose a users' group and an icon. The icons are preset pictures of people faces and animals. During the call a chosen picture will be displayed besides a name on the screen. There is a possibility to assign a photo to a name but it should be saved in a minimal size first.
When entering your data you'll have to choose the main number and only then add others one after another, by the way, some of them may be missed. The total list may contain both numbers from SIM-card memory and from the internal one. Also an assigned picture may be displayed opposite to a name.
There are 7 users' groups and it is possible to set a personal melody and a picture for each one (that is another set of pictures).
Messages. There is a support for EMS that allows to attach melodies, pictures to messages, format text and send concatenated messages. The phone supports predictive text input T9 (a possibility to add your words into the dictionary). There are several dictionaries for different languages and up to 6 editable templates.
The device supports MMS and the company made it possible to format several pages, insert several pictures instead of one.
All the messages are stored in the internal memory, first SIM-card memory is filled with SMS and only then the internal one is used. In general it is comfortable to work with messages, the device is up-to-date.
Call lists. Here one may view standard lists of outgoing, incoming and missed calls. Each one contains 10 numbers, for some entries date and time of the call are specified. Similar numbers are summed up but not displayed in order.
There is a general call list, 20 last entries from all the lists are summed up there. And it is this list that is displayed when pressing the Call button from the standby mode.
Profiles. All the sounds may be adjusted from here, from a call signal to a key press sound and alert type. Everything is traditional.
Settings. Phone settings such as the screen, call signals and what is the main alarm clocks are adjusted from this menu. There are 5 of them in the phone and each may be set for once, everyday and every week. The presence of such a number of alarm clocks will satisfy even the most demanding user.
Organizer. It is possible to save up to 20 events in the organizer and a date and time for the alert are set. You also may set it recurrent (every day, week, month, year). Calendar displays the whole month, the dates with set events are distinguished with another colour and a sign indicating the type of the event (meeting or a memo) appears in the bottom. The main minus of the organizer is a limited number of entries.
Tools. Here is a standard calculator, a unit converter, world time function and a dictaphone (works only in the standby mode with up to 19 seconds for a record). A general memory status may be viewed from this menu.
Downloads. Downloaded images, melodies and programs are stored in separate folders. All the folders in a new phone are empty.
Service. The device supports GPRS class 10 that is why I'd recommend to adjust wap-browser using batch communications, that will be cheaper. The only thing to add is that the wap-browser is 2.0 version. The thing that disappointed is the absence of history, it is often necessary to enter the same address again. Downloading melodies and pictures makes no troubles and the same for applications.
Camera. An integrated camera allows to take photos with several resolutions, they are 48x48 pixels (used only in the phone book), 160x120, 320x240, 640x480 pixels. File format is JPEG, it is possible to choose a compression level and quality (high, medium, low) for all the resolutions except the maximum one. The quality for 640x480 is only low.
The screen serves as a viewfinder in the shooting mode. There is a tool panel on the left and there you may choose the main parameters for shooting, it is particularly comfortable to do that using a side button for volume level adjustment. Not all the chosen settings are saved till the next shooting, one has to adjust them again and it is a slight disadvantage.
The photos may be black and white, colour and also Sepia effect may be applied. There are 5 light levels and x4 zoom.
One of the preset frames may be used when shooting, that is, for instance, combining a friend's face with a body of a pretty girl or a body-builder.
In general the photos are not bad. And by the way there is a possibility to view photos as icons and having chosen one you may see it in a full screen size.
The photos taken may be used as wall papers for the internal screen. The quality of the pictures on a PC is not so bad but not excellent. The camera by LG is average in characteristics if compared to other manufacturers.
Synchronization with PC. Besides synchronization via a cable the manufacturer provided a wireless one via IrDA. The settings are rather trivial and everything works without troubles. There is a wide range of melodies, pictures for the screen in the standby mode (wallpapers) besides Java programs on the disk.
There is a possibility to synchronize phone book and organizer entries with a PC, there is synchronization with MS Outlook.
We measured the productivity with JBenchmark 2.0.2. And got the following results smilar to the ones for LG G5600:
The total score is rather low that shows not high productivity of the processor and memory subsystem. That is clear that such a productivity is characteristic for the previous generation devices but not current, an old platform tells upon.
The quality of the sound is typical for LG phones and no problems appear in the majority of cases. The volume of the 64-tones call signal is enough not always, it's loud and comparable with other models by the company but the presence of two loudspeakers is not felt. Well assembling quality and various colour solutions that will attract youth should be considered advantages. The external screen is one of the best in the market and the inner is rather well-done also but takes an intermadiate position and is inferior to Motorola, Samsung, Sharp.
Following a bad tradition IrDA may be used only for making a connection with a PC and that is a real minus. It's impossible to make a straight transmission to or from the phone.
Evaluating the functionality of the device I find it hard to name its main advantages compared to the phones of this class, they are not as evident. The popularity of the brand name is lower than of Samsung or Nokia, the functionality is on the same level or even less but the price is higher. They try to keep the sales of the model with 25 per cent higher price with the two marketing announcements about the volumetrical sound and 262K screen. The device is expensive with the price of 300 USD and doesn't seem a good buying. The device is pleasant in some kind but not more, it's a typical middle class model.
I'd like to note for those who believe the WOWLG site, the device has never had and will never have Bluetooth technology. The things written on the LG site have nothing to do with the reality. The people maintaining the site think out new technologies, functions and specifications. And if it seemed an unfortunate misunderstanding earlier now it turned into farce after two years.
We are grateful to Alt Telecom for the provided device.
Published 17 December 2004
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