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Review GSM phone LG T5100
LG announced T5100 even in March at CeBIT 2004 but didn't manage to manufacture a device with stable software by the summer. Despite a started advertising company and invested into the promotion money the release was postponed to an uncertain time. As a result the model appeared in the market only in the middle of October and became the leader of the company.
All the advertising companies stress a 1.3 magepixel camera that is a peculiarity of the phone. The majority of the devices equipped with a megapixel camera does differ in greater size from usual phones and T5100 is not an exception. The dimensions are not comfortable for carrying the phone in a pocket of a shirt (103x48x26 mm) thought it's easy to put in a jacket. The weight is also more than average (110 grams).
The designers made their best to make the device look like a digital phone and the concept resembles Sony Ericsson S700 in some kind. And while one of the sides in S700 is designed similar to a digital camera, T5100 has a special transformation. Its external cover is rotary like in LG G7100 that's enough to open the clamshell and turn the upper part to the internal screen became an external one. The device is maximum close to a digital camera in this mode and even plastic covers on the front part copy design elements of a usual digital camera.
The camera is on a rotary part of the device and it is directed at you in a standard mode and from you in an alternative one. A flash may be seen near the camera, it's not impact and serves as a lamp in some way. The camera has no any protective cover but considering the fact it is sank into the body no any problems with scratches might appear.
The front panel is of glossy ivory plastic. Side surfaces are traditionally silvery. The back panel is of blue dull plastic. The contrast is impressing but nice.
A small screen may be seen on the external surface of the phone, it displays information about the calls, headbands, time and other. The presence of two displays in the phone is its advantage. Not everybody will be pleased with the necessity to turn the upper part pf the device to use the internal screen as the outer one.
The quality of the external 65K screen is rather good (96x96 pixels, 20x20 mm), the picture looks vivid and bright. The screen fades in the sun but information is readable.
Despite its great size the phone is easy top open with one hand. According to the manufacturer the inner screen shows 262000 colors and the resolution of 176x220 pixels (32x40 mm). This model is one of the best by LG in the quality of the screen and comparable with the models of its generation. The only drawback is a comparatively big grain when displaying own photos. It's mainly connected with the algorithm of processing the photos but not with the quality of the screen. The picture is a bit inferior to the similar on Sony Ericsson S700 and looks not as smooth. At the same time the settings are so that you are like a washed away with a wave of the color, the brightness and saturation of the screen is maximum. The TFT screen fades in the sun but the picture may be made out.
The dimensions of the phone allowed to make the buttons large and provide a terrace like disposition of the buttons. No any problems appear when working with a keypad, everything is comfortable enough. The backlighting is blue and not even, the central row of buttons is lighted worse. A navi button has an integrated OK one and it's an ideal disposition for navigating along the menu.
There is a coupled volume button on the left-side surface and a charger or a cable for synchronization connector a bit lower.
There is an IrDA gap on the right-side surface (it's cut in functionality and may be used only with software) and a headset connector covered with a rubber shutter is also here. A camera and Menu access buttons are in a separate block; the last one is used when working with a camera.
The blue panel hides a battery module, the cover has a firm fixing and no any backlash. The battery is 950 mAh Li-Ion. According to the manufacturer it is capable of working for 250 hours in the standby mode and up to 3 hours in the talk mode. In Moscow the device worked about 3 days in case of 40 minutes of talks and 20 minutes of using other functions. The device may work for about 2 days if used more actively. That's important to stress that when the device is in a camera mode the screen has a minimal backlighting level. The working time is about 20 percent less in this mode. The outer screen is turned off in the standby mode and standard position. The backlighting is activated by a call or pressing a side button.
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 same may be told about F2100 and G5600). 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. There is an access for most frequantly used functions (profiles, messages) via navigaitonal lines. Also it is possible to choose up to 9 functions for a personal list that is called by moving the navi button down.
There is a first time that menu fonts may be changed, the second type is rather playful and is called informal. The letters are not as strict and not put in one line.
Phone book. There is a possibility to save up to 255 names in the internal memory, up to 5 fields for a name (3 numbers, one e-mail address and a note). Also you may choose a users' group and an photo. During the call a chosen photo will be displayed besides a name on the screen. In difference to other models there is no a possibility to choose a picture only a photo from the gallery may be assigned to a name.
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. Up to 1400 KB are reserved for MMS.
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 20 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.
The alarm clock is one but may be set for various repetition. An alarm signal may be chosen.
Notes - small text notes, no any peculiar functions and applications.
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.
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.
Multimedia . A folder with Java games is in this menu, there are none of them in the phone though. Only 350 KB are reserved for Java applications and that is a serious limitation.
The item Games contains a single game - Pocket Athlete. You may choose running, shooting, archery and compete with the phone. The game is interesting but the thing it's the only really disappoints.
MP3 player. This is a too high-flown name because there is no memory cards connector in the phone and only 27 MB of memory are available to a user. That is about 20 minutes of music in a normal quality and also space for photos and video is necessary. Thus you may forget about the mp3 player.
Camera. The most comfortable way of shooting is to turn the internal display to the outside and use external keys. All the settings may be adjusted with their help, except for the flash. Brightness should be stressed as an adjustable parameter (from -2 to +2 and also there is a night mode). White balance for various situations. The resolutions available are QVGA, VGA, SXGA. Landscape shooting is also possible (three types of compression quality). Colour mode is a possibility to choose this or that effect of 5 preset. The device supports multishooting with QVGA resolution. In general the setting are all pointed out and only a digital zoom function should be mentioned.
The screen serves as a viewfinder in the shooting mode. The same informtion as on the large screen is displayed on it.
All the photos may be viewed in a gallery in order. There are no any extra functions except for the slideshow. Video clips may be accessed from a separate menu.
The quality of the picture is average and may be compared with Siemens S65, the colors are not always correct and noises appear in the dark. As for me, the camera is really inferior to the ones in Sony Ericsson, Sharp.
Video is recorded in 3GP format and the picture looks well on the screen. The zoom function doesn't work in the video mode.
Evaluating the comfort of using the camera we may say it's average and many functions are realized not the best way and many other are absent at all (zoom while recording video).
Synchronization with PC. A USB cable for synchronization is included into the package though the speed of data transmission is not high. Thus mp3 file about 5 MB in size is sent for 3.5 minutes. Software allows working with the phone book, messages, organizer and edit images. The advantage is that all the files may be downloaded to a PC at once, just select necessary ones. But a reverse operation is impossible and you'll have to upload the files one after another. I may definitely note that the quality of the software got much better and the model is really better thought out than previous ones.
The model rouses no any cavils as for the quality of connection. The device works well, the sound is clear and without noises. A possibility to speak on the phone both in a standard mode and in the camera mode is an advantage. The volume of 40-tones polyphonic call signal is enough in the majority of cases, the device is loud and heard well. The quality is inferior to the one of 32-tones polyphony in other phones by the company and is certainly beaten by 64-tones one. Despite a support for mp3 the function remains a thing in itself for the device. You can't set an mp3 file as a call signal and there is the only possibility to listen to it using an integrated speaker phone or earphones. A headset is rather interesting in the phone, it consists of two parts. They are a standard phone connector and a block with an answer button. And here on this block a standard connector for earphones may be seen. That is a very wise solution for an mp3 player. In future it will be right for a model with a normal mp3 player.
Let's evaluate the things left. The megapixel camera average in quality that should be expected nothing from. Other functions are on a typical for LG level and big size of the internal memory is a plus. Well quality of the screens, not well thought over control of the camera. Big size of the device may be considered a disadvantage but they are typical for this segment. The absence of memory cards and some other functions that are present in the phone of a similar form factor Sony Ericsson S700 may be complained of. But the thing that even now T5100 costs $450. This price is close to the minimal for a device with a megapixel camera.
The audience consists only of men because of the dimensions. That's impossible to call the model unsuccessful though is can't come as a right solution for many because of some parameters. The device should be considered as an announcement, an intermediate model in a product line. The next device will certainly be equipped with more memory and have less size. The sales forecast for the model is similar to the one for LG G7100 for the moment of its appearance. This is not a mass product because of some reasons also including a price segment it belongs to.
We are grateful to Alt Telecom for the provided device.
Published 15 December 2004
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