LG Shine (KU970) - Review

LG Shine (KU970) - Review

LG Shine (KU970) - Review
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    When LG unveiled its first Chocolate phone, it was clear the Korean chaebol's new series was targeted at the fashion-conscious crowd. Though user feedback hasn't been all that flattering about the tricky-to-use keys, the Chocolate phenomenon continues to grow, with subsequent models from this lineup riding on the fashion wave.

    Born into the premium Black Label portfolio, the LG Shine KU970, however, goes back to basics with a traditional silver, full-metallic casing and hardware keys on the top lid. It is not to be confused with its twin--the Shine KE970--as the KU970 sports HSDPA connectivity but doesn't come with an expansion memory card slot. The KE970, on the other hand, offers 2.5G EDGE with support for microSD expansion.


    LG Shine (KU970) - DesignThe LG Shine came to us in the same packaging as the first Chocolate, only now it's a gray box instead of black. The first thing that caught our attention was its mirror finish on the top lid. While it isn't 100-percent mirror (we do see some distortions of our reflection), this is as good as it gets. The second thing was that the lid is one giant fingerprint magnet, which isn't a surprise, just annoying that we had to keep cleaning the screen.

    At 13.8mm, the LG Shine KU970 isn't in the running for the title of slimmest handset, nor is it the lightest mobile phone. But in our hands, the 99.8 x 50.6mm slider feels surprisingly solid, partly due to the right amount of weight contributing to the overall sturdiness. The only flaw is the top lid isn't very secure and shakes a little when we slide it open to shut it down. Pushing up the top lid brings the phone's home screen to life and the buttons light up in a cool shade of blue. From here, we used the left/right softkeys and the center rolling bar to navigate the menus. It's a mixed bag with the scroll bar, though.

    LG Shine (KU970) - Keypad
    The bar isn't very responsive and we notice some response lag during scrolling. There isn't an option to adjust the scroll speed and, if there's a long of menu selection, we have to lift our thumb off the bar to keep scrolling. It's also very misleading when it comes to using the softkeys and the left/right buttons flanking the scroll bar because it's hard to know which one matches the screen's options.

    Taking a shine to Motorola's popular RAZR series, the LG KU970 sports a paper-thin, single-piece keypad. While this may not be an issue to RAZR defectors, new users may find themselves on a slight learning curve. A problem with this design is that the top row of buttons, which include the call/end and back keys, are lined too close for comfort to the top lid. Hence, you'll have your thumb pushing against it most of the time.

    LG Shine (KU970) - Back
    LG has done a brilliant job with the design of the camera feature on the back of the KU970. The brushed aluminum surface and the camera element can take on dedicated digital cameras and beat them in terms of style. What the shooter lacks is a protective cover for the lens.


    LG Shine (KU970) - Keypad
    While the design of the LG Shine got us all hyped up, its feature set is a little less exciting. Yes, it is a 3.5G phone with Bluetooth stereo connectivity, but it doesn't have Wi-Fi. We can forgive the lack of built-in wireless LAN but restricting us to only 512MB of internal memory just doesn't sit too well with us. So this is something which you might want to take note of before shelling out the cash. The KU970's sister, the KE970, however, drops 3.5G connectivity for 2.5G and instead offers microSD expansion capabilities.

    LG Shine (KU970) - 2MP Camera
    The KU970 comes with a 2-megapixel camera and you hold the phone sideways like you would with a digital camera. You use the 2.2-inch LCD screen as a viewfinder and, even though it has a glossy finish, the panel performed within our expectations as a viewfinder for the camera but it's not fantastic. There were times when we had to angle the screen or shade it from sunlight so we could see what's on the LCD. The shooter comes with the usual settings you get with a digicam, albeit a stripped-down version. You can select image size/quality, flash, burst modes, white balance, timer, metering and color effects.

    LG Shine (KU970) - Back (Open)
    Oddly enough, zoom is not supported at 1- and 2-megapixel resolutions in still image shooting mode. Performance of the camera is a little shabby. There's a noticeable delay of 3 seconds from the time we hit the shutter until the picture is recorded. In good light, the camera locks focus in under 2 seconds. Image quality at its best is good enough for only 4R prints. A number of our snaps turned out blurred due to the shutter lag and this became more obvious for those taken in darker environments. The camera also tends to expose the highlights and purple fringing is rampant in areas with large contrast. As a 3G and HSDPA mobile device, the KU970 also comes with a front-facing VGA camera for video calls. This Shine is also a decent multimedia player although it's nothing out of the blue. We do, however, like the drag-and-drop user interface when we connect the unit as a mass storage device to our computer. The proprietary port means we have to use the bundled remote, though fortunately it comes with a 3.5mm jack for our favorite earbuds. In addition, the Shine also supports Bluetooth stereo.

    Although the KU970 cannot be considered a smart phone, we're still a little miffed because there's no option for us to synchronize this Shine with Microsoft Outlook (calendar and contacts). Instead, we had to rely on the bundled software to key in the entries or directly on the phone. Even the Nokia Sirocco 8800 Gold, which runs on the basic Series 40 platform, allows us to sync with Outlook to save us the hassle.


    LG Shine (KU970) - Feels good in handWe tested the triband (900/1800/1900MHz) LG Shine KU970 using MobileOne's service in Singapore. Overall, call quality was decent even though there's a slight hollow in the audio. This became more obvious when we switched to using the onboard speaker for video calls, but it won't break the phone. The KU970 isn't the most responsive handset and, like we mentioned earlier, we do notice some response lag during scrolling.

    The phone is rated for up to 2 hours 40 minutes of talktime and slightly more than 11.5 days on standby. On our KU970, the 800mAH Lithium-ion cell managed two days of use before we had to reach for the travel charger.