So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
LG GW620 Android smartphone
The LG GW620 Android smartphone is excellent value despite its flaws
- Five-line physical QWERTY keyboard, good value, benefits of the Android platform, DivX support
- Resistive touchscreen, chunky, outdated version of Android, sluggish performance
The LG GW620 won't win any design awards, nor is it offering the latest Android software, but it does represent very good value at this price - provided you are willing to live with its faults.
Price$ 299.00 (AUD)
This is definitely the year of the Android smartphone in Australia. High-end handsets like the HTC Desire have stolen much of the limelight, but budget smartphones like the LG GW620 have kicked off the Android revolution at the lower end of the market. Though its resistive touchscreen and questionable performance are frustrating, the LG GW620 smartphone is excellent value and a great introduction into the world of Android for those on a budget.
The LG GW620 is a slider smartphone with a five-line QWERTY keyboard. The keys are flat and don't offer much travel, but the sheer size and space of the physical keyboard makes typing a comfortable experience. Five lines of keys means numbers aren't shared with letters, making dialling phone numbers quick and easy. The soft blue backlight on the keys is also a highlight for avid night-time texters.
The LG GW620 won't win any design awards, but its build quality is reasonable, especially given its price. The brushed metal finish above the display is a nice touch, but the touch-sensitive buttons below the screen are too easy to accidentally press and the menu key feels awkward to use. The GW620 is quite a chunky smartphone, but the spring-operated slider feels well constructed and the microSD card slot can be accessed without removing the rear battery cover.
LG has opted for a resistive touchscreen on the GW620, most likely to save on manufacturing costs. Predictably, it isn't as responsive as a capacitive screen; it's the weakest aspect of this smartphone. Though most general tasks are fine, more complex gestures (such as holding and dragging widgets and icons) are a hit-and-miss affair and would be easier with a capacitive touchscreen.
The LG GW620 offers all the features and functions of Android, including the Android Market for third-party applications, an excellent notifications taskbar and automatic and seamless synchronisation with Google services. The GW620 is running the outdated 1.5 version of Android though, and LG Australia hasn't specified when it will receive an update to 2.1 or the latest 2.2 version of the operating system. Despite running an older version of Android, the GW620 will automatically synchronise your Google calendar, mail and contacts over the air and offer full access to a range of Google apps and services including Maps, YouTube and Google Talk. Unfortunately, you can't save downloaded apps to the microSD card, and Android remains an inferior multimedia platform when compared to the iPhone. However, there is a wealth of customisable music player applications downloadable from the Android Market.
The LG GW620 often feels sluggish, especially when performing basic tasks such as opening and closing applications. While we aren't expecting blistering speeds on a prepaid phone, we were a little disappointed. A 3.5mm headphone jack and DivX support make the GW620 a reasonable multimedia smartphone, though the display again hinders its performance as a video player. A 3D image and video viewer makes it cool — and quite practical — to browse through your media collection, especially if you have a large library. We were pleasantly surprised at how smooth the scrolling was.
Web browsing on the GW620 isn't as good as it is on many other Android smartphones, largely due to the resistive touchscreen and the outdated Android software. There is no Flash support and no multitouch technology (meaning you can't pinch the screen to zoom in and out), though text is automatically reformatted when using the on-screen zoom keys. Other features of the LG GW620 include a 5-megapixel camera with autofocus and LED flash, a built-in accelerometer, an ambient light sensor, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. LG ships the phone with a 2GB microSD card.
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