We loved the 720x480-pixel resolution, 30 frames per second video camera. We took it on a tour of CNET Towers, moving from bright sunlit areas to darker rooms. The results looked clear and the exposure adjusted quickly to lighting changes, but the colours were slightly washed out. Video playback was sharp and smooth on the Arena's 76mm (3-inch) WVGA screen.
Sound and fury
The Arena uses Dolby Mobile, a set of digital audio-processing features that's meant to make your phone's audio output sound less like a monkey playing a kazoo. Dolby says the feature adds 'surround sound' and 'spaciousness' when you're using headphones.
We compared the sound of a lossless WAV file on the Arena to the sound of the same file on the SanDisk Sansa Fuze, one of our favourite dedicated MP3 players, using some beautiful Audio-Technica headphones. We found the Arena produced strong, brassy high frequencies and a more washed-out bass, but the overall sound wasn't unpleasant.
The Arena comes with a built-in FM transmitter, so that you can wirelessly connect it to your car radio, for example. You can also buy a charging cradle that has a TV out for watching your mobile content on a big screen.
The LG Arena KM900 is a scrappy challenger to the iPhone's touchscreen title, but it can't beat the heavyweight when it comes to the secret of its success: usability. We can't fault the Arena's amazing wealth of features, but all those features come at a cost: the user interface sometimes feels slow and the battery life is terrible. Our sample handset didn't even make it through one day of normal use without needing a charge.
If you're looking for a touchscreen phone and you can't live without features such as an FM radio, the Arena is worth a look. But you'll need to be patient to put up with some of its performance issues, like the laggy keypad response.
Edited by Charles Kloet