We had no trouble transferring video to our YouTube account using the built-in uploader, but syncing to our PC over USB was a different story -- and one with an unhappy ending. LG's PC Suite III is confusing to use, due to poorly-translated messages, and it's inflexible, too -- it wouldn't let us define where we wanted videos to be put on our PC, for example.
We could only sync our media in one direction at a time, and we had to change our settings to go the other way. Our test videos made it onto the phone with no trouble, but the files didn't get converted automatically, so we ended up with an MP4 file on the phone that we couldn't watch. But we were happy to see that the Viewty Smart supports the DivX and Xvid file formats, which are popular among downloaders.
The Viewty Smart also has Dolby Mobile, a set of digital audio-processing features that aims to make your phone's audio output sound less like a distant nest of hornets. Dolby says the feature adds 'surround sound' and 'spaciousness' when you're using headphones. But there's no standard headphone jack on this mid-range phone, so you'll have to use the included headphone adaptor to get the most out of it.
The Viewty Smart features LG's S-Class user interface. This phone wisely does away with the pointless spinning cube, with its own dedicated button, that we saw on the LG Arena KM900. Instead, there's just one long button across the bottom that kicks you out onto the home screen. From there, you can swipe your finger across the display to access the four home screens and their shortcuts for things like your favourite contacts. You can also tap the menu icon to see all of the options laid out in rows, iPhone-style.
The user interface isn't as fast as the iPhone's, but it's quick enough to avoid being frustrating. One gigantic exception is the on-screen keyboard, which is far too slow. When you only have a soft keypad to make a call or write a text, any delay between tapping the letter and it appearing on the screen can be frustrating and lead to errors galore.
As we found with the Arena, there's a slight delay between pressing the keys and the letters appearing, both with the alphanumeric keypad in portrait orientation, and the Qwerty keypad in landscape mode. Also, any keys that we tapped during the lag didn't register, so we frequently missed letters out, rendering our messages nonsensical. The T9 predictive text didn't help us when we hit a nearby letter accidentally, unlike with the HTC Magic, and we didn't find an easy way to reject its over-complicated suggestions.
We found typing on the Viewty Smart irritating, and had to turn off the predictive text and rely on standard tapping. We wouldn't recommend the Viewty Smart to experienced texters with lightning-fast thumbs.
Smooth surfing but
The Viewty Smart's Web browser does a good job of rendering complex Web pages like those of our favourite site, CNET UK. Although the 76mm (3-inch) screen feels slightly smaller than the display of some other phones because of its big bezel, tiny text is still readable thanks to the WVGA (480x800-pixel) resolution.
The Viewty Smart has multitouch zoom capability, so you can zoom into a page by pinching your fingers together, but we found it sluggish. There's a delay of about a second between the pinch and the response. As a result, we couldn't see our zooming in real-time, making it hard to be accurate.
Despite its 8 megapixels, the LG Viewty Smart GC900 won't be replacing your compact camera anytime soon. Photo positives like good colour reproduction and a pleasant camera user interface are outweighed by shutter lag and noisy dark areas, and the video didn't impress us much either. Making calls is painless thanks to a snappy dialling pad, but we struggled to send text messages and emails because of the unresponsive on-screen keyboard and poor predictive text.
Touchscreens have evolved a great deal since the much-loved LG Viewty KU990 -- look at the Samsung Tocco Lite, for example, which manages to make a resistive touchscreen feel fun, and is free on a £12-per-month contract -- so the Viewty Smart has plenty of competition. It's not without its strengths, but we can't help feeling it languishes in the land of mediocrity.
Edited by Charles Kloet