Software - Continued
What threw us a bit was the user interface, which in all extents is the same as the one on the Prada, except for one small thing; there's a new quick menu which consists of three by three icons which is accessed by sliding your finger to the left or right at the standby screen. This doesn't always give you access to the features you expect. For example, the Games and Apps menu had Google Mail and Google Maps under Games, while the only game on our review unit was under Games and Apps in the main menu. The Games and Apps menu that is accessed from the quick menu is actually called My Games and Apps and is different from the one you access from the main menu system; confusing or what?
While on the subject, the built in game is called Space Commando and it is actually pretty good. It features some decent 3D graphics and it involves you shooting various bad guys by tapping different areas of the screen. The graphics aren't amazing, but better than many other phones. There's also a range of productivity applications such as an organiser, memo, a range of converters and a calculator as well as a web browser. For text input there are a few different options to choose between, although neither is great.
The first and most basic one is standard T9 or keypad input, which is slow and awkward on a touch screen device as you don't get much of a feedback despite the option to have the handset vibrate when you touch a key. The next is handwriting recognition which is available in two different modes, screen or box. The screen mode is pretty much freehand; write and it tries to recognise your words, it works fairly well but there's definitely room for improvement. The box mode gives you two boxes for increased speed and it interprets each letter which makes it quite slow and it throws up random letters from time to time.
Our preferred mode of text entry is the virtual keyboard which flips the phone into landscape mode, and it works rather quite well. The clear button works as backspace and the space bar is located a bit odd at the bottom right hand corner, but it takes only a few seconds to get used to how it all works. The only problem is that LG has somehow missed out the apostrophe key and this has to be inserted as a special character which is a pain when you're typing, especially as they've managed to add easier ways of inserting greek symbols, we kid you not.
One pet hate has to be the way you use the zoom wheel around the camera as the scroll wheel when you're navigating menus. You have to use your left index finger to actually be able to scroll and the natural way would be that pushing the scroll wheel right would take you down in the menus, while pulling it left would make it go up; but alas, LG decided to make it go the opposite direction which feels very strange and 'backwards'. It's also an uncomfortable way of scrolling the menus and you can't access the scroll bar at all, since it doesn't have any real function apart from showing you where in the menu system you are.
It seems like LG has thrown together too many concepts into one device and missed out quite a lot when it comes to usability. This is sadly not uncommon with these kinds of devices, although in all fairness most of these niggles are things you can get used to and maybe you're happy with the things the way they are. But there are a couple of other issues that aren't as easy to forgive.
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