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Old 08-23-2010, 01:30 PM
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Upcoming prototype WP7 device from LG - quick hands on impression!

Last week I had a rare opportunity to speak with someone (who requested to remain anonymous) that works for a company (also remaining anonymous) that is involved in handset hardware design for some of the upcoming Windows Phone 7 devices.

After asking him tons of questions about the upcoming OS, he agreed to let me take a quick look at a particular LG model.

He wasn't sure what the name of this device will be when released, but maybe some of you guys who are following the announcements can identify it:

It has a slide out keyboard, and what appears to be a front facing camera, implying that this might be a European market model (since most US phones don't have front-facing cameras unless they say "Apple" or "Evo" on them- more on that later).

From what I gathered in my short time with the device:

- 5 Mpix rear camera
I'm fairly certain the rear of the unit said "5 mpix" on it, however it was hard to tell since prototype units don't get the rear faceplate (you kind of have to hold the battery in, or put it down on a surface).

- Slide out QWERTY
It has one. I like that. Unlike devices such as the Moto Droid, the keyboard is wide, nearly the width of the entire device, making the keys spaced-out and easy to use. I didn't like that the numeric keys are part of the top row instead of their own row (guess I'm spoiled by my rhodium), but I suppose I'd rather have larger keys over all since I don't use the number keys as much as the letters.

Here's a quick pic:

- Screen is very responsive and supports multi-touch with pinch zooming
I think we all saw that one coming. Pinch is now ubiquitous with touch screen interfaces. Screen seemed rather bright, but I think it is still LCD (not AMOLED) judging by how the "black" pixels seem to still be lit.

- Device feels like a decent size, not too small
This won't win any thin contests against the Nexus One or iPhone, but I guess that's the price you pay for a slide out KB. I took the back off my Touch Pro 2 and compared them side by side- The LG seems a hair thinner, but otherwise very similar proportions.

- Windows Phone 7 is smooth.
I've actually been rather bitter about MS starting over with a whole new OS dropping support for my 10+ years of current Pocket PC apps, but I can see why they did it now. This OS will appeal to the masses in a way that the current complex Windows Mobile UI can't.
I've played with a Zune HD and been rather impressed with it, and my initial impression of the UI here is similar. Everything seems to be integrated in a way that makes sense... the demo videos we've all seen online don't do it justice. I'll admit, after watching their press event a while back and the demo videos online, it felt kind of cluttered to me. But when you actually try to use it, it really does start to make sense.
While I question how versatile and powerful it will be compared to the open architecture of our current OS (copy/paste, native code, custom UI elements, etc), it clearly has the potential to compete with the other big OS names out there. I could see my friends wielding iPhones being impressed with this. Microsoft really did a bang up job integrating cloud services into the interface, everything from bing to Xbox (which has been up and down as the services are being tested now, I actually didn't get a chance to try anything with that) and social networking.

I did notice one thing that kind of concerned me- the main screen, which I guess is called the "tabs" screen, didn't rotate when I opened the keyboard:

My contact said that there are still bugs being worked out, and that this phone didn't even have the latest version of the software on it yet... in fact, he said it was in some kind of debug mode so he can monitor error logs, so the final product might be a little smoother than the one I played with.

Now, I assume this particular model is the Euro one because of the front facing camera. My contact wasn't sure, and admitted this *could* be a US market phone, but I'm cynical since virtually all Euro 3G handsets have front cameras for video calls, and hardly any US ones do without making a significant deal about it.
Why don't I assume LG plans to make a big deal about this one?
Well, that leads me to my next topic:
I think LG's model here looks pretty entry-level. Its not all that flashy looking compared to other modern handsets, and I don't think this is going to be a big flagship media-coverage launch device. The camera on the back appears to be about 5Mpix (good compared to my Rhodium, but again kind of on the lower standard for upcoming handsets), the keyboard seems adequate as is the screen, however nothing here really seemed amazing. In fact, I think the only remarkable thing about this device is the OS.

That may also explain why I was allowed to see/touch this one, but not the "others". I was told there is also a Samsung device in prototype there, but the security on that one is tighter.

As far as I'm concerned this is a good thing- If they want WP7 to be adopted on a large scale, they need to offer high end devices as well as low end entry level ones. I believe what I saw was a lower end affordable model. But, as always, only time will tell.

I think that about covers it... and I hope I'm not getting anyone in trouble for posting this!
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Last edited by dishe; 08-23-2010 at 01:32 PM.
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