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Friday, July 3, 2009

LG KE970 Shine

LG's next release in its "Black Label" series is the Shine. Like the Chocolate, the LG Shine is a slide-design phone, and is very much intended as a fashion statement. Whereas the Chocolate was dark and mysterious, with its hidden touch sensitive keypad, the Shine positively sparkles with light and has a more conventional keypad. The reason for the name "Shine" is that the phone is highly reflective, having a shiny stainless steel body and a large LCD display that turns into a mirror when not in use. It's definitely a cool-looking phone and one that will attract attention. The photo here doesn't do it justice. Be aware though that the metal casing does have a tendency to pick up fingerprints and scratches.

When in use the display lights up, dimming after a few seconds of inactivity. Leave the phone for a little while longer and it miraculously turns into a mirror - an effect that will have you watching with anticipation for at least the first week of ownership! Just be aware that the mirror screen isn't that easy to see in sunlight. Below the screen is a roller with two buttons. These let you navigate around the icons on screen when the phone is closed. It has to be said that the roller isn't the easiest user input method ever invented. LG should have learned their lesson after the problems with the touch-sensitive buttons on the Chocolate! Also on the side of the phone is the MP3 button, which lets you use the phone as a music payer when closed. It's a neat and effective design. Open up the slide and you find a fairly conventional metal keypad. It's not touch-sensitive thankfully, but is almost flat. In practice the keypad poses no difficulties and is similar to the keypad found on Motorola's RAZR series of ultraslim phones. It lights up blue when in use.

In terms of features, the Shine is not lacking. The camera has 2 megapixels and uses a Schneider-Kreuznach lens. Now that 3 or 5 megapixel cameras are available in phones, it's the quality of the optics that dictate picture quality, and the Shine does produce good quality pictures for a phone. The camera is equipped with autofocus, and has an LED light for night-time photography. It also has a video camera. The display is of high quality, being a TFT screen with 262,00 colours and 240 x 320 pixels - virtually the industry standard for high-end phones nowadays. As already mentioned, there's an MP3 player that supports a wide range of file formats: MP3, AAC, AAC+ and AAC++. A stereo headset is supplied, and an optional stereo Bluetooth headset is also available. The LG Shine supports MicroSD memory cards with capacity of up to 2 Gbytes, so there's plenty of storage for music. You could realistically use a phone like this as an iPod replacement. Other features worth noting are Java games, a fast EDGE connection for downloading data, and Flight Mode for using the multimedia functions when not connected to a network. The battery life of the Shine is probably a couple of days in normal use, although the battery indicator doesn't seem to be very reliable.

We like the LG Shine, but it has more than its fair share of issues. It creates a very good first impression, with its metal and mirror looks, and when handling the phone, we get an impression of quality and durability. The stainless steel casing adds to the weight, but the phone is very slim and feels nice in the hand. All of the features that you'd expect from a high-end 2.5G phone are here. However, there are downsides to having a shiny metal phone: it scratches and gets covered in fingerprints, and the mirror screen is difficult to see in sunlight. The roller is simply unnecessary and annoying. The ringtone volume is too low and the reception seems to be worse than average. There have been reports of the Shine shutting down and then refusing to switch back on, but these are quite rare. If this happens to you, try removing the battery and trying again. If this fails, it will have to go back to the shop for a replacement. The Shine looks good, but just like the Chocolate, it's not the most user friendly phone that you can buy. Alternatives worth considering are the LG Chocolate, LG KF510, and Samsung G600.

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