Thursday, March 22, 2007

First impressions of touch screen interface from LG KE850

Whilst the LG KE850 Prada is super-slim and really does look like a small thin bar of dark Chocolate I was a little skeptical to see how this first-gen consumer touch based user interface phone would behave when used in anger to actually make calls and send texts. Verdict. OK. Click on images for larger view.

It's not fair to compare it to the N95 functionally, but sizewise it's the same form factor roughly height and width size as the N95 but half the thickness. It feels ** very ** nice to hold. Apologies for the rubbish dark photos.

There is a wow factor of touching something and things happening on the screen - more so than pen based touch screen mobile devices. Of course you feel more connected physically to the ui through your finger rather than a stylus. The LG interface is Flash based MMI coupled with the touch screen.

Dragging clock face on the idle screen with your little finger is nice (but functional? - not really). Tap the clock face though and it flips to be able to set the alarm... much more useful. Consider the steps you have to go through with your current mobile phone to set the clock alarm.

The user interface was relatively quick though, touch an icon and the response was surprisingly fast.

Calling is fine using the kepypad. Texting is more difficult and slower, (harder than using a numeric keypad). Surprisingly there is no virtual keyboard option for touch typing (why not ?), you end up having to tap the "3" key 3 times to get an "f" character. Sometimes the touch screen does not always recognise the finger or thumb touch...Scrolling through lists needs some improvements too and does not look as playful as the forthcoming iPhone (with inertia and flickability).

Could you use it with one hand. Yes I could ... but it was not as quick as using a normal mobile keypad. Given a little more time I think a user would speed up in one-handed mode, just a case of practice.

Initial skepticism has been replaced with enthusiasm despite some bugs and issues I expected the LG KE850 to be a lot worse than it actually was.

These types of interfaces open up new multimodal possibilities and importantly you can do the basics that mobiles were invented for (calling and receiving calls).

LG are already working on the next version of this phone, the wrinkles will no doubt be fixed and further improvements on scrolling and entering text...

I'm betting we will see touch-screen devices from Motorola, Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Samsung later this year as they also enter the fray and offer touch screen devices into their portfolios.