REVIEW: LG KS 360
By Atul Satpute.
Few phones have endeared themselves as much to us in recent times as the KS 360 has. For its design, ingenuity and great screen, it does deserve a lot of kudos. Unfortunately, skimping on the processor for such a loaded phone does cost it speed.
Slider phones are nothing new. But a slider that is horizontal and not vertical is always interesting. I-mate had a similar model that had a good run and not since that Windows Mobile device have we been as impressed with a phone of this form factor.
Solid and well built, despite its additional layer of the keyboard, the phone never feels bulky or ungainly. What’s more, the slider operates effortlessly and switches the screen layout to landscape almost instantly.
The top of the phone has a large 2.4-inch screen that also functions as touch-screen for select purposes: finding contacts, dialing numbers and well, that’s it! This is where the phone misses a physical keypad on the front. Searching through numbers can prove to be a painful task. You’re best served doing this through the main keyboard.
The top panel also offers a four-way navigation key cluster. The keys are a bit hard initially, but with enough use, they can offer good tactile feedback. The build of these did leave something to be desired, though. Rubbery and placsticky at the same time, they aren’t the most user-friendly.
There are an additional six keys that let you access the menu, make and cut calls, activate the touch screen keypad and delete text or numbers entered on the screen.
Coming to the main QWERTY keypad, this is where the phone leaps into another realm. Great tactile feedback, build quality and feature set means that you will rarely want to use the set of keys on the front. Also well marked is the navigation key set that is activated in combination with the Fn key. Not very easy, but it does look like there wasn’t much choice about this.
At 116 gms, this is a light phone with a power-packed design set that makes you want to use it. In fact, the phone wouldn’t look out of place alongside many of the more expensive Windows Mobile or Symbian smartphones.
Honestly, we weren’t sure what to expect from an LG phone. They’ve always looked great, but we have had cause to complain in the past. And not without reason.
The KS360, though, surprised us. The UI was incredibly easy to master and almost made Nokia look bad. The excessive use of colors for the various icons was the one put off we had, but that’s more to do with personal taste.
The amount of customization possible in the phone is also impressive. There are still a lot of phones out there that won’t let you change the default font, for example. Or the size. The KS 360 lets you do both. It employs a powerful and clear speakerphone. The antenna is a strong one… the phone was easily able to capture a signal even in basements!
Usability-wise, the QWERTY keypad is excellent and easy to operate, the buttons are well spaced, clearly labeled, backlit and - while they can feel a little stiff initially. Flying over the keyboard will take a while, but it’s not that difficult. Smart integration of a lockable Fn key also means numbers are easily accessed and the four-way arrow keys allow for easy navigation and editing of text.
In addition, smartly thought out softkeys in the top left and right corners of the keyboard mean navigating the various menus quickly and with less effort. In short, if you are buying this phone primarily for its keyboard and messaging ability, you won’t be disappointed.
While all these are impressive aspects, the thing that is disappointing is the 22 MB phone memory, which is very small even if there is the inclusion of a microSD expansion slot with support of up to 4GB.
We believe that this lack of memory slows down the phone no end since you do define the memory card as the default storage destination.
Connectivity on the KS360 is well sorted with Bluetooth V2.0 that is responsive making the transfer of data fast and easy but the major problem is one of data or the music is stored in the phone memory and then it needs to be shifted to the external memory so 22 MB will always cerate a problem
As for the camera, it is fixed focus but its two-megapixel shots are certainly above average and decent quality images can be produced in fair lighting conditions. It does miss autofocus and digital zoom badly, though. Video recording is also available on the KS360 for up to 4.30 minutes at about 320×240.
One thing that was a little disappointing was the MP3 player. It’s not totally bad, and the audio is pretty good even outdoors, but for a serious music lover, it may come up short even as a back-up music device. The headphones certainly don’t add to the phone’s good list with a very low-quality feel – looks-wise and audio-wise!
Internet browsing is fast in general using GPRS but the page display doesn’t offer the full-web feel that one gets on an iPhone or even the Windows Mobile phones. Perhaps the addition of Opera may help?
This is one aspect that all major manufacturers need to look at. The user manual. Why not make it simple? Why not give step-by-step instructions? For instance, there are little or no instructions about PC suite for first time users. And you will require the latest version of WMP for transferring music.
• Shortcut key to new massage window.
• Shortcut bar on the screen
• Different languages setting including Hindi
• Flight mode option
• Moving display wallpaper and themes
• world clock
• FM Radio
We don’t like:
• The games in the phone are not that impressive, infact very boring.
• Lack of documentation
• Low internal memory
• No autofocus for camera
In short, the LG KS 360 is a good trendy phone with all the necessary features. There is, however, a bit of an identity crisis: it is neither a full-fledged business phone (which the keyboard can allow it to be) nor is it a full-fledged entertainment phone (the poor music players prevents it) It isn’t a great phone for gamers either (the hardware is built to support) since games provided are very boring!
Priced at about Rs 11,500, it is a fair ask for the features it offers. It can move faster if the price were brought down to about Rs 9,000, though!
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