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LG Watch Phone GD910 Review

What Mobile
November 6, 2009

A watch phone, especially one with video calling, was probably the childhood dream of every boy born in the last 40 years.

Watches that can make calls have been made before, many Chinese companies make them and you can find them on eBay. It has also been possible to watch video and look at photographs on others, but the GD910 is a watch that supports 3G and includes video calling.

It’s true Dick Tracy stuff, but is it something worth paying £500 for, or more if Orange ends the ‘introductory offer’ and raises the price to a cool thousand pounds?

Well, the simple answer is no.

But, if you didn’t buy something because it was expensive, there would be no mansions in the country, luxury cars or first class airline tickets.

It’s easy to dismiss the Watch Phone as a joke (surely having one for a few hours is enough to let you live out your fantasy?) and even Orange acknowledges that it isn’t likely to be the only phone used or owned by its wearer.
I am quite certain that the person buying one of these will have a collection of phones and gadgets.

Are you bored yet?

The question is whether the phone will actually be used once the novelty wears off. You also need to get used to charging your watch as often as an ordinary phone. When Fossil teamed up with Sony Ericsson to produce Bluetooth watches, you needed to charge it every week or two, but this needs charging almost daily. Fail to do so, and you’ve also lost your watch.

To save power, the backlight is turned off when not in use. To see what time it is in the dark, you need to press one of the three buttons on the side – the middle one being a clear/back button and the others making and ending a call – as well as acting as a select button.

The screen itself is a capacitive touchscreen one, meaning it operates purely on the touch of a finger, and not with anything else pressing against it. It should have been bigger though (there’s space around the edge of the display) because you need to press the screen quite accurately. If you’re walking down the street at the time, it means you have no choice but to stand still.

The menu structure is simple, and there are many customisation options, from different menu layouts to a selection of clock faces.

Keeping to time

As watches go, you could almost argue that even if you’re not worried much about the phone, it can be used for text messaging, entering memos, as a calculator or showing upcoming appointments.
The problem is Casio and others have offered watches with these features for years (and a lot cheaper).

The front facing camera is designed for video calling, which is a key part of the Watch Phone, but it also works as a normal camera, albiet at VGA resolution. You then need to turn the watch to face your subject and hit an on-screen shutter icon.

For talking to people, LG has shipped the watch with a Bluetooth headset, although you can use the internal speaker if you want. For the sake of everyone around you, please don’t. The speaker isn’t that loud anyway.

Another thing counting against the Watch Phone is its size. It may be small for a 3G phone, but when worn on a wrist it still feels rather bulky. Sony Ericsson has had limited success with its Bluetooth watches, especially in the female market. The GD910 is clearly going to be something for men only, whether intentional or not.

So am I one of the intended customers? Well, everyone who has seen it has first asked why I have one, followed by asking why LG made it. But, nobody has failed to be impressed by a video call made with it, and that’s despite the fact that virtually noone uses video calling. The Watch Phone actually makes video calling seem right.

But, there’s no denying the fact that this is an expensive gadget for a select few who want the ultimate gizmo to show off. Fortunately, the limited production run is likely to ensure you won’t bump into someone else wearing one anytime soon.

 

VERDICT

This isn’t a replacement for an ordinary mobile phone – at least we hope LG doesn’t think that. With a limited production run, and an expensive one at that (£500), it’s hardly going to take the world by storm. As a watch, you need to press a button to turn on the backlight if it’s dark, so there’s a compromise there straight away, but it works well as a phone and has many other features too. These include video calling, which although nobody uses actually feels like it now has a purpose when you’re acting like Dick Tracy. But please use it with the Bluetooth headset…

 

RATING

PERFORMANCE
****-

FEATURES
***--

USABILITY
****-

 

 

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