I saw it coming, it had to happen sometime. The secret is out. No, not the one linking that Bollywood celeb with the sport star - I'm talking about the other secret, folks.
If you're wondering what the secret is, try asking LG (they'll tell you it's a Secret!). Puns aside, the Secret (model KF-750) is LG's third generation Black Label slider phone. Looks have long been the forte for the Black Label series - remember the Chocolate and the Shine? Can the Secret make the move towards a marriage of functionality and looks? Lets find out.
At first glance, it's hard to resist the Secret. Standing at 102.8 x 50.8 x 11.8 mm, the Secret is one of the most compact and slim sliders in the market, and what's even more impressive is the number of features that have been packed in - more on that later. It's got a satisfying and reassuring heft to it, a testament to the high-quality materials used in the construction of the phone. Carbon fiber, faux leather, tempered glass and metal - usually components of high-end sports cars - make their way onto the external facades of the phone.
Design wise, the phone is slick - a flush tempered-glass front with the sole raised silver 'OK' key. Around it is the exotically named Neon Touch navigation pad, which is essentially a touch-sensitive pad with the centered silver OK key acting as a confirmation key. It throws you off a bit at first, as with all new navigation mechanisms - the combination of hardware keys and touch controls to get any activity done is mildly disconcerting, but it helps to have haptic (vibration) feedback on the touchpad. And full marks to LG for listening to feedback about some of their previous models - the Secret has physical send, end and cancel keys.
Slide it open and the Secret reveals the backlit alphanumeric keypad, amply spaced and comfortable for quick messaging. The keys are flat to touch, so blind-touch-typing may not work for most. The slider design allows attention to be drawn to the smooth tempered glass display, which LG claims has greater scratch and impact resistance. The 2.4' QVGA (240x320 pixel) display by itself is excellent, with excellent contrast levels and brightness that can be automatically controlled by the ambient light sensor on its face. Trouble is, as with most glossy displays, the phone is rendered unusable in brightly lit environments.
Turn it around, and you're presented with the Secret's ace - a 5 mega pixel camera with auto focus, sports face detection, AF assist light and LED flash - amazing specs for a phone this slim. Images taken from the phone are excellent, if a little oversaturated. Video impresses as well, and like the Viewty, the Secret can manage VGA videos at 30 fps and slow-motion QVGA at an impressive120 fps, all recorded as DivX AVI files. A nice touch is the addition of Fast videos - time-lapse movies to the rest of us - a possible first for a mobile handset. The inbuilt video editing features are pretty neat as well, should that be something you feel the need to do on a phone.
The user interface of the Secret is all eye-candy, and you use the touchpad as the main option for navigating the menus. Here's the cool (and arguably controversial) part about the user interface
- it's called Touch media and it's enabled by pressing the dedicated key on the right side of the handset. Believe it or not, the Secret has a touch screen display, and this is the only place where you get to use the touch screen. This I do not like. Either make it a touch screen all the way through, or don't. With the lovely hardware you have available, it's a shame this user interface is a half-baked job.
Once you do get past this bit, Touch Media isn't half bad. You get instant access to the music player, picture gallery, document viewer, FM radio and the M-toy application. All these applications are optimized for thumb use, and the photos applications use the inbuilt accelerometer to rotate the display (based on orientation). Behind its serious exterior, the Secret is actually fun phone to use. You'll get what I mean when you play the games, which really use the accelerometer well. One flick of the wrist and you can throw a dart, go fishing or even move a ball around a maze.
On the whole, the Secret is a fun phone to use, and its spec sheet and performance make it stand out as a slider phone. One cant help but wish the touch screen implementation was more complete, but maybe there's a secret to that as well!
• Network Support: GSM 900/ 1800/ 1900/ HSDPA 2100
• Display: TFT touchscreen, 256K colors, 240 x 320 pixels, 2.4 inches with Accelerometer sensor for auto-rotate, Touch-sensitive navigation panel with haptics (vibration feedback), Limited touchscreen functionality
• Memory: microSD (TransFlash), up to 4 GB, 100MB user memory available
• Data: GPRS class 10 (32 - 48 kbps), EDGE (236.8 kbps), HSDPA(3.6 Mbps), Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP, USB 2.0
• Camera: 5 mega pixel, 2592 x 1944 pixels, auto focus, face detection, video (VGA 30fps, QVGA 120fps), flash; secondary video call camera
• Battery: Standard battery, Li-Ion 800 mAh
• Standby/Talk Time: 260 / 4 hours
• Additional Features: Carbon fiber battery cover, Java MIDP 2.0, MP3/WMA/AAC/AAC+ player, MPEG4/DivX(up to 640x480) player, TV-out, FM radio with RDS, Document viewer (txt, pdf, doc, ppt, xls), Motion sensitive games, in-phone video editing
• Dimensions: 102.8 x 50.8 x 11.8 mm
• Weight: 116g
• Rating: 8/10
• Price: US $ 500 (global price) (India release expected soon)
• URL: http://secret.lgmobile.com/
Ever groaned in despair as your cell phone dies and you're nowhere near an electrical point? IOGear's new GearJuice Rescue charger – this is your cue. Barely large enough to fit a standard AA battery within its sleek shell, it's got a mini-USB plug to charge any compatible phone, MP3 player or camera. Your results may vary – but it'll give you anywhere between 10-20 minutes of talk time. Enough to call home and let people know you're out of juice. A must have for any serious gabbers' travel kit.
• URL: http://www.iogear.com/product/GMP3001/
• Price: $11.99
Perfect for the pocket
If you're a fan of the Eee PC, you're going to love the brand extension Asus has pulled off with the Eee box. Running on a 1.6GHz Atom processor, you can choose either Windows XP or Linux as your OS of choice, both of which are delightfully cheap: $269 for the base 1GB RAM, 80GB storage Linux model, $299 for XP. If that's not enough for you, memory and storage are configurable, all the way upto 2GB, and 250GB, respectively. Wifi 802.11n is standard, and it has a pleasant number of ports, and is diminutive enough to fit just about anywhere, including your wallet.
• URL: http://www.asus.com
• Price: $269 1GB memory + 80GB HDD Linux edition, $299 1GB memory + 80GB HDD XP edition, $299 2GB memory + 160GB HDD Linux edition