How many pixels do you want from the camera on your mobile phone? If you are hooked into the ‘more is better’ way of thinking then perhaps you are barking up the wrong tree. A good digital camera relies on a lot more than just pixel count, and if you want to take high quality pics you have to evaluate a lot of criteria before buying.
Still, camera-phones are upping the ante in order to get your attention. The 8-megapixel LG Renoir offers a bit more than simple snapping. There is autofocus, a Xenon flash, macro mode and an ISO range stretching from 100 to 1600. The mechanical lens cover protects things and you can geotag images.
One neat touch is the ability to take a photo by pressing a button on the earphone cable. Sound like a useless idea? Not really. Imagine you are holding the camera above your head to take a photo: the extra button helps prevent camera-shake. Another goodie is the ability to tap any part of the screen to make that the focal point of a picture. When you remove your digit the picture is snapped.
The controls are easy to get to grips with. The Renoir’s screen is touch sensitive and you tap the screen to bring up a range of tappable icons to change settings. A second screen tap away from the icons turns them all off and turns the full screen, which measures 3-inches across diagonal corners and offers 240 x 400 pixels, into a viewfinder.
None of this matters if photo quality is poor. Indoors and outside photos are good, but even with the Xenon flash, indoor low-light shots can be a challenge. The phone shoots video at 30 frames a second in VGA and 120 frames a second in QVGA resolutions, and there is TV out support so you can share your goodies with others.
Of course there is a lot more here. This is a 3G phone with HSDPA to 7.2Mbps. The large screen is great for viewing data like Web pages, and an accelerometer rotates it as you turn the phone in your hand.
Wi-Fi is built in, as is GPS, and there is about 100MB of internal memory. It is a pity the headset connector is not 3.5mm but a proprietary type, though.
The menu system is easy to use and you can put widgets onto the main screen by dragging them from a menu bar. Some are local to the handset such as the calendar and photo viewer, others get information over the air, such as the weather widget. It is something we’ve seen before, but still we like it.
There are plenty of other applications and features here, and sitting slightly apart from the usual suspects is one called Jogging Buddy that use A-GPS to track distance travelled, monitor time and calculate calories burned.
For all its fancy features the Renoir is a pocket friendly phone measuring 108mm tall, 56mm wide and 14mm thick and weighing 110g.
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