Saturday, June 21, 2008

Review: LG KP 115a

The LG KP 115a is a little-known cellphone; I have seen very little information about it posted on the internet. It is a small, low-cost (About $60 US, including activation and a number of minutes on Telcel' s network) cell phone with mp3 ans image viewing support (but no camera). It appears that this cell phone is only available in Mexico; LG has no information about this phone on their web page.

The built in mp3 player is reasonably good; the majority of songs play without problems, but there are noticable glitches with a handful of songs I have encoded from my CD collection using the LAME mp3 encoder. The most annoying glitches are in the song La fuerza del destino by the 1980s Spanish-language group "Mecano" ; no matter what LAME settings I used (noshort, no joint stereo, only joint stereo, etc.), I was unable to make this song play without noticeable glitches and places where the singer sounds like as though she is singing underwater.

The phone also has a FM radio that my friend Sinai is using right now to listen to music. It allows one to listen to music, but (probably because of pressure from the RIAA) doesn't have the ability to record from the radio.

The phone has a basic voice recorder; it can only record to the phone' s memory. Since the phone has very limited memory (measures in kilobytes, not megabytes), it can only record about three minutes of voice. Fortunately, it is possible to move voice records from the internal memory to an external SD memory card.

The built in image viewer is basic; it has problems with large images and it' s best to make images small 128x128 jpeg files for best results, so I took a number of pictures of family and friends and converted them down to be small jpeg files so I can show pictures to my friends.

The KP115a has a slot, in the back under the battery for putting in a MicroSD memory card. Telcel' s official position is that you can' t put a MicroSD card larger than 1gb in this phone. This is incorrect: The phone works fine with 2gb SD cards, as long as they are formatted with FAT16. The directory hierarchy is unusual; music has to be placed in a folder named " Sounds" off of the root directory and pictures in a folder named " Images" off of the root directory. It is possible to have sub directories, but the mp3 player will only add mp3 files in the "/Sounds" folder to playlists. You can play mp3s without using playlists, fortunately, and even have the mp3 player repeat all of the songs in a single folder. To change folders requires user intervention.

There is no USB support for this phone; the only way to upload or download files is to remove the microSD card and put it in your computer. The phone doesn't use standard headphones and it is not possible to buy an adapter for standard headphones in Mexico, although they do seem to exist on the internet. The built in headphones earbuds of questionable value; it is hard to hear songs on a noisy bus unless the song was mastered very loudly (I actually reprocessed my favorite song, Glyder by Jonn Serrie, to be as loud as possible so I can hear it on the bus)

Compared to my old Nokia 6010, the voice quality leaves a lot to be desired. With one family member who lost a lot of their hearing during military service, he could not understand me until I turned on the built in speaker phone and talked as loudly as possible in to the phone' s microphone. Talking to my friend Ivonne on streets or other places with background noise is problematic, requiring me to put the phone up against my ear and to have her sometimes repeat herself for me to understand her. Reception is also more spotty than the reception on my old Nokia.

So, the LG KP 115a is a basic-low cost cell phone with mp3 playback capability. You get what you pay for, basically, but this is a reasonable option for having as a second phone number or as a backup cell phone that can play mp3s on the side. It can be used as a primary cell phone as long as the majority of one's calls are done indoors or other quiet locations, and the people one has conversations with have good hearing.