Native DivX playback on a mobile sounds tasty to us. Re-encoding downloaded TV shows and movies for handheld players really blows.
The iPhone 3G is set for release in less than a month, making the time between now and then probably the worst time possible for other vendors to be releasing a new consumer mobile. Still, LG is pushing on valiantly with the launch of the KF750 - otherwise known as the Secret - next Tuesday, and it comes bearing a gift for swashbuckling movie pirates by way of native DivX 5 playback.
The Secret is the latest addition to LG's flagship Black Label series, and while we're loath to figure out exactly what's so secretive about it (perhaps that in itself is the secret?), we're glad it doesn't suffer from iCloneitis like so many of the other touchscreen-enabled phones released lately. Plus, it leaves the iPhone in the dust on a few key features, namely a five-megapixel camera with video recording in DivX, a tactile slider keyboard, a replaceable battery (take that Apple!) and the aforementioned ability to play DivX movie files natively.
The 2.4-inch touchscreen and QVGA resolution of the Secret doesn’t hold a candle to the iPhone's 3.5-inch display and healthy 480 x 320 resolution, but at least you won't have to transcode your downloaded movies and TV shows - usually in the DivX or XviD format - to a compatible codec (the iPhone can only play H.264 and MPEG-4 files natively) before loading them onto the Secret. Or do you? We haven't had a chance to get our hands on the Secret yet, but if it's anything like the Viewty (likely as it has the same screen size and display resolution), you'll need to re-encode the files anyway to a lower 400 x 240 resolution using the supplied DivX converter software. Plus, it only supports DivX 5, so videos encoded in the newer DivX 6 codec aren’t compatible.
But the real dealbreaker is potential lack of XviD support. According to GSM Arena
, the Viewty can’t play back XviD files, which make up the majority of movies and TV shows found on Bit Torrent and P2P file sharing networks. If the same limitation applies to LG’s latest mobile, then it’s possible we’ve discovered what the phone’s secret is – that its native DivX playback feature isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Nor would do we consider the Secret as a potential iPhone 3G killer. The first-gen iPhone possibly, but not in its latest incarnation. The Secret isn’t nearly as sexy, and it’s missing headline features like GPS, Wi-Fi, support for third-party applications (not counting the measly selection of Java apps that are compatible with most feature phones) and a decent-sized flash drive – the Secret comes with an anaemic 100MB of internal memory, making expansion with a microSD card (up to 4GB is supported) almost mandatory.
The LG Secret is launching next Tuesday (and will be available shortly after) for a recommended retail price of $899.