The latest in LG’s Cookie jar is the GS290 or Cookie Fresh. It’s designed to offer the younger mobile user all that a mobile phone should without having them break into their savings. But does it deliver on its promises as a budget social networking, multimedia handset? Take a closer look to find out.

Form Factor
The Cookie range of devices, although they may be similar in features, do tend to make funky statements in the looks department. The Fresh is the same. It’s a well designed comfortable to use handset. The 3-inch resistive touchscreen features a 240 x 400 pixel resolution with 256k colors. That makes viewing easy on the eyes and navigating the menus a breeze. A standard micro USB port is placed on the same side as the screen lock and camera button while a microSD card slot (2GB card with preloaded media included) and volume/zoom keys are on the other side.

A 3.5mm handsfree socket is available on the top and the bundled handsfree provided will be more comfortable if used with a set of sponge speaker covers. The Fresh is available in Silver, Orange/white, Purple/white, Blue/light silver color combos.

Features and Performance

The Fresh runs on a Flash based UI that’s pretty standard for LG’s lower end touchscreen handsets. It’s got the look and feel of LG’s proprietary S-Class UI. Like the others the Fresh also has multiple desktops designed to support widgets, LG’s Live Square quick access desktop for frequently used contacts and a third for Contact favorites. On the whole the UI is easy to navigate but it’s a bit sluggish. A QWERTY keypad can be accessed by a keypad switching option as this piece didn’t have an accelerometer function.

A fair amount of Multitasking can be done without the UI speed slowing down any further. Gesture functionality is very similar to what you’d find in a Samsung device. When the screen is locked you can draw out a character on the screen to access apps that you’ve assigned to that symbol.

The music player is loud and clear enough to enjoy anywhere in the city including inside the local transit system. A few EQ presets have been thrown in to add a little personalization to the option. They help on a little. The FM radio worked out quite well. The Fresh supports MPEG4 video formats but of the lower resolution variety. 3GP videos also played quite smoothly. Other media features include LG’s Muvee Studio application a few games that include Try and Buy demos and an image editor.

The Fresh’s connectivity options include EDGE/GPRS for web access and Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP and USB 2.0 (micro) for data transfer, back up and Stereo wireless audio. The browser is comfortable for viewing and easy to use. The handset is very well equipped for social networking. It comes with a native Facebook application that has its very own desktop widget. LG has also included app for Twitter and links to MySpace, Picasa, Orkut and Flickr. Setting up POP and IMAP email accounts is a simple procedure and LG has also included a Push Email app that makes that job even simpler. A Java based JustCricket App is also on board for the fans. The News Hunt application is well designed and links to all the various online papers in a variety of languages including Hindi, Malayalam, Marathi and Tamil so you can stay up to date.

Misc. Features
From the Organizer/Calendar app to a memo pad, alarm and voice recorder to the Unit Converter, Calculator and other tools, the Fresh has all the basics covered. LG’s Data Wallet security app has also been preloaded. A Hindi to English dictionary has also been included.

The 2MP camera comes with very basic features that include White Balance, exposure, Night mode, timer and continuous shooting upto 9 images. Processing is quick but image quality although quick crisp for a 2MP mobile camera always ended being quite dull. Colors were washed out and outdoor images even when there was plenty of sunlight always looked quite gray.

Indoor pictures, when there was sufficient light available were quite good though.

The average talk time that the Fresh was able to dish out was about 3 hours and 45 minutes. On a single charge with plenty of social networking, calls, messages and music, I got just a little over a day and a half of usage. That’s not too bad.

The Bottom Line
The Cookie Fresh comes with a price tag of Rs. 5,400 (MOP). For that price the Fresh comes off as a real bargain. It goes head to head with some of the Dual SIM budget devices that do offer similar functionality but the LG branding does help make for a better sale. From social networking to multimedia and other handy functions the youthful GS290 is definitely a good option for the money.

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