Fondling Glass with LG’s See-Through GD900

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There’s probably no bigger gimmick in cell-phone design than the see-through keypad LG pulled out of its hat with the GD900. But we love it still.

After examining it behind glass at MWC back in February, and poring over press shots, we finally got a chance to handle it in person at CTIA, and the feel of the phone very much lives up to what you would expect: It’s half handset, half art. The glass keypad slides out effortless on a smooth set of hinges, and lights up brilliantly at the first touch. Though you can see the LEDs illuminating the panel around the edges of the glass, they actually lend their own futuristic touch, looking something like a wire of light seated in steel.

The vaunted gesture capabilities that LG originally bragged about weren’t exactly up to speed on the model we handled. It only recognized a finger wagging back and forth as “back.” But it recognized it consistently, and we were especially impressed with the vibrating trill it delivered as haptic feedback. We can see this functionality becoming a boon for shortcuts if and when LG perfects it for other tasks.

Though LG also had it configured to work as a cursor for the integrated Web browser and other features, we were less impressed with this ability. The hard glass surface grabs your fingertip a little more than expected, making it difficult to translate little swipes and motions into smooth or accurate cursor motion the same way you would with a matte-finish track pad.

Even still, we hope LG finds a way to get this phone stateside, since right now it’s only scheduled for release in Europe and Asia. If it does, though, be prepared for sticker shock: one company rep said it would likely outprice the Arena, which is supposed to be the company flagship.

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