Thursday, August 03, 2006

LG Chocolate Phone is a Sweet Slider

Mmm. Chocolate. This phone looks so good you'll want to take a bite out of it. The new LG VX8500 Chocolate is much more than eye candy. It's got a hot music player that lets you download tunes off the air or from your computer, a Megapixel digital camera, huge vibrant color display and the ability to stream stereo music over Bluetooth.

OK, get ready to smack your lips. The sleek dark chocolate case with red accents looks just a like rich chocolate bar. You would also be justified in thinking that you are holding a new version of the Apple iPod. Actually this IS the iPod phone that Apple should have built. But, noooo. Apple has been upstaged by Verizon Wireless with the LG Chocolate. No iTunes on this machine. Instead, you can store and play your MP3 or WMA format music files. Transfer the ones you already have from your computer using an optional USB cable.

But remember, this is a wireless device. That means you can browse and buy the latest tunes that catch your fancy from the VCAST Music store right on your cell phone. The music store catalog features 1.3 million tracks. That's enough to fill out anyone's music collection, but a few more than you can store on your Chocolate. This phone does go way beyond other music phones, though. While built-in memory gives you a generous 68 MB, you can plug in an optional memory card up to 2 GB. That 2 Gigabytes will hold up to 1,000 songs on the phone. That's as many or more than many solid state iPods or stand-alone MP3 players.

Here's something your old music player can't do: Stream your music to a set of Bluetooth stereo headphones. The LG Chocolate can. Chocolate supports A2DP, the Advanced Audio Distribution Profile that interconnects Bluetooth devices to wireless stereo headphones. Of course, the built-in Bluetooth will also let you use the standard clip on Bluetooth earpieces for hands-free cell phone conversations.

The large round navigation wheel on the front of the LG Chocolate slider lets you control your music while keeping the cell phone keys nicely stowed. The color main display is a large 240 x 320 pixels and shows your information, pictures and videos in high resolution. Pictures? Videos? Yes, the Chocolate offers multimedia features that go way beyond music.

VCAST is an optional video on demand service for Verizon mobile phones that have the high speed data download capability. You'll get music shows, of course. But you can also get the latest in news, weather, sports and entertainment news on the go. All this is made possible by the Verizon EVDO cellular broadband signals that are available in most major metropolitan areas. Downloads and Internet access are available at up to 700 Kbps, better than many DSL or Cable Internet hookups. Out in the boonies, the system switches to a lower speed system that is more like dial-up access. You'll have to check the coverage maps to see if you can get EVDO and the amazing VCAST capabilities.

You can make your own videos using the built-in digital camera in camcorder mode. Most of the time you'll want to take advantage of the high resolution still picture capability. Your pix are captured in a full 1.3 Megapixels, making them sharp enough to print as well as message.

Speaking of messaging, the LG Chocolate supports standard SMS text messaging, instant messaging with IM clients for AOL IM and Yahoo Messenger built-in, multimedia messaging for sending and receiving photos and videos, and standard POP3 email. Mobile Web browsing is also supported.

What other treats does this tasty phone serve up? How about GPS navigation? Never get lost again, with the optional VZ Navigator service that gives you turn by turn directions. How about voice memos up to a minute long? How about voice driven menus that need no phone pre-training, picture Caller ID, customizable ringtones and graphics, and a 500 entry phone book with up to 5 entries per contact plus 2 email addresses. That should help you stay in touch regardless of where you roam.

All of this capability is available in a scrumptious package that isn't much larger than a business or credit card and thinner than most other cell phones. It weighs a mere 3.5 ounces so it won't weigh you down like those other chocolate bars with their high calorie content.

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