The LG VX8100 is one of two flagship
EVDO flip phones available from Verizon this summer. The
VX8100 is all about curves, good looks and small size compared
to its somewhat larger competitor, the Motorola
LG packs a nice set of features into a small package: stereo
speakers with great sound, vibrant internal and external
color displays, a 1.3 megapixel camera, ample memory, a
miniSD expansion slot, Bluetooth and support for V Cast
over Verizon's EVDO high speed data network. The only thing
lacking in the Verizon version was an MP3 player; but now
Verizon offers a firmware update to add MP3 player functionality.
That's great given the VX8100's excellent stereo sound
and expansion slot.
Design and Ergonomics
The VX8100 is a mid-sized clamshell phone
that's smaller than the Motorola E815 but larger than "micro" flips
such as the LG C1300 offered by Cingular. There isn't a straight
line on the device which lends itself to feeling good in
hand. The casing is bright silver and the front face has
an attractive blue inset which surrounds the large 65,000
color external LCD. Fast forward, rewind and a play/pause
button just below the LCD should work well with the MP3 player
(we received the pre-MP3 player version). These controls
don't control video playback on the external LCD, only audio.
The 1.3 megapixel camera lens lives just above the LCD and
the large stereo speakers function as the end caps for the
phone's sturdy hinge.
The miniSD slot is located on the right side
under a pop-open flexible cover that's permanently attached so
you won't lose it. As with most cell phones, the volume up/down
rocker is on the upper left side just below the headset jack. The
voice command button is located just below the volume rocker.
The LG's power connector is on the bottom edge and the non-extendable
antenna is on the top right. Open the clamshell and you'll be greeted
by a large number pad with slightly domed keys that click lightly
for just the right amount of tactile feedback. The phone's directional
pad is outlined in blue and is quite large and easy to operate.
The phone's inner display is vibrant yet easy to see outdoors.
Reception, Data, Voice and Phone Features
The LG VX8100 is a digital dual band phone supporting
both the 800 MHz CDMA and 1900 MHz PCS bands. As with most recent Verizon
phones, it does not offer analog support. The LG supports Verizon's V
Cast service for high speed download and playback of video and V Cast
gaming. V Cast offers programming from CNN, ESPN, Comedy Central, E!,
Fox Sports and AccuWeather. The phone has both EVDO and 1xRTT for data.
1xRTT is a 2.5g wireless data standard that gets about 90k speeds; while
the 3g EVDO, available in many major metro regions, averages a brisk
450k with a range of 300 to 800k. Unfortunately, Verizon has disabled
Bluetooth DUN (dial up networking), though folks have found an easy way
to enable it. DUN allows you to use the phone as a modem for a notebook
or PDA, though Verizon's terms of service prohibit tethering for use
The phone's OpenWave web browser is fast and renders
pages in an attractive manner. The browser uses Verizon's Mobile Web
2.0 service ($5/month) and their VZW Today start page with links to news,
weather, email, sports, entertainment and more. Though not pre-installed,
you can download a free IM client using the Get it Now feature which
allows you to chat on AIM, MSN and Yahoo instant messaging. This app
will appear under the Get Extras section of your phone after you've downloaded
it and uses text messages to send and receive IMs. Messages were reasonably
quick over an EVDO connection (since these are text message based, connection
speed shouldn't be important), though it's not nearly instantaneous as
true IM-ing using a smartphone or PDA phone. The client can stay active
in the background, notifying you when new messages come in.
How does the phone fare for voice? Conversations are
loud and clear and the LG's full duplex speakerphone is amazingly loud
and doesn't distort unless you crank up the volume to extremes. The VX8100
supports standard features such as call mute, voice privacy, call recording
and entering a note while in conversation. Phone reception is average:
not as strong as the venerable Motorola V710 but offering adequate reception
in even weak areas. Unless you need a phone that works in a very poor
coverage area, the LG should suffice. The LG supports 72 chord polyphonic
ringtones and has a vibrate function.
The phone has true voice recognition and you can issue
voice commands to have it call someone in your address book, digit dial,
call voicemail, tell you about your missed calls and read aloud the date
and time. The phone's address book can hold up to 500 contacts with several
phone numbers each. You can assign a photo to a contact as well as a
customized ringtone for voice and a customized tone for incoming messages.
You may also assign contacts to groups; either one of the canned groups
or one of your own making. In addition, the LG has 99 speed dial slots,
with the last three assigned to commonly used Verizon functions (#BAL,
#MIN and #PMT) and 1 assigned to voicemail. There's also a basic calendar
with day, week, and month views. You can create your own appointments
and reminders and set recurrence as needed.
The VX8100 can send both text and MMS (picture) messages.
It does not come with a POP3/IMAP email client, though you have the option
to download email applications using the phone. The LG does have an email
function that takes you to Verizon's web-based email portal for access
to Hotmail, AOL mail, Yahoo mail and a few others.
Display, Sound and Multimedia
The phone has an absolutely gorgeous
main display that's very color saturated, bright and vibrant. It displays
262K colors at 176 x 220 resolution. Photos, videos and games look fantastic
on this phone, making it a multimedia pleasure. 3D games such as Splinter
Cell: Chaos Theory ran well and looked good. It's especially well-suited
to watching V Cast videos paired with the very good stereo speakers.
The two speakers are mounted on the hinge-- one facing left, one facing
right for good stereo separation.
The 65K color outer display is excellent by secondary
LCD standards: it's bright, colorful and easy to read. It measures 128
x 128 pixels and shows the wallpaper of your choice, signal strength,
battery level, time and date.
While the Verizon version of the VX8100 lacked an MP3
player for the first month or so, Verizon now offers a firmware update
to add it. We received the pre-MP3 player version so can't describe it's
quality. But the great speakers and handy exterior controls should make
for a good music experience. The LG has 72
chord polyphonic ringtone support, comes with 15 ringtones and supports
multimedia ringtones. In addition, it has a voice recorder which can
record 1 minute long voice memos as well as phone conversations.
As you'd expect, Verizon's flagship EVDO feature
phone has a camera capable of taking still photos and videos (or
Pix and Flix as Verizon and the VX8100 call them). The 1.3 megapixel
CMOS camera takes good photos that are a bit dark: mostly sunny
days look partly cloudy. In outdoor and good indoor lighting, photos
are reasonably sharp and don't show much grain. Other than the "overcast" effect,
colors are fairly accurate and photos don't blow out highlights
in strong light nor is there much color fringing. The LG offers
a variety of camera controls and has an LED flash which helps a
bit at close range in poorly lit environments. You can adjust brightness,
white balance, turn on night mode, use color effects, enable/disable
the flash and change the shutter sound. The phone can take photos
at a maximum resolution of 1280 x 960, and can shoot photos at
a variety of lesser resolutions. Photos are saved by default to
internal memory, though you can use the image viewer to move them
(one by one) to a miniSD card. Of course, you can send your photos
and videos via MMS as well. The camcorder is of average quality,
with some blockiness but good color and nice sound. Video resolution
is fixed at 176x144, and the files are saved in 3G2 format (viewable
with Quicktime on the desktop).
Bluetooth and miniSD Slot
Want to use a Bluetooth headset or car kit with the
LG? No problem; it has integrated Bluetooth 1.1 with support for both
headset and hands free profiles. In our tests, it worked well with a
range of current popular headsets such as the Motorola
HS820, Cardo Scala
500 and Jabra BT800. The phone supports only Bluetooth headset and car
kits, it does not have profiles for OBEX push, FTP or DUN (dial up networking).
That means you won't be able to send photos to other devices using Bluetooth.
You can however, transfer photos to a miniSD card and use a card reader
on your PC to manage those files. We tested the VX8100 with ATP and PQI
miniSD cards and had no trouble transferring files to and from the card
using the phone, a PDA and PC with card reader. Since Verizon has disabled
DUN on the phone, you won't be able to use it as a wireless modem for
a computer or PDA over Bluetooth unless you do a little hacking yourself
to enable that feature. Do keep in mind that Verizon's terms of service
prohibit tethering the phone to another device for EVDO data connections.
The LG's 1,000 mA standard battery lasted us two days
with the phone turned on from 9am to midnight, 45 minutes per day of
talk time and 40 minutes of gaming and watching V Cast videos. This is
average for a CDMA phone with a bright screen, high speed data and loud
stereo speakers. Should you need more staying power, LG offers an optional
1,700 mA battery. If you're in an EVDO area you'll get better battery
life than in an area with fringe or partially deployed EVDO because the
phone will hunt for that trace EVDO signal throughout the day, consuming
battery power in the process.
A very nice feature phone from LG and Verizon,
with great ergonomics in a small clamshell package. The VX8100
has all the top features: 1.3 MP camera, Bluetooth, built in stereo
speakers, stereo headset support, a vibrant display and EVDO for
watching V Cast videos and downloading some very cool games. The
miniSD card slot makes it easy to get photos and videos off the
phone and onto your computer. The absence of Bluetooth
DUN and OBEX profiles hold this otherwise very good phone back
from a five star rating. However, Verizon is to blame for these
omissions, not LG who did include them in their original phone
Price: $149 with new contract or renewal, $199
without. Various voice plans available. Mobile Web is $5/month
and V Cast is $15/month for unlimited use.
TFT, 176 x 220 Pixels, 11 lines. 65K color TFT, 128
x 128 Pixels, 7 lines.
mAh Lithium Ion rechargeable. Battery is
user replaceable. Claimed talk time: 3.7 hours. Claimed
standby: 6.8 days.
RAM, 64 megs flash ROM.
x 1.92" (W) x 1.03" (D), Weight: 4.16 ounces.
in stereo speakers, mic and 2.5mm
headphone jack. Voice Recognition software included.
Full duplex speakerphone.72-Chord
Polyphonic Sound Support, Voice Memo Recorder (1
Minute Each; Up to 200 Memos Total). Has vibrate
dual band: 800 MHz CDMA and 1900 MHz PCS bands (no
analog). Supports both EVDO and 1xRTT for data.
MP camera with LED flash. 8x digital zoom. Camera
Resolutions: 1280 x 960, 640 x 480, 320 x 240, 176
x 144, 160x120 pixels. Video resolution: 176 x 144
pixels, 3G2 format.
Bluetooth:Supports both headset
and handsfree profiles. DUN profile not included.
Bluetooth 1.1, class 2 radio.
Calendar, text and MMS client, instant messaging
(downloadable), Gallery, camera, Get it Now (download
Pix and Flix, ringtones, BREW games and apps such
as email and IM clients) and Open Wave WAP web browser
for use with Verizon's Mobile Web service 2.0.