This is by no means an exhaustive review – just my experiences using the phone. That said, let’s take a look at one of LG’s latest and greatest phones.
The VX8100 has a HUGE internal screen that is bright with great contrast. It also has a little postage stamp size full color external screen that is great for taking pictures or video of yourself. The phone has all the bells and whistles of new phones from Verizon like VCAST and mobile web 2.0, but Verizon wants $15 a month for those services. I laughed at the salesperson in the store. I wouldn’t pay $15 a month even if it was streaming unlimited porn! The screen is big and bright, but what kind of content is really worth watching on a 2″ screen?
Anyway, this phone is great for taking pictures and short video clips. It does have a 1.3 MP camera, but the video is only at 176X144 pixels. Video is encoded in the .3gp format, which is based on the Mpeg4 codec, but only Quicktime players can do playback right now. It also has a flash, although the quality in dark situations suffers.
One of the hardest things to find is what size to make pictures for use as wallpaper on the phone, so here it is. For the inside, use 176X184. The outside screen uses 128X112. Be sure to save the images in .jpg format.
The phone has a lot of features that I never use, like Bluetooth. I’m sure it’s wirelessly fantastic. The feature that I love is the MP3 player. It has a miniSD slot, so you can add however much memory you need, and it works great. Unfortunately, LG didn’t implement the MP3 player in the phones factory software, so I had to take the phone into the Verizon store and wait FOREVER while they updated my phone, and then it ended up hosing a bunch of pictures that I had on the phone before the update. SHEESH! Once I had my newfound MP3 superpowers, I dropped a mere $30 for a 512MB miniSD card, and I was on my way!
I choose to swap out the miniSD card to transfer files to and from my phone, but you could also purchase a USB cable for the phone, or get a Bluetooth adapter for your PC. Once I got the tunes onto my phone, I started blasting them out of the crapilicious built-in stereo speakers. The sound quality was a little better than if I had called my buddy, put the phone on speakerphone, and asked him to hold his IPOD up to the phone. After about 4 or 5 songs the battery died, BIG SURPRISE. So I started looking for some headphones.
The headphone issue is a big one. LG USES A PROPRIETARY CONNECTOR. Who do they think they are anyway, SONY? It’s hard to see in the picture, but it has extra leads because it carries stereo audio and a mic. LG sells this headphone set (see the pic below) for about $20 USD retail. My Verizon store didn’t carry them, so I had to get them from LG’s website. The little triangular dongle thingy has a volume control, call answer button, and the mic. When you’re listening to music, incoming calls will mute the MP3 player. The sound quality is about one level above crapilicious, let’s say craptastic. Bass is nearly non-existent, and at higher volume levels, the bass just becomes noise. With the EQ on the phone set to ROCK and the volume above about 60%, it sounded like static. The only way to get acceptable sound quality was to set the EQ to FLAT.
LG would have done better to include a universal 3.5mm headphone connector rather than the proprietary 2.5mm connector. That way, you could cruise the tunes with a nice set of headphones and leave the hands-free calling up to a Bluetooth headset. Besides, it’s illegal to drive with headphones in both ears, so you wouldn’t want to use it in the car. (Even though some states grant driver’s licenses to deaf people.)
With the headphones, battery life was a little better, but even with moderate use (a few phone calls and text messages and lots of standby time) the battery only lasts about 36 to 48 hours. Verizon sells an extended battery that would give you about 70% more time, but it makes the phone bulky, and it costs something like $50 USD. I just got a spare battery and the standalone battery charger.
I have a few other gripes about the phone. First, the manual is horrible. I wanted to use the speakerphone, and couldn’t find out how to use it. The manual says nothing about speakerphone, but all the documentation and product specs say that it has the ability. Finally, I figured out that if you press and hold the CLR button, it goes to speakerphone.
Next, LG has changed the way it does menus. The phone menus are based on the idea of tabs, like file folders and many other GUIs. Unfortunately, this makes the old system of getting to commonly used items obsolete. On my old LG and Nokia phones, you could press menu, and then key in the number of the menu items, so for example I could get to the alarm clock by hitting menu, 3, 2, 1 or whatever. Now you have to side scroll, so it’s like I’m entering fighting moves for Mortal Kombat or something. Now it’s Menu, right, enter, down, down, enter, down, enter. Now I’m waiting for the phone to say: “FINISH HIM!”
LG did implement a shortcut key, so that instead of doing all that button pressing you can get to a menu item with one button. It works OK, but I still long for the old menus.
I also hate the voice recognition menus. It just takes too long to use them, so I don’t bother. My old LG phone had a feature where you just say the person’s name and it calls them. With this phone it’s more along the lines of “Call Someone”, wait, “Lara”, wait, “Yes”, wait, “Mobile”, wait, “Yes”. Sometimes it’s just not worth it when you have to spend 60 seconds just to call someone.
Finally, LG has gone with some red borders on the screen that you cannot change by changing the color scheme in the phone. I’m starting to get a little tired of the red.
Altogether, it’s a pretty sweet phone, and I got the sucker free with my 2 year agreement, $100 upgrade credit, and a $50 mail-in rebate.