Review: LG Rumor
At first glance, the Rumor might seem to be a slightly chubby bar-style phone. It's feels weighty, but otherwise good in your hand. The soft-touch paint job does wonders for the touch and feel of the Rumor, and gives it a slight texture that will help prevent the phone from slipping out of your grasp. The seam separating the two halves of this sideways slider is very well hidden, and it is almost by accident that you discover you can slip it open to reveal a full QWERTY keyboard.
With the phone closed, it is very pocketable. Despite its thickness, the overall footprint is small enough that slipping it into your jeans pockets is simply not an issue. The overall shape is smooth with rounded edges that make it comfortable, both in your pants, and in your hand.
Because the D-pad is generally one of the first things you interact with, you instantly notice that it feels as if it is jumping out at your thumb. The entire surface of the D-pad is raised perhaps 1mm or so above the rest of the phone's front face. It is a circular button that is about the size of a dime. Even though it is a little small, it is extremely usable. There is a narrow silvery ridge that rims the outside of the D-pad, but it doesn't provide much leverage for your thumb. The one complaint we'd voice about the D-pad is that the center select button is a bit on the small size. I often found myself accidentally moving the selector up or down when I intended to press the center button itself. It also has a cheap "clacking" sound when pressed. Even though it didn't sound very pleasant, the action and feedback were more than adequate.
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There are six control keys flanking the D-pad, including the left and right soft keys, a speakerphone key and a Back key, and the send/end keys. The two soft keys are built into the bottom of the display's frame and are indicated by horizontal hashmarks. The only physical indication that you've found them is the slight rim along the bottom of the keys. The other four keys near the D-pad are all separate keys that have distinct shape and feel to them.
Each key of the numeric keypad is raised up from the surface of the phone a tiny bit, and is shaped a bit like a medicine caplet. They all stand out enough that your thumb knows it is touching a different key as it slides over the keypad. The one goof is that the center column of keys (2, 5, 8, 0) is shifted down about half a key length compared to the columns on its left and right. It's not a big deal most of the time, but we found it to be a little jarring when we were trying to type out messages quickly using the keypad. It makes for extra travel distance for your thumb. All of the keys featured the same cheap, clacking sound when pressed.
Also on the front side of the phone are two duplicate soft keys on the right side of the display. This is so that when the phone is opened, you have access to those functions keys. They do not do anything while the phone is closed.
On the left side of the phone is the volume toggle and camera key. Using the volume toggle sometimes causes the Rumor to slide open a little bit. This made using it a bit more difficult that it should be. Because it is on the bottom half of the phone, if you press too hard, it will slide under the top half. Same goes for the camera button. The actual buttons did offer good feedback and travel, though. There are two hatches on the right side of the Rumor. One for the microSD card, and one for the 2.5mm headset. Both were easy to access and open.
The battery is integrated into the hatch on the back side of the phone. There's a little button that releases the battery when pressed.
The sliding mechanism for the Rumor is spring assisted, and it snaps open easily. It's so fun to open and close, that I found myself unconsciously opening and closing, opening and closing it.
The screen automatically rotates to landscape mode, and goes one step further. It also automatically opens the messaging menu, because it assumes you are going to use it to start a message. A nice little touch.
The QWERTY keyboard itself has three rows. They keys are also coated with the soft-touch paint and feel comfortable under your thumbs. The one problem I have with sideways slider QWERTY keyboards is I don't like how wide they are. Your thumbs have to travel all over the place to type out messages. I much prefer the style of keyboards found on BlackBerry or Palm devices. But, that's me. Perhaps this wide keyboard makes the bulk of you happy and I am just weird. The travel and feedback was acceptable, and the keys made less of that nasty clacking sound, but in the end, I found the keyboard uncomfortable to use.
The other major complaint I have with this configuration is the D-pad. I hold phones in my right hand and use my right thumb to navigate with the D-pad. With this particular design, if you open up the phone, the D-pad becomes situated on the left side of the phone, meaning I need to use my left thumb to navigate. I am sure that I'd get use to it after a while, but I find this design just awkward to use.
CTIA Fall 2007
CTIA offered Phone Scoop the chance to get some hands-on time with a bunch of new phones. In Part 2, handsets from UT Starcom and i-Mate.
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