Review: LG VX-8100
Designed to replace the VX8000, the VX8100 is essentially the same size, but the extensive use of beveled and rounded edges gives it a smaller feel. It feels smaller than a Motorola e815, thanks to its more tapered design - corners are rounded out everywhere, particularly on the bottom of the phone. All the smoothed edges make the 8100 easy to hold, allowing it to sit comfortably in the hand regardless of how you hold it. The phone's width gives it good balance on uneven surfaces, something that proves useful while using the speakerphone. Beveling between the top and bottom half of the clamshell makes opening the phone with a thumb-wedge action easy.
When open, the large edge buttons limit the surface area with which to grip the phone. Thankfully these buttons don't activate easily, so the worry subsides shortly, allowing us to grow more comfortable holding it after the first couple days. Hinge action is smooth and quiet, and suffered no consequence through our regular behavior of whipping the phone shut before dropping it into our pocket.
For the size and shape, and given two large displays and stereo speakers, the phone is certainly lighter than it initially appears. The phone doesn't suffer from attempting to be too light like many large phones attempt to be, something we find to convey a lack of quality manufacturing.
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The phone displays a great sense of build quality, with plastics coming together tightly along all the seams, as well as firm closure where the battery and mini SD slot are concerned. The phone's build is confident and reassuring. It inspires trust in our hand and maintained its quality over three weeks of extended use.
The phone's main keypad is great to work with for a number of reasons. All the keys have a short travel and respond with a subtle 'click' when they are depressed. In addition, the button size, spacing, and labeling all contribute to making the act of dialing numbers, typing text messages, and physical operation a painless experience.
Verizon's navigation cluster is also quite comfortable. The tactile response to moving a thumb over the four-direction rocker switch and centered OK button was excellent, and made look-away operation easy. One downside: the phone's two softbuttons are a bit too far from their on-screen functions because of the phone's large speakers. Early on, determining which button executed which function took a couple moments too long as a result of this layout.
The phone's CLR key is shared with the speakerphone function. This made initially finding the speakerphone button difficult, as we rarely see CLR keys sharing their function. Once we determined this, thankfully there were no issues with the button's behavior; speakerphone was enabled and disabled, while both on and off calls, without any issue.
The volume, voice command, and camera edge keys were cause for some trepidation. First off, they are all somewhat large, and therefore take up considerable real estate on the phone's edges. Early in our use of the phone, gripping the phone was somewhat difficult, as we tried to avoid pressing edge keys accidentally. Thankfully none of these keys responded from a stray press, and we were able to hold the phone more comfortably, without fear of random action from the phone.
Second with the phone's edge keys is their varying behavior. Launching the camera required us to press and hold the edge key. The same press and hold on the voice command key responded with an error, though it made no indication that the phone must be open to use this function (it must). The volume adjustment buttons did not respond at all with the phone closed. While most of these button behaviors are designed to protect against accidental in-pocket actions, we considered the unresponsive volume key somewhat limiting for situations where quickly adjusting the phone's ring volume is important.