LG introduced a handful of phones at CTIA, the biggest of which were the Vu and the enV2. It also showed off the Glimmer and the Iron Man Special Edition phone. All of them are solid efforts from LG and will surely be popular with the public.
The enV2 was probably LG's splashiest announcement at the show. This is the successor to the very popular enV. LG has a lot riding on the success of this phone, because the model that it is replacing was a real hit for Verizon Wireless.
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It is a much smaller phone, and this is a really good thing. It is close to an inch shorter, and it is thinner from front to back. The width is about the same. This makes it a much more attractive and usable phone that fits better in your jeans pocket. It has the same assortment of buttons along the left side, include the camera key and volume toggle. The right side is where you'll find the microSD slot. The power port is along the bottom.
The front fascia has been completely redesigned. The keys are all much larger, while the screen is a lot smaller. Using the keys was fantastic. Great travel and feedback, and lots of room to find them. I didn't care for the redesigned navigation cluster as much. There are two separate keys above and below a larger central key where the center of the D-pad would normally be. These three keys together form a circular shape, but to me it felt unnatural to use the middle key to scroll from left to right. The soft keys to either side of this central set of control keys were decent, though, and provided the same feedback that the other keys did.
The exterior display was a bit disappointing to use. It can really only display a few lines of information, and I found this narrow display to be frustrating.
Opening up the enV2 shows that LG didn't change the phoen too much. It knew not to mess with a formula that works. The QWERTY keyboard is more compact than that of the enV. This is a good thing. Because the keys are closer together, your fingers don't have to travel as far to push the buttons. I found it to be much faster to compose messages with. Also, the touch and feel of the D-pad has been impoved. The materials are slightly different and have a soft-touch feel to them. Key placement and function was mostly the same as the original enV.
The interior screen is much larger that the previous version of the enV. It has brilliant colors, is great for watching video content and it is flanked by two speakers.
The menus are where the enV2 fall a little flat. Since this is a phone for Verizon, the basic menu structure is the same as the original enV and the Voyager. The icons have been touched up a bit, and you can alter fonts and things like that, but the overall functionality is the same.
Despite this drawback, the enV2 is a worthy entrant to the multimedia phone market, and will likely be a big seller for Verizon Wireless.
Here is a brief video tour of the enV2:
AT&T outed the Vu when it announced its MediaFLO Mobile TV service. Phone Scoop also had a few moments with it on the floor at CES several months ago. It follows LG's new design language with the classic black slab and silver accents. The Vu is surprisingly light to hold, and feels comfortable in your hand. There are very few buttons, just three along the bottom and several along the right side that includes the volume rocker, camera key, lock key and hatches for the ports.
The touch screen interface itself is similar to what we've seen on other LG touch phones, with the four main icons across the bottom of the phone which open up different menus. Each menu has a tabbed structure, with the tabs running along the right side of the phone's screen. This is what you use to access most of the Vu's features. It takes a little bit more digging around to find stuff in this menu that we'd like it to, but it is smooth and fairly intuitive.
There is a dedicated software button to launch the MediaFLO Mobile TV service, which was up and running here in las Vegas. The TV feed loads almost instantly and looks fantastic. The guide is easy to bring up on the screen and use to find the programming you want to watch. While using the guide a small thumbnail of the current channek continues to play in the upper right hand corner. We have to say we were impressed with the TV service.
Here is a video preview of the Vu:
The Glimmer is similar in that it also uses a touch screen interface, but it is a slider and has a 12-key numeric keypad for dialing numbers. The Glimmer is a large phone. It's larger and heavier than the Vu and the enV. This has to be because of the slider form factor. Despite its size and weight, it is not uncomfortable to hold by any stretch of the imagination. The slider mechanism feels very solid and 'thonks' open and closed. The keys of the keypad are very RAZR-esque. I didn't like the way that they felt when I used them. They offered decent feedback and travel, but there's just something about this particular keypad design that bugged me. Another nit-picky thing to mention is that the angled nature of the slide design means that the top row of keys falls slightly under a ledge create by top half of the phone. This made it difficult for me to use that row of buttons.
The buttons on the sides of the phone were all easy to find and user, and offered good travel and feedback. The touch UI was very much like that of the Vu. It seems to be a standard touch UI that LG has developed for touch phones, because we've seen it on other models for the European market as well. One really neat thing. The front of the Glimmer has a ginormous analog clock. You can touch the clock and drag it around anywhere on the home screen. You can also tap it to bring up an instant alarm clock program. I found this feature to be really useful.
The rest of the UI includes the four control buttons running along the bottom of the screen. Each opens up the same tabbed menu structure we saw for the Vu. It was just as easy and intuitive to use. Rather than having a dedicated TV button in this dock, however, it had a button dedicated to Alltel applications.
If you're looking for a touch screen phone that also has a 12-key dialpad, the Glimmer is a decent choice. It has some quirks, but it does all that we've come to expect from powerful multimedia touch phones.
Here is a video preview of the Glimmer:
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