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Review: LG Chocolate

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The Chocolate, like all phones sold on Verizon, uses an interface and menu system designed by the carrier - though some of the development work has been done by LG and others. The Chocolate uses a new version that has a few improvements over past versions, but also introduces some new bugs as well.

On the home screen the most notable difference is the labels for side buttons. Instead of having to turn your phone to the side to find buttons, you can now look at it straight-on and see where the camera or voice recognition buttons are. These labels are small enough that they don't crowd the home screen, and they only run up the sides, where they won't conflict with any other information on the display.

The Chocolate is one of the new Verizon handsets that uses Flash Lite to customize the look of the main menu, and the chosen theme also affects the home screen to some degree. Each theme has a specific status and menu bar that it displays, though many of them are quite similar.

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In addition to the standard Verizon main menu, which instantly starts at the Messaging menu, there are two new main menus - Rock N Roll and Jazz. Jazz is a bit like the Sidekick main menu, with a semi-circle of icons that you can cycle through. Rock N Roll is the default menu theme and one of the prime causes for people confusing the D-pad for a scroll wheel. It is composed of a ring of icons, which you rotate through. The current selection is displayed in the center of the ring.

Because the interface is a ring, and the D-pad is a ring, and the D-pad has concentric ridges that guide your finger around it, you're like to try to spin through this menu configuration. Verizon must have noticed people making this mistake and put subtle fast forward / reverse icons on either side of the top of the menu ring to indicate you should press those instead of spinning around the ring.

Whether it was originally because of space constraints or in an effort to simplify things, the Verizon menu only has 6 options - most phones have 9 to 12. This means that sometimes tasks that deserve their own icon are actually hidden under something totally unrelated. For instance the camera and photo viewer are in the "Get It Now" menu, where they are difficult to find since most people familiar with Verizon think of Get It Now as their mobile internet options.

Once beyond the main menu, each application menu works as before, presenting a list of choices or applications, each with a numerical shortcut. Once inside an application, the left soft key and D-pad select each are assigned a task, and the right soft key opens the options menu. Like all other sub-menus on the phone, the options menu has numerical shortcuts for each item. The clear key can always be used to go back a step when navigating the phone's menus. The end key will always quit the current task and return the phone to the home screen.


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