LG Voyager and Verizon V Cast
An interesting experience in the Verizon-sponsored part of the media room.
At CES a day before it opens, and although I've been able to sneak into some of the exhibition halls with my press pass, security's wised up and closed the others off to all but people setting up. So I spent a few minutes in the Verizon-sponsored portion of the press booth playing with LG's Voyager 10000, a would-be competitor to the iPhone. They're asking $300 plus a two-year contract commitment--that's $99 cheaper than the least-expensive iPhone, but the Voyager comes with much less memory (this one had 300MB on board), so you'll have to pay extra for a mini-SD card, up to 8GB.
They had it hooked up to a circular chair-pod thingie with individually controllable left and right speakers, which actually sounded quite amazing considering the files are 160kbps WMA, but my experience was periodically interrupted by the staffers, who apparently were under instructions not to let us listen too long unmolested. Funny thing was, one of the staffers didn't seem to be following the script very well, first mentioning to me that she couldn't believe that people actually paid $1.99 to download a song from V Cast, then claiming she preferred vinyl to all other forms of music and likening digital downloads to "static." Um, isn't it my job to point out the flaws in your products?
My brief experience with the Voyager and V Cast was so-so. The touch screen wasn't as responsive as the iPhone's, and the V Cast service kept returning a "can't connect to the server" error when I tried to download a song, even though the search results were right behind that search screen. I'm glad to see the iPhone has spurring the industry to move forward, but from what I've seen so far, when my Verizon contract's up this summer, they'll have an uphill battle to keep me aboard.