The star feature of the Vu Plus, however, is support for AT&T Mobile TV, the carrier's live mobile TV service. Powered by Qualcomm's MediaFLO network, you will be able to receive the TV signal via MediaFLO's own network, so you won't have to suffer through the buffering issues typical with streaming video. You also won't get hit with data charges, since it's a separate subscription. You get more than 150 simulcast and time-shifted programs from many popular networks--they include CBS Mobile, CNN Mobile Live, ESPN, Comedy Central, Fox, MTV, NBC, and more. The service will cost you, though: it's $9.99 a month, with the first seven days free.
Speaking of Web browsing, the Vu Plus is blessed with 7.2 Mbps HSDPA speeds where available, which also means it gets access to the aforementioned Mobile Video, along with , which lets you download and purchase music from services like Napster and eMusic. You also get a few music apps built-in, like MusicID, XM Radio, and access to streaming music videos. The music player interface is simple yet slick. You get the usual player controls in addition to the ability to create and edit playlists on the fly, the repeat and shuffle modes, plus you can send the player to the background if you wish. The Vu Plus has a 50MB internal storage, but you can load up to 16GB microSD cards for additional storage.
The Vu Plus has a decent 3.0-megapixel camera, but we wished it took better pictures. You can take pictures in five resolutions, from 320x240 all the way to 2,048x1,536. Other settings include three quality settings, five white balance presets, five shot modes including a night mode, four color effects, autofocus, a self-timer, and three shutter tones plus a silent option. Photo quality was all right, and the autofocus worked well to reduce the blur, but we wished the colors were a bit brighter. There's also a built-in camcorder that can record in two resolutions, with recording modes for either MMS mode or up to available storage space. You can also use the camcorder to stream live one-way video via AT&T's VideoShare service.
You can personalize the phone with wallpaper and alert tones-you can either use your own or download them from the AT&T AppCenter store. The phone comes with a few applications and games--The Weather Channel, Mobile Banking, Pocket Express, Bejeweled, I-play Bowling, Rolling with Katamari, and Uno--but you can get more via the AppCenter as well.
We tested the LG Vu Plus in San Francisco using AT&T's service. We experienced decent signal strength--we got three to four bars when we were in the CNET office--and 3G coverage seemed strong as well.
Call quality was good, but not great. On our end, we heard our callers loud and clear, albeit with a slight harsh quality to their voice. We experienced little static or background noise as well.
On their end, callers reported a slight gritty quality to our voice. They said it was noticeable tinny, and that we were on a cell phone. They also heard a background hiss, which was odd since we were in a quiet office at the time. We were still able to carry on a conversation, however. Speakerphone quality had similar results, except with a bit more of an echo effect.
The AT&T Mobile TV reception was spectacular. While the video quality was rather pixelated, we experienced no lag at all when switching channels, and there was no buffering time when loading videos. As for AT&T's Mobile Video service, we experienced very little buffering time as well--about two seconds per video, thanks to the 3G speeds. Video quality was quite blurry and pixelated, though. We also managed to load the full CNET front page in just 25 seconds, which is quite speedy.
Audio quality for music playback was decent. The external speaker on the back had a rather hollow monotone output, so we would recommend using a stereo headset. It's unfortunate that the Vu Plus didn't come with a 3.5mm headset jack, but at least you can use stereo Bluetooth.
The LG Vu Plus has a rated battery life of 3 hours talk time and 12 days standby time. It has a tested talk time of 4 hours and 11 minutes. According to the FCC, it has a digital SAR of 0.67 watt per kilogram.