The Vu comes with 3G HSDPA support, which allows it access to AT&T's wide array of broadband services. This includes AT&T's Cellular Video, which lets you watch streaming video clips from content providers like Comedy Central and ESPN, plus AT&T Mobile Music that lets you download and stream songs from Napster or eMusic. The music player has a slick interface, with easy-to-use controls and the ability to view album art. You can create your own playlists, and songs are divided into artists, albums, and genres. Along with downloading songs over the air, you can also load your own tunes to the device. The Vu has an internal storage memory of 120MB, but there's also a microSD card slot for additional storage. As a bonus, the LG Vu also works with AT&T's Video Share service that allows one-way video streaming during a mobile-to-mobile call (provided the other phone is also Video Share compatible).
But the biggest feature by far is AT&T Mobile TV, AT&T's brand new live mobile TV service. It follows the trail of V Cast Mobile TV by offering live mobile television via Qualcomm's MediaFLO. Since the TV signals will route via MediaFLO's own network, you'll be able to receive live TV straight to your phone without any data or voice charges. AT&T promises more than 150 simulcast and/or time-shifted programs from content providers like CBS, ESPN, Comedy Central, ESPN, Fox, MTV, NBC, and more. As a special bonus for AT&T subscribers, you will get two AT&T-exclusive channels called PIX and CNN Mobile Live--PIX is a channel from the Sony Pictures library, and CNN Mobile Live offers 24-hour access to live news from CNN. The service will cost you, though; the Basic package is $15 a month for just the Mobile TV, and the Plus package, at $30 a month, is for the Mobile TV as well as unlimited Web browsing and Cellular Video. If you want to go even lower, you can opt for only four channels--CBS Mobile, FOX Mobile, NBC 2Go, and NBC News 2Go--for only $13 a month. AT&T Mobile TV will launch in 58 markets nationwide.
The Vu has a decent 2-megapixel autofocus camera, but we did wish it had a slightly higher megapixel count. You can take pictures in five resolutions (1,600x1,200; 1,280x960; 640x480; 320x240; 160x120), three quality settings, five white-balance settings, and four color effects. Other settings include up to 2x zoom, three shutter sounds with a silent option, a macro mode, a night mode, and a self-timer. Photo quality was quite good. Colors appeared accurate enough, and the autofocus was helpful in reducing the chance of a blurry photo. However, photos didn't look as sharp as we wanted, and we missed having a flash. The Vu also has a built-in camcorder that can record videos in two resolutions (320x240 and 176x144) with recording modes of up to 42 seconds for multimedia messages or up to the available storage space. Camcorder settings are similar to that on the still camera. Video quality was predictably bad for a camera phone, with a lot of pixelation during movement.
There are plenty of personalization options with the LG Vu. Not only do you get an array of wallpaper, screensavers, and alert tones to choose from, you can always get more via AT&T's MEdiaNet store. There's even a Shop Ringtones shortcut right from the home screen. The Vu comes with a few Web applications--InStyle Mobile Demo (a mobile version of the magazine site), IMDB movies (an app that lets you find show times and theatres of the latest movies), My-Cast 5 weather, and MySpace Mobile (a mobile version of the popular social networking site)--but you can download more if you wish. As for games, you get Bejeweled, Jewel Quest II Demo, Midnight Pool, New York Nights, and WSOP Pro Challenge Poker with the phone, but again, you can always download more.
We tested the quad-band dual-mode (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; UMTS/HSDPA) LG Vu in San Francisco using AT&T's service. Call quality was excellent, with little to no distortion. We heard our callers clearly with plenty of volume, and they, too, didn't hear a lot of background noise. Speakerphone calls came through loud and clear, as well, though we did have to speak up a little bit more. We managed to pair the LG Vu with the Aliph Jawbone Bluetooth headset without a problem.
Unfortunately, we were not able to fully test out AT&T Mobile TV at the time of testing, since AT&T has not yet deployed the TV service in San Francisco. We will give a proper review of the service when we do.
As far as HSDPA speeds go, though, we were very pleased with the results. Web pages loaded in mere seconds, and a song download only took about minute. We also managed to stream video with little to no buffering time. That said, video quality wasn't the best; most videos looked choppy and blurry, especially the ones with a lot of action. Music quality was great, with strong melodic tunes coming through, as long as you use a headset. The built-in speakers aren't so great for listening to music because of a slightly hollow sound.
The LG Vu has a rated battery life of 3.16 hours talk time and 10 days, 10 hours of standby time. Our tests reveal a talk time of 3.16 hours. According to the FCC, it has a digital SAR rating of 1.26 watts per kilogram.