Phones

LG U890: wireless Big Brother and MP3s

You'll either love or hate 3's live stream of Big Brother, but LG's 3G-enabled U890 is a promising little handset for music lovers, with stereo Bluetooth connectivity, an MP3 player and a microSD card slot onboard.

LG's release of the U890 co-incides with the launch of Big Brother 06 in Australia, with 3 mobile jumping on the bandwagon as a major sponsor of Endemol's popular reality TV show. The 3G carrier is offering 24/7 live streams for supported devices on its network, including the U890, direct from the isolated fibro home in Coomera, Queensland.

When we tried accessing the service from our Sydney office -- using the U890's little brother, the U880 -- it took only about ten seconds to buffer some footage before we caught the latest action from inside the house: for those who need an update, insider Michael is suspiciously glaring over at mum Karen and token farmer/token gay-guy David is no doubt pondering the latest conspiracy theory that's popped into his head. The quality of the live BB stream, which Ten is offering only on the 3 network (for the third consecutive time), appears to be better this year, with a clear picture, little pixelation and no pausing. However, this could dramatically change if popularity of the stream causes network congestion -- the live video service was accessed 250,000 times in the first three days of the series, according to the telco.

For those who hate the show and just want to know about the handset, it's a 3G flip phone with an AAC/MP3/WMA player and microSD card slot. We're not sure what size card 3's throwing in, if any, but there's 71MB of internal memory, regardless. The best feature in terms of music, in our eyes, is support for stereo Bluetooth headphones that use the A2DP standard, so you can listen to your music wirelessly (up to around 10 metres). There's an xHTML browser for surfing Web sites and a 1.3-megapixel camera for pics -- a bit shy of the 3.2-megapixel Sony Ericsson K800i released in Australia at Photo Imaging World in Sydney last Friday. The screen is apparently larger than the U880, the handset weighs in just under 100g and is available here only in blue, so far.

Right, those hungry for more BB features, read on. In yet another "world first" this year, you can easily vote through the 3 portal page (at 55c a pop) to evict or save your most loathed/loved housemate. Oi! must apologise to Claire: in the interests of testing the service we had to send her our eviction vote. Oh well, she's pretty dull anyway.