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HolidayBuyer's Guide

LG Neon hands-on

A hands-on with the LG Neon, AT&T's new messaging phone with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard and an interesting semi-touch-screen display.

LG Neon
LG Neon Nicole Lee/CNET
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The LG Xenon is clearly LG's premier announcement at CTIA this year, but the LG Neon deserves a closer look too. I had a brief hands-on with the device early yesterday, and it left a pretty good impression though I question some of the design choices.

Like the Xenon, the Neon has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard and is meant to be a messaging device. It has a nice display and is slim and lightweight. The keyboard only has 3 rows instead of the 4 rows on the Xenon, so it's slightly more cramped. Still, the keys are well-spaced and have a bumpy texture for easier texting. On the front of the Neon is a navigation array complete with the two soft keys and four-way directional pad.

Here's where it gets a little interesting; the LG Neon's display is a touch screen, but only for the phone dialer. You hit a dedicated phone keypad button in the navigation array, and the virtual number keypad will show up. I was able to press the numbers like on an ordinary touch screen display, and there was vibration feedback as well. For the rest of the phone's interface, though, you're stuck with the regular navigation keys. Why LG decided not to make all of the functions of the Neon accessible via touch screen is a mystery to me.

Features of the LG Neon aren't as advanced as the Xenon's. It still has the 2.0-megapixel camera, music player, and stereo Bluetooth, but you won't get 3G and it only supports tri-band GSM. Pricing and availability of the LG Neon are still unknown, though we're sure we'll find out shortly.