LG CU320 (AT&T) review:

LG CU320 (AT&T)

The LG CU320 has a 1.3-megapixel camera, but it takes pictures in only three resolutions: 1,280x960, 640x480, and 320x240. The camera also comes with a good assortment of editing features. You get three picture-quality settings, a self-timer (3, 5, or 10 seconds), multishot features (three, six, or nine shots), a flash, four color effects, three shutter sounds (plus a silent option), six white-balance choices, a brightness control, and a 4X zoom (not available at the highest resolution). Once you take a photo, you can modify it with the useful image editor. You can rotate or resize images; insert text or graphics; flip the orientation to produce a mirror image; clip or blur your shots; and choose from a number of effects, including color options, a contrast setting, and a sharpness control.

The LG CU320's photos were blurrier than we would have liked.

The video recorder shoots clips with sound in two resolutions: 320x240 and 176x144. The time limit varies from 30 seconds in MMS mode to 25 minutes in general mode. Editing options are similar to those on the still camera, but the zoom decreases to 2X. Once finished shooting or filming, you can save your work to the phone's respectable 64MB of memory or to the TransFlash card. At the time of this writing, the capacity of TransFlash cards tops out at 512MB, whicht should be enough to keep you happy.

You can customize the CU320 with a variety of wallpaper, menu styles, color schemes, and sounds. If you want more options or ring tones, you can download them from Cingular using the WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser. Game choices were limited to demo versions of Tetris and Texas Hold 'Em; if you want the full versions or any other Java (J2ME) titles, you'll have to buy them.

We tested the triband, dual-mode (GSM 850/1800/1900; UMTS 850/1900) LG CU320 using Cingular Wireless service in the San Francisco Bay Area. Call quality was generally good, though we noticed on our end that voices sounded a bit metallic. Callers reported the same on their end and said they could tell we were using a cell phone. Volume, however, was satisfactory for all types of calls. Speakerphone calls were reliably clear, with little to no distortion. We also tried connecting to the Plantronics Explorer 320 Bluetooth headset. Though we made the connection with ease, we encountered noticeable static on some calls. That could be due to the headset, however. Overall, we had no trouble getting a signal and detected no interference from other electronic devices.

We were pleased to see that the LG CU320 can make voice calls and use data services simultaneously. Most of the time we were able to get a clear UMTS signal in the city, even in buildings. Yet it did peter out at times, and on a couple of occasions, our connection timed out when we were trying to download a game. Also, it was annoying that in areas of weak UMTS reception, we couldn't program the phone to automatically find the fastest available network (such as EDGE). But on the plus side, download speeds were zippy (400Kbps to 700Kbps), which makes Cingular's network a bit faster than the EV-DO networks from both Sprint and Verizon. We downloaded a 209K game in 20 seconds--nice. At the end of the day, however, we wish we had access to Cingular's 3.5G HSDPA network. Though it's up and running in the 16 cities where the UMTS service operates, HSDPA is currently available only for laptop users. That means we'll have to wait until Cingular rolls out the Samsung SGH-ZX20.

Video quality was very good, particularly on such an attractive display. We downloaded a 3-minute, 30-second Sex and the City clip in just 15 seconds and watched the whole thing without experiencing any rebuffering or pauses. The frame rate of 15 frames per second is half that of a television's, but videos looked smooth, without any pixelation. We could recognize faces, though sound lagged behind the picture at times. In all, it's a fun exercise as long as you remember that the phone isn't designed to replace your living room entertainment center. Likewise, sound quality on the MP3 player was fine for short spurts, but don't throw away your iPod just yet.

The LG CU320 has a rated talk time of 2.5 hours and a promised standby battery life of 8.3 days. In our tests, we got 3 hours, 41 minutes of talk time and 13 days of standby time. According to FCC radiation tests, the CU320 has a digital SAR rating of 1.06 watts per kilogram.

What you'll pay

    Visit manufacturer site for details.

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