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LG EnV3 review:


More advanced users will like the USB mass storage, GPS with VZ Navigator support, e-mail, and visual voice mail. Do note that the Verizon visual voice mail service will cost you $3 a month. There are three e-mail options; mobile e-mail, where you can get POP3 access to e-mail services from Yahoo, Windows Live, AOL, Verizon, and more; mobile corporate e-mail courtesy of RemoSync that lets you access your work e-mail and calendar; and mobile Web e-mail, which gives you shortcut access to a variety of Web e-mail services like Windows Live, AOL Mail, and Yahoo Mail--this latter option opens up the Web browser. Do note that the mobile e-mail application does cost $5, and in order to get corporate e-mail you'll have to sign up for a $9.99 monthly subscription to RemoSync. The corporate e-mail option works with Microsoft ActiveSync, so you need to know your company's mail Exchange server address.

Another upgrade over the EnV2 is that the LG EnV3 has something called Dashboard with Mobile Web, which is essentially a Web portal that leads to various Web channels and information sources such as ESPN, weather, entertainment, news, community (which leads to Facebook and MySpace shortcuts) as well as access to the Verizon store, where you can buy games and ringtones. The Dashboard interface is powered by Adobe Flash Cast, which results in a really graphically rich interface with full-color photos.

The biggest feature of the Dashboard is that it has a shortcut to a full HTML Web browser, which is a big upgrade over the EnV2's WAP browser. The browser is really easy to use, and you can zoom in and out of pages, adjust to a full-screen view, add bookmarks, check out the Internet History, subscribe to RSS feeds, and search through a page. Our one caveat is that there doesn't seem to be a way to access a real URL field on top of the browser--you need to keep going to a Verizon VZWGoto site where you can then enter in the URL in a small search box. This makes surfing the Web much slower than it should be.

Since the LG EnV3 has EV-DO, it also has access to Verizon's array of broadband services like V Cast Music, where you can download songs over the air, and V Cast Video, where you can download or stream video clips from providers like CBS and CNN. The V Cast Music with Rhapsody service works well with the built-in music player because you can purchase and download songs directly to the player. Each song costs $1.99, which also includes a download to your PC as well.

The music player interface is simple, with the album art prominently displayed next to the artist and album name, plus the track title as well. You can mute the player, create and edit playlists, set the songs on repeat or shuffle, or add one of six preset equalizer settings. You can also activate Music Only mode, which shuts off the phone's cellular signal for when you're on an airplane. Aside from downloading a song from V Cast Music, you can also sync up the songs from your computer with a USB cable. If you have the Rhapsody service, you can sync up all your subscribed songs, too. The music player supports MP3, WMA, unprotected AAC, and AAC+ formats. There's a microSD card slot that will support up to 16GB of removable memory for more storage.

The LG EnV3 has a 3.0-megapixel camera with LED flash.

The EnV3 comes with a 3.0-megapixel camera, which is an upgrade over the EnV2's 2.0-megapixel lens. You can take pictures in six different resolutions (2,048x1,536, 1,600x1,200, 1,280x960, 640x480, and 320x240 pixels), five white balance presets, and five color effects. You can toggle the flash on or off, adjust a self-timer if you want, or select one of three shutter sounds (there's also a silent option). The camera even has four special shot modes: Smile shot, which automatically takes a picture when a person smiles; Panorama, which stitches together three photos shot from left to right; Intelligent shot, which automatically adjusts the white balance and color saturation based on the surrounding EnVironment; and finally Dual Display mode, which turns on the external display so you can take self-portraits. As for photo quality, it is good, but not great. Images are quite sharp, but colors are not as vibrant as we would like and seemed overcast at times.

The LG EnV3 takes good but not great photos.

There's also a built-in camcorder, which can record in two resolutions (320x240 and 176x144) in two lengths--short 30-second ones for multimedia messages, or an hour or so for saving. Video quality was predictably shaky and blurry, but it's OK for a quick video clip for sharing on Facebook or YouTube.

You have plenty of personalization options with the EnV3. You can adjust the wallpaper, display themes, alert tones, and more. You can download more via the Verizon online store. The EnV3 comes with games like Ms. Pac-Man and Tetris Pop, and you can download more via the Verizon store as well.

We tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900; EV-DO) LG EnV3 in San Francisco using Verizon Wireless. Call quality was impressive on the whole. Callers said our voices came through loud and clear with no static or interference. Voice quality was good as well--they sounded full and natural, almost like that of a landline phone. Even on the speakerphone, callers couldn't tell a difference in sound quality. Similarly, automated calling systems recognized our commands just fine. On our end, callers sounded very good as well, without any static interference. Even the speakerphone calls sounded good, with plenty of volume.

Audio quality from the LG EnV3's built-in stereo speakers was pretty good. The volume was definitely loud enough, but the bass was lacking and it didn't sound as full as we would like. We would definitely recommend using a wired or stereo Bluetooth headset instead if you want to listen to music.

We were pleased overall with the EV-DO speeds. V Cast videos took around 15 seconds to load with little buffering time, and loading a full and complex Web page like CNET's front page took around 30 seconds. Downloading a 1.5 MB song took around 50 seconds. The V Cast videos didn't have the best video quality, though; they seemed rather choppy and pixelated, especially with action sequences. Still, this is more the fault of the V Cast streaming service than the phone itself.

The LG EnV3 has a rated battery life of 5.45 hours talk time and 19.1 days standby time. It has a tested talk time of 4 hours and 19 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the EnV3 has a digital SAR of 1.34 watts per kilogram.

CNET is published by CBS Interactive, a unit of CBS.

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