When AT&T Mobile TV launched two years ago, the LG Vu was one of 's launch devices for the live mobile TV service. The Vu had a lovely 3-inch display, and it even had a pull-out antenna to further amplify its television reception. Still, the design was getting long in the tooth, and we're glad to see LG and AT&T finally come out with its successor, the LG Vu Plus. The Vu Plus still offers AT&T Mobile TV, but gone is the antenna, and in comes the slide-out QWERTY keyboard. It also features an upgraded camera and 3G/HSDPA speeds. The LG Vu Plus is available for $149.99 with a new two-year service agreement.
While it looks similar to its predecessor, the Vu Plus is actually quite different. Measuring 4.31 inches long by 2.1 inches wide by 0.6 inch thick, the Vu Plus is a tad longer and thicker than the original, partially due to the sliding QWERTY keyboard. It's also a little heavier at 3.95 ounces. It's rather blocky in appearance, but it does have rounded edges for a more comfortable feel in the hand.
Like the original, the Vu Plus has a 3-inch display. We're happy to note the display is capacitive, which means it responds quickly to our finger taps. We did wish the display was made out of a sturdier glass material instead of plastic, but it worked fine for the most part. You can also add sound effects and vibration or haptic feedback to your finger taps if you want--you can adjust the length and intensity of the vibrations as well. The screen looks crisp and colorful, thanks to the 262,000 color support and the 240x400-pixel resolution. You can adjust the color and size of the fonts, the screen's brightness, and the backlight timer.
Most touch-screen feature phones allow you to customize their home screens these days, and it's no different with the Vu Plus. In fact, you get up to three customizable home screens. One screen is for your favorite contacts, one is for widgets, and one is for application shortcuts. For the widgets home screen, you can add and remove widgets from a tray along the bottom of the screen, much the same way as you would with the TouchWiz interface on a lot of Samsung phones.
Along the bottom of each home screen are shortcuts to the phone dialer, the phonebook, the messaging in-box, and the main menu. The phone dialer features a large and roomy virtual keypad with shortcuts to the speakerphone and a new text message. If you want, you can also use the virtual T9 keypad for typing out text messages, but we would rather use the physical keyboard for that. The main menu structure is similar to that of other LG touch-screen phones like the--it's divided into four categories; Phone, Multimedia, My Stuff, and Settings.
Underneath the display are three physical keys--the Talk key, the Clear/Back key, and the End/Power key. Slide the display to the right and you'll find a full four-row QWERTY keyboard. Though the keys are raised above the surface, we found we still had to use our fingernails to type since the keys are lined up so close to one another. Also, the keys felt a little stiffer than we would like. Still, we were able to type with few mistakes, and we liked that there was a dedicated .com key on the keyboard.
The volume rocker and task manager key sit on the left spine, while the microSD card slot, screen lock key, and camera key are on the right. The headset/charger jack is on the top, and the camera lens and LED flash are on the back of the phone.
The LG Vu Plus has a 1,000-entry phone book with room in each entry for six numbers, three e-mail addresses, a messenger ID, a Web address, a street address, a birth date, an anniversary date, and a memo. You can also add the entry to a caller group; add a photo for caller ID, and customize each entry with one of 20 polyphonic ringtones and alert tones.
Other essential features include a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, text and multimedia messaging, an alarm clock, a calendar, a notepad, a world clock, a tasks list, a stopwatch, a calculator, a tip calculator, and a unit converter. You also get a voice recorder, voice command, a file manager, instant messaging (AIM, Windows Live, Yahoo), GPS with AT&T Navigator, a HTML Web browser, and Bluetooth with A2DP stereo support. The Vu Plus comes with AT&T's mobile e-mail application, which lets you get e-mail from a variety of Web mail services (Gmail, Hotmail, and AOL Mail, just to name a few), and you can enter in your own provider email address, too.
The star feature of the Vu Plus, however, is support for AT&T Mobile TV, the carrier's live mobile TV service. Powered by Qualcomm's MediaFLO network, you will be able to receive the TV signal via MediaFLO's own network, so you won't have to suffer through the buffering issues typical with streaming video. You also won't get hit with data charges, since it's a separate subscription. You get more than 150 simulcast and time-shifted programs from many popular networks--they include CBS Mobile, CNN Mobile Live, ESPN, Comedy Central, Fox, MTV, NBC, and more. The service will cost you, though: it's $9.99 a month, with the first seven days free.