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LG Incite CT810 (AT&T) review: LG Incite CT810 (AT&T)

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7.3

LG Incite CT810 (AT&T)

The Good

The LG Incite is an attractive touch-screen phone with Windows Mobile 6.1. Features include a whole host of productivity and multimedia features like Microsoft ActiveSync, Office Mobile, and a 3-megapixel camera. It offers both Wi-Fi and HSDPA connectivity. Call quality was good.

The Bad

The LG Incite has rather sluggish performance, and we weren't always pleased with the touch interface. We also think the surface can be a bit too reflective, and we don't like that the stylus isn't built-in.

The Bottom Line

Though we weren't pleased with LG Incite's design quirks, we think that overall, it's a very good first entry in the U.S. smartphone market.

Despite LG's long history in the U.S. cell phone market, it has yet to introduce a true smartphone here like it has in other countries (For example, the LG KS20 is Europe-only). Sure we've seen high-end LG phones like the LG Voyager and the LG Dare, but they're not exactly made for business use. That has all come to an end, however, as LG has finally introduced the LG Incite, LG's first-ever U.S. smartphone. Equipped with Windows Mobile 6.1, the Incite is loaded with a host of multimedia and productivity features that will please both consumers and mobile professionals. And thanks to its support for both AT&T's HSDPA and Wi-Fi, it will satisfy your need for speed as well. The LG Incite is available now at the affordable price of $199.99 with a two-year service agreement with AT&T.

Design
Measuring 4.21 inches long by 2.2 inches wide by 0.55 inch thick, the LG Incite is one of the shiniest handsets we've ever seen; its display is reflective when idle, similar to the one on the LG Shine, and the Incite's entire chassis has a mirror finish. You will definitely have a tough time trying to get fingerprint smudges off the phone, and there's no need for a self-portrait mirror next to the camera, as the handset's surface itself can act as a mirror. Like most touch-screen handsets, the Incite has a minimalist appeal: it is sleek and slim, with few external controls. It's also quite lightweight at 4.23 ounces, so it won't weigh you down, either.


The LG Incite has a really reflective surface.

Following the lead of other touch-screen smartphones like the Samsung Omnia and the HTC Touch, the LG Incite's design is dominated by the large touch screen on the front. The 3-inch diagonal screen is a 240x400-pixel resolution QVGA display with support for 262,000 colors, which makes for vibrant colors and sharp images. It doesn't have the screen real estate of other handsets like the Samsung Instinct or the Apple iPhone 3G, but that's only really an issue when it comes to the Web browser (which we'll get to later). You can adjust the screen's backlight time plus the font size. Because the display is so reflective, we have to say it can be a little tough to read the screen under direct sunlight.

The touch screen on the Incite has haptic tactile feedback, which lets you know, using vibrations, that your touch has registered. You can adjust the sensitivity of the touch response as well as the length and strength of the vibrations. Since the touch screen is resistive, you can use either your finger or the provided stylus to navigate through the screen. We found the touch screen to be mostly responsive, but we did notice some problems with lag; sometimes it takes about half a second for a touch to register, which is a little longer than we would like. We also found that we needed to be very precise in selecting something with the finger, lest we tap the wrong thing. The Incite does come with the aforementioned stylus for more accurate tapping, but we're not fans of having the stylus dangling off the corner of the phone. (You attach the stylus like you would a cell phone charm via a small lanyard.)

The LG Incite also has a built-in accelerometer, and the screen will change from portrait to landscape mode when you rotate the phone 90 degrees to either the left or the right. Here again we noticed some lag issues. It occasionally takes about a second for the screen to fully rotate, which can be quite annoying. The Incite also has a proximity sensor, which shuts off the screen when you bring it to the side of your face, so as to prevent accidental taps. We also like that the Incite automatically adjusts the screen's luminance depending on the surrounding light.

Since the Incite is a full touch-screen phone, you'll have to learn to enter in text via the touch screen. In portrait mode, the keyboard is displayed in the style of a SureType keyboard similar to the one on the BlackBerry Pearl, with two letters per key. Though we don't mind entering text this way, we definitely prefer having a full QWERTY keyboard for easier typing. For that, you can rotate the phone 90 degrees either to the left or the right, and the screen will automatically shift from portrait to landscape mode. The keyboard will then change to a full QWERTY keyboard.


In landscape mode, the full QWERTY keyboard covers up about 90 percent of the LG Incite's screen, leaving little room to see what we're typing.

We like the size of the virtual keys; they're big and easy to read. We also like the responsiveness of the virtual keyboard, but bear in mind our caveat earlier about having to use precise taps. The Incite does have autocorrect features, so it wasn't too bad if we made a few mistakes. Another complaint is that in landscape mode, the full QWERTY keyboard covers up about 90 percent of the screen, leaving very little room at the top to see what we're actually typing. We understand this is to accommodate for larger keys, but it's still a pain, especially since the screen is already so small.

As for the user interface, it is standard Windows Mobile with a few special LG touches. The home screen, or Today screen, is typical for most Windows Mobile phones, with a display of important information like date, time, the day's calendar appointments, whether you have any new messages or e-mails, and miscellaneous items like the current weather at your location. Along the bottom are shortcuts to the dialpad, the address book, a new text message, a subdirectory of favorite applications, and the main menu. And as with most Windows Mobile phones, there is a Windows Start button to the upper left of the screen that drops down a menu of shortcuts to Office Mobile, the Calendar, Contacts, Internet Explorer, the Messaging menu, the phone dialpad, Programs, Settings, and the Help menu.

The main menu interface is where you see LG's design influence. The phone, multimedia, and productivity applications are separated via tabs on the right side. There's also a tab for settings, and at the bottom is a shortcut back to the Today screen. The phone tab is home to applications like Contacts, Recent Calls, and Messaging, while the multimedia tab has more media-related features like AT&T Music and Cellular Video. The productivity tab has more business-like applications with shortcuts to the browser, AT&T GPS, and of course Office Mobile. And the Settings tab is where you get to set things like graphics, sounds, and wireless connectivity. Bear in mind that you can't drag and drop the icons around like you can with the Samsung Omnia or the LG Dare.


The LG Incite has a 3.5mm headset jack on the top.

Underneath the screen are two keys, the Talk and End/Power keys. On the left spine are the charger jack and a volume rocker, while on the right are a dedicated camera key, a screen lock key, a microSD card slot, and a jog dial that lets you scroll through the menu and through your messages easier. On the top is a 3.5-mm headset jack, which we certainly welcome. The camera lens sits on the back of the phone.


The LG Incite has a jog dial for easier navigation, plus a microSD card slot for storage

The LG Incite comes packaged with an AC adapter, a USB cable, a stylus, a software CD, and reference material.

Features
As we mentioned, the LG Incite is LG's first U.S. smartphone, and with that comes a whole host of features you won't find in a regular phone. It runs Windows Mobile 6.1, so you get all the typical Windows Mobile features like Microsoft Office Mobile Suite, and support for Microsoft ActiveSync and Microsoft Direct Push technology that lets you sync with your Outlook calendar and e-mail via your office's Exchange server. Other e-mail options include POP3, IMAP, and Web e-mail accounts, all of which can be accessed via Xpress Mail, Windows Mobile's e-mail program. Of course there are plenty of PIM tools as well, like a task manager, a calculator, a stopwatch, a notepad, and more.

We also like that the LG Incite comes with both Wi-Fi and HSDPA support. This lets us have the option to surf within a Wi-Fi network when there isn't a strong cellular signal. The Incite comes with Internet Explorer Mobile, of course, but you also have the option of AT&T's own NetFront browser. There doesn't seem to be too many differences between the two, but we personally prefer Internet Explorer Mobile just because we're more familiar with it; your mileage may vary with this. You won't get Flash support here, but we weren't expecting that anyway. When compared with the Apple iPhone, the browser experience left us wanting, mostly because of the inability to do multitouch gestures like pinching to zoom in and out of a page.

The LG Incite is a quad-band phone with world roaming, a speakerphone, conference calling, text and multimedia messaging, voice dialing, and voice command support. The phone book is limited to available memory, with the SIM card capable of holding an additional 250 contacts. There's room in each entry for multiple numbers, e-mail addresses, instant-messaging handles, birthdays, notes, street addresses, and more. You can also assign a picture and one of four polyphonic ringtones for caller identification. As for Bluetooth, you get all the different profiles here, like a hands-free kit, object exchange, dial-up networking, and stereo Bluetooth. The LG Incite also has A-GPS support, which you can use with AT&T Navigator, AT&T's own voice guided turn-by-turn service.

Since the LG Incite supports AT&T's 3G, it also comes with support for AT&T's array of 3G services. They include AT&T's Cellular Video, which lets you watch streaming video clips from content providers like NBC and CNN, AT&T Video Share, which lets you make one-way video calls to another Video Share-compatible phone, and AT&T Mobile Music. The latter is a gateway to a whole host of music-related services, like Music ID, a song-identification service, Billboard magazine, XM radio, Pandora, and of course, the built-in music player, which happens to be Windows Media Player 10.

Windows Media Player 10 is a first for LG, but it offers the same interface we've seen on other Windows Mobile phones. You get the customizable equalizer, the ability to create and edit playlists, plus you can set it on repeat or shuffle. The Incite supports MP3, +AAC, eAAC+, EAAC+, WMA, and WMV formats for both audio and video playback. You load music onto the phone via the provided USB cable and the included software. As for storage, you do get 256MB of internal storage and additional storage in the form of microSD/SDHC cards. The Incite accepts up to 32GB cards.

Other music-related applications include a FM radio receiver. To use it, you need to attach a headset, as it uses the cord as the antenna.


The LG Incite has a 3-megapixel camera on the back.

The Incite comes with a 3-megapixel camera that can take pictures in five resolutions (2,048x1,536, 1,600x1,200, 1,024x768, 640x480, and 320x240). It has three image-quality settings, five white balance presets, and four color effects plus a no effect option; other camera options include a self-timer, the choice of three shutter sounds plus a silent option, zoom, four shot modes (Normal, Continuous, Panorama, and Frame shot), and brightness. There is no flash or autofocus, however. There's also a built-in camcorder, which can record in four resolutions (400x240, 320x240, 176x144, and 128x96) in three different modes (No Limit for however much memory is available, MMS for short video clips, and Video Share Call for live video calls). Other camcorder settings are similar to the ones on the still camera.


The LG Incite's photo quality was disappointing.

Photo quality was quite disappointing for a 3-megapixel camera. Though images seemed clear enough and we liked the camera response time, we weren't pleased with the dull colors and overcast look. We also would've preferred a little less blur.

If you want to add more graphics, sounds, applications, and games to your Incite, you can do so via AT&T's Media Mall application. The Incite comes with BlockBreaker Deluxe, Bubble Breaker, Ms. Pac-Man, Solitaire, Sudoku, Mobile Banking, My-Cast 5 Weather, and a mobile version of People magazine.

Performance
We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; EDGE/HSDPA) LG Incite in San Francisco using AT&T's service. Overall we were quite impressed with the call quality. We heard our callers loud and clear, as if we were calling from a landline. On their end, callers said the audio was good, too, but they did hear the occasional static and crackling. We also had no problems getting through an airline's voice-automated response system. The speakerphone quality was good, but audio from the speakers was on the tinny and hollow side. We were able to pair the LG Incite with the Plantronics Discovery 925 Bluetooth headset without any issues.

As we mentioned earlier in the Design section, we experienced sluggishness and lag when navigating the phone. Sometimes we would have to wait awhile for a touch to register, and sometimes it would take a few seconds for the accelerometer to kick in and finally rotate the screen. This appears to be common with Windows Mobile phones, but it was still disappointing.

As for speed, we had few problems with downtime. Since it works on both Wi-Fi and HSDPA networks, we can avoid network issues with patchy coverage areas by connecting to our own Wi-Fi network. Download speeds were fast too--we downloaded a 25MB song in about a minute, even on HSDPA. Pages loaded quickly, and we had no problems with streaming video and audio.

Audio quality of the music is decent, but nowhere near MP3 player quality. The speakers lack bass and the audio does sound blown out. We would recommend the use of a headset, and thankfully the Incite offers both a 3.5mm headset jack and stereo Bluetooth.

The LG Incite has a rated battery life of 8.7 hours talk time and 12 days standby time. Our tests revealed a talk time of 9 hours and 2 minutes. According to the FCC, it has a SAR rating of 0.73 watt per kilogram.

7.3

LG Incite CT810 (AT&T)

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 8Performance 7