Because the VX8000 is a relatively large mobile, the navigation controls are well spaced. There's a five-way toggle that's preprogrammed with shortcuts to the Get Pix And Flix menu, the WAP 2.0 browser, the Get It Now menu, and the calendar. Flanking the navigation toggle are six buttons; the top two (on the left and right) are soft keys, while below the left soft key is the Clear/speakerphone button. When entering text, the Clear button serves as a Delete key, and in menus, it serves as a Back button. To activate the speakerphone, you simply hold down the corresponding button. Thankfully, with the VX8000, you can activate the speakerphone before as well as during a call. Below those keys is the Send button, under the right soft key is a dedicated camera/camcorder button, and below that is the End key. The VX8000's various keypad buttons are backlit in blue and amply spaced. Also, since the keypad buttons are slightly raised, it's easy to dial by feel.
When the phone is open, you also can activate the camera with the dedicated button on the right side. Once the camera application is launched, hitting it again switches over to the camcorder application. While we understand the need to easily be able to switch between the still and video cameras, we continually hit the camera button, expecting it to behave like a shutter. The only way to take a photo (or start and stop recording with the camcorder) is by pressing the OK button.In addition to its myriad multimedia features, the LG VX8000 sports a ton of basics, including a 500-contact phone book that stores up to five numbers and two e-mail addresses per name. Additionally, you can assign a picture to each contact for photo caller ID as well as one of the 20 polyphonic ring tones. The handset also has a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, three-way calling, a calendar, one-minute voice memos (you can save a maximum of 30), a tip calculator, an alarm clock, a WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser, a notepad, a calculator, and a world clock. Being a fairly high-end mobile, the VX8000 boasts a plethora of communication options, including text, multimedia, and instant messaging through AOL, MSN, and Yahoo. That said, we wish the handset included Bluetooth support or, at the very least, an infrared or USB port. As a result, you'll have to rely on Verizon's multimedia messaging to send pictures. Similarly, while the mobile has an MP3 player, you'll have to pay to download any files.
The V Cast service is $15 per month for unlimited access to V Cast videos. Content includes On Demand video and music and 3D games from such channels as MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, News Corporation, and 20th Century Fox. Both the network and the service are now available in 30 markets nationwide, but burgs such as Cleveland, Seattle, Denver, St. Louis, San Francisco, and Charlotte have been left out for now. There's no word from Verizon on when these not-so-backwoods cities will be added. The phone can be personalized with a variety of wallpaper, themes, and sounds. More can be downloaded from Verizon's Get It Now service, along with ring tones and games (the handset comes with no titles).We tested the dual-band (1.9GHz, 800MHz, CDMA) LG VX8000 in San Francisco using Verizon Wireless. Call quality was good, and we had no problem getting a signal. At the time of this writing, Verizon Wireless has yet to roll out EVDO support in our area. Data speeds on the EV-DO network are promised between 300Kbps to 500Kbps, which is on a par with the UMTS network rolled out by AT&T Wireless and well above 1xRTT. Because data service was not yet available in our area, we were unable to test the feature, but check back soon for a full report on the service. Being a multimedia headset, the LG's included stereo headphones were pretty good. Callers remarked that call quality was clear using the headphones and the speakerphone, and while they could tell that we were on a mobile, the calls were nonetheless clear.
Battery life was about average. We fell a half hour short of the rated talk time of 4.5 hours, but we met the promised standby time of 7.7 days. According to the FCC, the LG VX8000 has a digital SAR rating of 0.86 watts per kilogram.