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LG VX8700 (Verizon Wireless) review: LG VX8700 (Verizon Wireless)

Despite the design focus of the VX8700, the powerful multimedia features were equally impressive. This is a welcome change from design-centric phones like the LG Chocolate that were all beauty and hardly any brains. First, let's start with the phone's basics. The VX8700's phone book can hold as many as 1,000 contacts, with room in each entry for five phone numbers and two e-mail addresses. You can then save the contacts to groups and customize each entry with an assigned photo for caller ID or 1 of 18 polyphonic ringtones. Other simple features include text and multimedia messaging, instant messaging (AIM, MSN, and Yahoo IM), speed dialing, a vibrate mode, a calendar, a calculator, an alarm clock, a world clock, a notepad, a tip calculator, and a speakerphone. The VX8700 comes with a few advanced features such as voice recording, voice command and dialing, e-mail, a wireless Web browser, stereo Bluetooth support, EV-DO support, the ability to be used as a USB mass-storage device, and built-in GPS. The latter supports Verizon's location-based services including VZ Navigator and Chaperone.

Of course, with EV-DO speeds under its belt, the VX8700 is able to support Verizon's V Cast Music and V Cast Video with aplomb. With V Cast Music, you can download songs to your PC for 99 cents each and then upload them to the phone via a USB cable, or you can choose to purchase songs over-the-air for $1.99 each, which can be then downloaded to your phone and your PC for the same price. Unfortunately, the VX8700 does not come with a USB cable, music software, or microSD card. As with most Verizon V Cast phones, you'll have to pony up an additional $30 for a Music Essentials Kit that includes the software and the USB cable. This is a quite an annoying oversight on the part of Verizon, as it incurs additional costs. That said, the music player supports both WMA and MP3 files, and it includes playlists and a handy shuffle mode. Also, the VX8700 comes with a headset adapter which you can attach to a pair of your favorite earbuds. On the video side, V Cast Video provides access to a wide range of on-demand mobile video content, from music videos to short video clips of movie trailers or TV shows. Please refer to our review of the V Cast service for more information.

The LG VX8700 took great photos.

One of the most outstanding features on the VX8700 is its 2-megapixel camera. You can choose from up to four different resolutions (1,600x1,200, 1,280x960, 640x480, 320x240 pixels), adjust the white balance and the brightness, set a self-timer, choose from three shutter sounds or a silent option, and select one of five color effects. Other camera settings include a night mode plus the option of saving to the internal memory or to a microSD card. Photo quality was simply stunning for a camera phone, with rich colors and vivid detail. The phone comes with a built-in image editor, which you can use to rotate, crop, or zoom in on photos.

There's also a camcorder, with settings that include the choice of two resolutions (320x240 and 178x144) and editing options that are similar to that of the still camera. Recording time varies from 30 seconds for multimedia messages to an hour or more depending on how much space you have on your microSD card. Video quality was predictably shaky and grainy, but it was still acceptable for a camera phone. One neat thing you can do with the video is set the video as wallpaper, essentially making your own animated background.

You have a wide choice of personalization options with the LG VX8700. You can purchase and download additional alerts, ringtones, graphics, wallpaper, themes, and screensavers from Verizon's Get It Now service. You can also download games and applications, which is a good thing since there are none included with the phone.

We tested the dual-band dual-mode (CDMA 800/1900; EV-DO) LG VX8700 in San Francisco using Verizon's service. We were quite impressed with the call quality, and callers also reported the same thing on their end. Voices sound crisp and clear with little distortion. The sound quality of the speakerphone was pretty good as well, though a bit tinny at times. As for the EV-DO service, we were satisfied with the download speeds; it took us about 20 seconds to download a song, and loading Web pages only took a couple of seconds. We did experience a lower-quality performance with the streaming video however. Clips paused for rebuffering a few times, and some of the videos appeared a little too pixelated for our liking.

We paired the LG VX8700 with the Plantronics Pulsar 260 headset without a hitch. We used the stereo Bluetooth headset to listen to music as well and were very pleased with the audio quality. Songs sounded bright with just the right amount of bass. Listening to the songs via the internal speakers was less than satisfactory due to the tinny sound, but it wasn't terrible either.

The LG VX8700 has a rated battery talk time of 3.3 hours and a rated standby time of 10 days. We got a talk time of 3 hours, 54 minutes in our tests. According to FCC radiation tests, the LG VX8700 has a digital SAR rating of 1.13 watts per kilogram.

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