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LG Optimus Slider: Hands-on, images, video

The LG Optimus Slider for Virgin Mobile adds a sliding keyboard to the popular Optimus brand. CNET checks it out with our own eyes and hands at CTIA in San Diego.

Now playing: Watch this: LG Optimus Slider (Virgin Mobile)

SAN DIEGO--LG Optimus handsets here in the U.S. broke ground by proving that entry-level Android handsets need not be deprived of features. LG continues that mantra with the LG Optimus Slider, which as its name implies, adds a sliding QWERTY keyboard to the Optimus form factor.

LG Optimus Slider has, you guessed it, a sliding QWERTY keyboard.
The LG Optimus Slider has, you guessed it, a sliding QWERTY keyboard. Nicole Lee/CNET

As a result, the LG Optimus Slider is substantially thicker and bulkier than its nonsliding cousin. But to those who love to text, the cost should be worth it, as you get a very roomy four-row QWERTY keyboard in exchange. The keys are also nicely raised above the surface for easy texting, and we like that there are navigation controls on the keyboard too.

The 3.2-inch display won't set the world on fire, but it's bright and colorful enough for a prepaid handset. We do love that it ships with Android 2.3 Gingerbread (Who says prepaid phones can't get the latest firmware?) and that its interface is fairly vanilla. Sure Virgin Mobile installed a few of its apps on here--it comes with Virgin Mobile Live 2.0, for example, which is Virgin's social-networking lifestyle app--but the user interface is otherwise untouched. Other features include the usual Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, and a 3.2-megapixel camera.

Word is that the LG Optimus Slider is $199.99 without a contract, and should be available fairly soon.