Phone Arena first brought to light images of the new enV2 device (a.k.a. VX9100) back in February. We got most of the information prior to the official announcement here at CTIA, so most die-hard Verizon followers are already in the know. For the rest – here is the scoop.
The most notable changes are in the design. The new enV2 is a whole 0.6 inches shorter, and only about 0.1 inches wider, while the thickness is also slightly reduced. The weight has gone down from 4.6 oz to 4.2 oz. As we like to say – great success!
The design language has also changed. The enV2 definitely looks a lot more contemporary with the silver trim around the front! The large camera hump on the back is gone, and instead LG has replaced it with a small window with protective glass on top of it, under which is the camera lens. Around it again is the very stylish silver trim. The entire back also has the same soft-touch coating that is used on the Voyager.
The front features a newly designed dialpad with larger buttons than on the enV, as well as replacing the standard 5-way navigational D-pad with more simplistic Up & Down arrow buttons. There still is a small display on top, but it now has a rectangular shape.
Opening the phone reveals the increased main display – from 2” to 2.4”. The image quality was good (QVGA), but as this device is a pre-release version, we will not comment on it. The stereo speakers have kept their position around the display, and according to the VZW rep, they are now louder.
Decreasing the length of the device has of course led to smaller real estate, so the full QWERTY keypad is now shorter, thus all the keys are slightly narrower compared to the ones on the enV. During our testing, this did not appear to be a problem whatsoever – typing was very easy and error free.
Redesigned is the internal D-pad, located on the right side of the QWERTY. On the enV, it was partitioned from the rest of the keypad, while in the enV2 the separation is gone. This is more of a cosmetic change and it did not increase or decrease the D-pad's overall usefulness. The orange E-Mail button located on the top-left is now replaced with the same Fn key that is used on the Voyager.
microSDHC memory slot on the right, which now supports memory cards up to 8GB. Above it is the 2.5mm headset jack. The volume buttons and the dedicated camera one are located on the other side.
The actual functionality or features have not changed a lot. The expectation was to have a full HTML browser included (like the one in Voyager) , but this did not happen.
As we reported a while ago, the enV2 will come with four themes. The only thing different since our report in February are the names of the last two, now being called Wall and Wave, instead of LG Theme 1 and LG Theme 2.
Another inovation is the customizable MY SHORTCUTS menu, which is invoked by a press of the internal d-pad’s right-arrow key.
Overall, the changes in the design are substantial and will definitely bring a lot to the total success of the enV2. Still, the lack of an HTML browser in a contemporary phone could be considered a drawback, but at least existing Verizon customers will not be required to change calling plans.
CTIA: Hands-on with LG enV2
The Vu is one of the most interesting phones announced at the show. Some may consider it as “yet another iPhone wannabe” but it has been expected by the fans for months, as it is the first to bring PRADA-like form-factor and software to the U.S. market. Alltel’s GLIMMER also employs this User Interface, but is with Shine-like design, meaning it is a slider instead of a candybar – not so iPhone-like. The Dare for Verizon (still not announced), is very similar in design to the Vu , but unfortunately it will use another software, as the Voyager and the Glyde.
When compared to the Cupertino music phone, the Vu clearly shows it is not a direct rival. Well, it has a 3-inch 240x400 pixels touch display, occupying its front side and also is a “full touch phone”, but its main purpose is TV instead of music playback. It is the first AT&T phone to support Qualcomm's MediaFlo technology, which is behind the mobile TV services of both the #1 and #2 U.S. carriers. AT&T will launch it in May and in the beginning, it will have the 8 current channels (CBS, Comedy Central, ESPN, MTV, FOX, NBC, NBC News, Nickelodeon), plus 2 exclusive ones. Pricing has not been announced, yet. The TV feature was demonstrated at the show, delivering perfect image quality, both, with and without using the retractable antenna. It is necessary only if you are in an area with fringed TV signal.
CTIA: Hands-on with LG Vu
For those not in one of the 53 cities with MediaFlo coverage, AT&T will offer the TV-less Vu, code-named CU915. The CU920 is the one with TV and with retractable antenna.
Similar to the iPhone though, it is not really limited to one thing, but is positioned more as an all-in-one device. It has a full HTML internet browser, which visualizes large pages as on a computer. Well, the whole browsing experience is not as brilliant as on the iPhone’s Safari, but the HSDPA support will leave “the best iPOD” behind when it comes to Internet speed. One can expect that the whole page cannot fit the screen, due to its relatively low resolution (400x240 pixels in landscape mode). This isn’t really a problem for the iPhone where you can fit the whole page (zoom out) with a couple of clicks and enlarge the desired area again with no effort. However, it is a problem with the LG phones … you cannot pan around, but must scroll via the small on-screen buttons.
As we’ve mentioned above, the Vu has the same user interface as the European models PRADA and Viewty. Of course, AT&T slightly personalized the whole thing, but most of it is kept the same; for example, both the homescreen and the first page of the main menu house shortcuts to the Mobile TV. We like this interface because the functionality is divided into four tabs (phone, multimedia, organizer, settings) and it is easy to find what you need. Yet, it looks pretty.
Unlike iPhone and Samsung’s phones using the Croix interface, when it comes to text input, LG offers you plenty of options: from virtual 12-key numpad, to a landscape oriented QWERTY, to handwriting recognition. For single-handed usage, the combination of the numpad and T9 is most suitable, delivering experience similar to that of a normal phone. The QWERTY, is our favorite for a longer text, with large keys that make it as good as the bad hardware ones.