LG VX8550 Chocolate ReviewLG VX8550 6.1
Interface, Phone book, Tools:
There are 3 Menu Themes to choose from: Classic, Rhythm & Blues, and Rock & Roll. The Classic theme is the standard black & green, where the Rhythm & Blues and Rock & Roll are new FlashUI themes, and are different than the themes used on the VX8500. We are pleased that the new FlashUI themes have a cleaner looks and are faster and more responsive. The menus are still categorized into the same sections: My Music, Get it Now, Messaging, Contacts, Recent Calls, and Settings & Tools.
Located in the Settings & Tools menu, there are a few new options to choose from. Under the Touch Keypad submenu, you can change the sensor level, turn the clicking sound on and off, and turn the new Vibration feature on and off. With the Vibration turned on, any time you press the touch-sensitive keys (left & right soft key, speakerphone, clear), the phone will give a slight vibration feedback. After using this for a few minutes, the vibration feedback started to become annoying, so we turned it off.
Under the Navigational Wheel submenu there are options for Speed (High, Medium, Low), Sound (On, Off), and Light (Trace Motion, Power On/Off, Incoming Calls). We tried all three Wheel Speed settings, but it did not change the fact the metal wheel itself is difficult to move. This is because the metal does not grip well to your skin, so you have move your thumb in a circular motion several times before it starts to work. We believe this Navigational Wheel was a good idea, but it is functionally useless. It is much easier to just press and click the top, bottom, left, and right areas of the wheel to make your selections. The Light options allow you to change how the LED lights around the wheel function. For incoming calls, it can alternate between red and blue (classic), turn blue in a circular motion (jazz), flash red and blue at the same time (rock), or be turned off.
Contacts feature is identical to the one of the VX8500, except it now allows up to 1000 contacts to be saved instead of only 500, but is still limited to 99 Speed Dial Locations.
Tools include Voice Commands, Calculator, Calendar, Alarm Clock, Stopwatch, Notepad, and Ez Tip Calculator.
The Internal Memory on the VX8550 is divided into two sections. The first section is capable of holding up to 82MB, but 17MB is use by the phones programming. This section is used to save and store V Cast information, Videos, Pictures, My Ringtones, My Sounds, Text & Picture Messages, and Applications. The second section of Internal Memory is 66MB and is dedicated to only storing music (such as downloaded from V Cast Music store, or uploaded from your computer to the phone).
Text and Picture Message will allow more messages to be stored in the Inbox and Outbox, but still lacks the ability of speech-to-text dictation, so you have to use T9 input.
Bluetooth remains unchanged expect for the addition of Auto Pair Handsfree option. This will allow the phone to automatically pair with a Bluetooth headset when turned on. The following Bluetooth Profiles are supported: Headset, Handsfree, DUN, Stereo A2DP, AVRC, Phonebook, Basic Printing, Object Push, File Transfer, and Basic Imaging.
Mobile Web still uses the same WAP 2.0 browser, and applications are downloaded using Get it Now. VZ Navigator now comes preinstalled, but still requires a $9.99 monthly access fee.
MP3 playback on the VX8550 operates in similar fashion as the previous VX8500, but the quality of the music playback has been improved. First, you must copy your MP3 files from your computer to the My_Music directory on the MicroSD card. After the card is inserted into the phone, you can press the Music button located on the right side, or go into the Main Menu and select My Music. The music is categorized by Songs, Playlists, Artists, Genres, and Albums. You can also select two music playback visual themes (Blue and Magenta). Once the music begins playback, the screen will display the current song information (CD name, Artists, Track Name and Number, and Playback Time). You can use the navigational pad to Play/Pause, Rewind/Skip-Back, and Fast-Forward/Skip-Ahead. The VX8550 also includes 12 Sound Effect equalizer settings (Flat, Concert Hall, Rock, Jazz, POP, Classical, Acoustic, Dance, Piano, R&B, Hip-Hop, and Electronic). Each sound effect will alter the music playback in different way. For example, the Concert Hall setting will add a slight echo (reverb) to the music. Between all the sound effect choices, we found that the Hip-Hop setting worked best with a wide variety of music. When we first started the music playback (Flat was selected by default) we noticed that the music was not that loud, even though the volume was turned up to High (Level 15). But after selecting the Hip-Hop sound effect, the volume was louder and the sound quality was improved. Overall, we feel that the music playback on the VX8550 is better than the original Chocolate. The speaker is larger, which eliminates the distortion at high volumes, and the sound quality is improved. You can also playback music while using other features of the phone (web, text message, etc). Unfortunately, the speaker is still located on the back, which means you must flip the phone over for the music not to sound muffled. The best option would be to use a Stereo Bluetooth A2DP device.
Another nice area of improvement is the Camera quality, yet it is still limited to 1.3MP resolution and lacks a flash. The camera on the original VX8500 has problems with the Automatic White Balance, which would cause images taken outside to have a blue tint to them. Images were lacking in color and detail, and there was significant purple fringing. We are glad to see that most of these issues have been resolved with the VX8550. However, the image quality is still behind that of the enV, Maxx Ve, and A990. We would seriously encourage LG to incorporate a higher Mega-Pixel AutoFocus Camera with Flash in the next version on the Chocolate…if there is one.
- Resolution: 1280x960, 640x480, 320x240
- Self Timer: Off, 3 sec, 5 sec, 10 sec
- White Balance: Auto, Sunny, Cloudy, Fluorescent, Glow
- Shutter Sound: Shutter, No Sound, Say Cheese, Ready 123
- Color Effects: Normal, Negative, Solari, Sepia, B&W
- Night Mode: On, Off
- Save Option: Internal, External
- Photometry: Average, Spot
- Preview: Actual View, Full Screen
Video capturing on the phone remains the same. The resolution is limited to 176x144, and the maximum recordable time it 1 Hour, yet we doubt anyone will use this phone to record 1 hour of video.
The RF Reception remains about the same, yet we did find the Call Quality in the earpiece speaker to be better than from the previous model. There was also noticeably less noise and distortion when the volume was raised to the highest setting. To activated the Speakerphone, you must first press and hold the SPK button for 3 seconds. This will display message saying, “Speakerphone will turn off after 1 minute of inactivity.” After the speakerphone is turned on, you can then dial the number, but after the phone call is ended, the speakerphone is automatically disabled. We would rather have the speakerphone remain active until it is manually turned off. This way, you don’t have to constantly turn it on for each call. The quality of the speakerphone is greatly improved over the vx8500 and thankfully lacks the distorted sound.
LG rates the VX8550 to be capable of 4Hr of Talk time, where the VX8500 has 3.5Hr of Talk time. However, we were only able to achieve 3Hr on the VX8550 and 2.5Hr on the VX8500. So it appears that LG is inflating the published times by one hour.
We are overall pleased with most of the changes that have been incorporated into the new VX8550. The phone has a more stylish look to it and weighs slightly less. The Touch-Sensitive Navigational Pad has been replaced by a Navigational Wheel, but moving the wheel for accessing menu selections can be troublesome. Because of this, we recommend pressing the wheel in the up, down, left, and right direction. The main keypad now has the Send, End, and Camera buttons located at the top, and the Numeric buttons are now larger and easier to use. Music playback and Speakerphone quality have been improved by using a larger speaker that causes less distortion to be heard. Call Quality in the earpiece is clearer and also lacks any noticeable distortion. The Camera now produces better looking images, but still is limited to 1.3MP resolution and lacks a flash or autofocus.
The VX8550 is a definite upgrade from the original VX8500 Chocolate. If you liked the original, you will love this even more, but if you didn’t like the Chocolate, you should give the new version a try. You will be pleasantly surprised.
- Improved look and style, compared to VX8500
- Buttons are designed and laid out better
- Better camera and more memory
- 2.5mm stereo jack
- Menus are more responsive
- Moving the navigational wheel in a circle by your thumb doesn’t always work well
- No Camera Flash or AutoFocus
- Glossy Fingerprint Magnet Exterior
LG VX8550 Chocolate Review - Software and Conclusion