LG Decoy Review

9
Introduction and Design
This is a CDMA phone offered with Verizon.
Introduction:

The LG Decoy (VX8610) for Verizon Wireless is a unique device unlike any other, by offering a detachable Bluetooth headset, located in the back of the phone. In doing so, it is targeted to the on-the-go consumer who always wants to be connected wirelessly to a headset, but also offers a convenient place for it to be stored and charged while not in use. Since this is the only device to offer this feature, it stands alone and has no true competition, except that it is a slider-style phone, similar to LG Chocolate and Venus models.

The Retail Package includes the LG Decoy phone, 800mAh battery with cover, wall charger, Bluetooth headset, separate headset charging station, cavity cover, and user manual. Unfortunately, a microUSB cable is not included and has to be purchased separately for PC connection.

Design:

Being a slider-style phone is noting new, as they have been around for a few years now, but the Decoy improves upon this with a definite update in overall styling and usability. The front has a mirror-like finish to it, but at the cost of being a fingerprint magnet, with black plastic used on the sides, and dark blue on the back. When the headset is installed, there is a definite “hump” that can be seen and felt, as it does stick out. However, once removed, the Decoy is about the same size and weight of the Venus, and can easily be slipped in your pant’s pocket without being too noticeable. Sliding the phone open is very easy, due to the strong spring mechanisms, but you can hear the plastic parts rubbing against each other. Despite this, it does appear to be well made and should hold up to every-day use.



You can compare the LG Decoy to many other phones, using PhoneArena's Visual Size Compare Tool.

The front features a 2.2” diagonal QVGA TFT display that supports up to 262K colors. However, due to the mirror-like finish, it is extremely challenging to view outside during the day since the sun is reflected into your eyes. Placing one hand over it to provide shade does allow for easier viewing. Directly below the display, are the left and right softkeys, speakerphone, and clear button. These surround the newly designed joystick d-pad located in the center. We found this approach to be very user-friendly, as your thumb can stay in once place and move the joystick up, down, left, right, and press in to select an item. Our only complaint here is that it is a little too small and should provide greater contact with your thumb.

Located on the left side is the volume rocker and microUSB port, with the 2.5mm headset jack, camera button, and microSDHC card slot on the right. The integrated 2MP camera is on the back, directly next to the docking area for the headset.


Sliding the phone open reveals the internal numeric keypad, which is black in color with white backlighting. The keys are smooth to the touch, but are cramped too closely together, which makes text messaging more difficult for people with larger hands, yet they do produce a noticeable “click” sound when pressed. For those who message a lot, a better option would be the enV2, since it features a full QWERTY keyboard.



LG Decoy Video Review:

LG Decoy 360 Degrees View



Interface:

Pressing in on the center joystick will display the updated User Interface, which is categorized into contacts, messaging, recent calls, calculator, media center, E-Mail, mobile IM, VZ Navigator, and settings & tools. By default, the icons are shown in a 3x3 Grid layout, but can be changed to Tab and List viewing. There are a total of four themes included (Classic, Slick Black, Decoy Blue, and Decoy Black), with each one changing the color of the icons and the main menu background. Regardless as to which theme or layout you use, they all have a fast response time with very little delay.

Phonebook:

The Phonebook is standard Verizon fair, with up to 1000 contacts being able to be stored, each with their name, mobile 1, home, work, E-Mail 1, group, picture, Ringtone, Mobile 2, Fax, and E-Mail 2. After a contact is saved, you can assign them to one of 999 speed-dial locations. Accessing a saved contact is as simple as pressing the Right Soft Key, which will display them in alphabetical order. At the bottom of the screen, you can type in the first or last name of a contact in the “Go To” field, and it will automatically search through your list. This saves time, instead of scrolling through pages of names to locate the one to call.

Voice dialing is accomplished by using the speaker-independent voice command feature, which can be activated by pressing the “Mic” button on the dialpad, or the “Phone” button on the Bluetooth headset (when turned on). Available choices are call name or number, send message to name or number, go to menu, check item, contact name, my account, and help. The most useful of these is the call name or number, which allows you to speak the name of a stored contact or the digits for the phone to dial. Even tough we didn’t experience any problems with the voice commands when communicating through the phone directly; it did have problems understanding our voice through the included Bluetooth headset. We ended up having to train the digits and words through the headset, which did alleviate most of the errors.

Organizer:

While at the home screen, the Calendar is accessed by moving the joystick in the down direction, causing the display to show the current month with the date highlighted. You can then use the joystick to move around and select any month or day, or type in a date directly by pressing the right softkey for the Options menu. Once a desired date is selected, you can add multiple events with each including the subject, start time, end time, repeat (once, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly), until, alerts, tone, and vibrate. After an alert is saved, it will notify you of the event by playing the designated tone and by displaying the alert information on the screen.


Separate from the calendar are three independent alarms, with each one allowing you to select the time, repeat (once, daily, mon-fri, weekends), and ringtone. This is an easy way to setup a daily wake-up alarm or notification if it takes place within 24 hours.

The Decoy comes with 65MB of internal memory, with 15MB used out of the box, leaving only 50MB to the consumer. Fortunately, the device supports microSDHC memory cards up to 8GB in size to allow additional room for storing MP3 files, pictures, and videos. However, any applications or games must be downloaded and saved using the phone’s internal memory.

Another feature is the support of Verizon’s FOTA (firmware over the air). This will allow customers to download the latest firmware for the phone without the need for visiting a store and having a technician install it. This is a valuable time-saver for both consumers and employees and we are pleased to see it starting to be implemented on more devices. We tested the FOTA, but since our Decoy has the latest firmware (V01), it did not download or install any updates.



Messaging:

Due to the lack of a QWERTY keyboard, the Decoy’s primary function isn’t a messaging device, but you can still send and receive text, picture, and video messages, as well as connect through Mobile IM (AIM, Windows Live, Yahoo) and Mobile E-Mail.  Messages have to be entered using the numeric keypad with T9 predictive entry, which can be difficult for people with large hands since the keys are small and close together.  The Mobile E-Mail application costs $5 per month and will allow you to connect to Yahoo Mail, Windows Live Mail, AOL, AIM, and Verizon.net, as well as being able to configure it to connect to any POP or IMAP server.  We had no problems using the application and were able to view most incoming e-mails, except that HTML ones and attachments are not supported.  This is to be expected, as this is a basic application and is not as advanced as the ones found on smartphone.

Connectivity:

The Decoy is a dual band all-digital device that operates on the 800MHz and 1900MHz CDMA Verizon Wireless network.  Non-voice data, such as Web and E-mail, are transmitted using the 3G EVDO network, but it is limited to EVDO Rev 0 speeds instead of the faster Rev A.

Bluetooth is one of the main selling features of the Decoy due to the built in headset.  It connects to the docking port on the back, and can easily be detached by pressing the release button on the top.  Once removed, there is a noticeable hole, but an included plastic cover can be snapped into place, thus covering the hole and giving a more aesthetically pleasing look.  Pairing to the headset is done through a Wizard, which provides step-by-step instructions.  Once completed, you are ready to use the headset.


It is remarkably small and lightweight, and fits easily inside the ear canal.  Located on the top is the volume rocker and a flashing blue “phone” icon on the side for answering/ending calls and using voice commands.  At first, we were quite pleased with its design, as it was comfortable and not too noticeable.  We placed several test calls to people on landline phones, and they immediately said that our voice sounded like we were talking in a tunnel with a slight echo.  Since everyone we called noticed this, we turned off the headset and used the Decoy directly.  Once that was done, people said the “tunnel” and “echo” effect were gone, and that our voice sounded clearer and easier to understand.  We also tested the headset in a car going highway speeds of 65MPH.  Due to the engine and wind noise, we could hardly hear through the headset, even though the volume was turned up to high.  Callers on the other end said they could hear a lot of background noise from the car.  Once we opened a window, they could not hear us at all, due to the lack of noise-canceling system (DSP).  The final problem we experienced was that the headset could easily fall out of the ear.  Some people may not encounter this problem, but the lack of optional earbuds doesn’t mean that one size fits all.  While walking outside, in a mall, or driving a car, every few minutes it would fall out, regardless of how many ways we tried to use it.  This, combined with the voice quality problems, was very disappointing and led us to stop using the headset after a few days.  Since the integrated headset is the Decoy’s most unique feature, and with it being this problematic, we believe that you are better off using a higher quality one that offers better voice quality, noise-canceling DSP, and does not fall off your ear.

It also offers the ability to be charged along with the phone, when the wall charger is connected, or can be charged separately using its own base station with microUSB connector.  Other standard features of the Decoy include the ability to pair with up to 20 devices, using Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, and supports the following profiles: headset, hands-free, dial-up, networking, advanced audio distribution (stereo), phone book access, basic printing, object push for vCard and vCalendar, file transfer, and basic imaging.

Internet browsing is limited to the same WAP 2.0 browser that is used on all Verizon non-smart phones.  It will connect to Verizon’s Mobile Web service and provide information based on News, Entertainment, Sports, and Weather.  There is also an address bar to enter in other WAP and HTTP sites.  While in an EVDO coverage area, most WAP site will load in under 5 seconds, with HTML sites taking 30 seconds or longer, but they will not format correctly for the screen, and will often times show an “Out of memory” error message.  Due the limitations of the WAP browser, we cannot recommend the Decoy for people that need to view full HTML sites regularly.  The LG Voyager, Dare, or an actual smartphone would do that job better.




Camera:

The Decoy features a 2MP camera, similar to the one used on the enV2.  Pictures taken outside were remarkably good, with excellent color reproduction, sharp edges, accurate white balance, and are almost identical to the ones taken by the enV2.  Indoor pictures are more problematic, with images looking softer and showing more grain.  Low light images are nearly impossible to take, due to the lack of a flash, but it does offer a Night Mode that slows down the shutter speed. However, in doing so, most pictures will come out blurry.



Camera Options:

  • Resolution:  1600x1200, 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, Aqua, Sepia, B&W
  • Night Mode: On, Off
  • Save Options: Internal, External (memory card)
  • Photometry:  Average, Spot
  • Preview:  Actual View, Full Screen

Videos can be recorded at maximum of 320x240 resolution, and with the length up to 1 hour when a memory card is installed.  Watching a recorded video on the phone is best, due to the smaller screen size.  Once they are transferred to a PC, you can see how low quality they are, but are still good enough for posting them on YouTube.

Multimedia:

The Music Player is outdated and is identical to the one used on most Verizon devices.  Despite the limited software, it is relatively easy to use and categorizes music into Genres, Artists, Albums, Songs, and Playlists.  Once a song is selected and begins playback, it will display the track information on the screen.  Music quality is mediocre, lacking in bass, and does not seem to get as loud as from other phones.  You can use the included mono Bluetooth headset to listen to music, or use a higher quality stereo Bluetooth device or wired earbuds connected to the 2.5mm headset jack.



Software:

As with all Verizon non-smartphones, the Decoy uses Qualcomm’s BREW format for applications.  One of the most useful is VZ Navigator, which is used for GPS guided directions.  It comes with the new Version 4 preinstalled, which allows for new 3D maps, traffic congestion and accident re-routing, as well as the ability to find local gas stations, restaurants, movie theaters and show times, and local events.  We were able to use VZ Navigator around South FL without problem.  The updated 3D maps are easy to follow and are more professional looking than previous versions.  We believe that this application is well worth the $10 per month price. 

No games are preloaded on the Decoy, but can be purchased and download over the air directly from Verizon.



Performance:

The reception on the Decoy was excellent as we were able to place and receive calls in around South FL and in fringe areas without dropping a signal.  Call quality through the earpiece speaker was also quite good, and lacked any background noise or interference.  People we called on a landline also agreed that our voice sounded clear and was lacking any interference.  However, once we used the Bluetooth headset, they reported that our voice sounded like we were talking in a tunnel and had an echo.  Using the headset in a car was useless, as neither end could hear due to the amount of noise.

The included 800mAh battery is rated by LG to have 3 hours and 50 minutes of talk time or a little over 13 days of standby time on a full charge.  During our testing, we were able to achieve 3 hours and 40 minutes of continuous talk time by fully charging the battery, dialing a landline, and keeping the Decoy connected until the battery was depleted. 

Conclusion:

Despite the Decoy being an overall attractive device and offering numerous amenities, its single fault lays with its most distinguishing feature: the integrated Bluetooth headset.  Conversely, this is the feature that draws customers to it, especially in states that mandate headset use while driving.  Unfortunately, its quality is poor and is more of a joke to anyone who has used a more high-end headset.  Because of this, we would only recommend the Decoy to those who are drawn by its looks and features, and suggest that they purchase a better quality headset, one which they will be happier with.



Pros

  • Sliding form factor
  • 2.2” QVGA display
  • Joystick d-pad
  • Excellent reception and call quality (while not using the headset)
  • Supports up to 8GB microSDHC memory cards
  • 2MP camera

Cons

  • Poor voice quality when using included Bluetooth headset
  • Reflective surface around the display
  • WAP browser
  • Texting is difficult
  • Does not include a microUSB data cable
  • No flash for the camera

PhoneArena Rating:

7.0

User Rating:

8.5
27 Reviews

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