Camera:

Even though the Versa and Dare share many common bonds, the camera is not one of them.  Included on the Versa is a 2MP sensor, instead of the 3.2MP sensor with higher quality Schneider Kreuznach lens used on the Dare.  The Autofocus is also a one-stop on the Versa, instead of a two-stop on the Dare (like a traditional digital camera).  Most other controls are equivalent, with icons along the bottom and side of the screen to change resolution, shooting mode, self-timer, and other adjustments.


When reviewing the images on a PC that we took with both phones, it was clear that the pictures from the Dare looked better overall.  The Versa’s images were not as clear, colors were off some, and had an occasional issue with the auto white balance.  There was also a dramatic difference with the flash, almost non-existent on the Versa, but blinding on the Dare.  If you are the type of person that uses their phone a lot to take pictures and want the best quality, then the Dare is the better choice between the two.



Both devices can record videos at 640x480 resolution, but is limited to 15 fps playback.  We recorded a video with both at that resolution, but noticed that the Dare’s video looked better.  When viewing the properties, we saw the Dare’s video had a Data Rate of 1.2 mbps, where the Versa was a lower 430 kbps.

Sample videos at 640x480 pixels resolution: LG Versa, LG Dare
* Note that due to codecs support, you may not be able to play the file.

Multimedia:

The look and feel of the Music Player has been improved upon, but still categorizes music into all songs, playlists, artists, genres, and albums.  Once the song begins playback, it will show the album art on the screen, a sliding progress bar, and buttons for rewind, pause, and fast-forward.  Missing are the equalizer effects that are found on the Dare.  Thankfully, multitasking is still supported, as you can exit the music player while the song is playing and use other features of the phone, such as the browser or messaging.  While it is in this mode, it will change the desktop wallpaper and show a drop down list at the top of the screen.  You can always exit this by closing the player.


The music quality through the rear mono speaker is adequate and equal to that of the Dare, but not as good as the stereo speakers found on the Chocolate 3 or VX8360.  You can also listen to music via Stereo Bluetooth A2DP, but we noticed a few problems.  There is some instrument distortion being produced and a high-pitch sound in the background.  We tried two different stereo Bluetooth headsets and experienced the same issue with both, but when connected to the Dare, it sounded fine as it lacked the distortion and high-pitch sound.  We hope this can be corrected in a firmware update.

Streaming Video playback is limited to Verizon's VCast Video Service, which will stream prerecord clips over their EVDO network. Quality is limited to 320x240 resolution at 15fps, with images looking somewhat pixilated.  We would like to have seen the Versa come with MobileTV service, which is on the Voyager, as it can stream live TV broadcast at higher quality.

We also tested the Versa with additional videos using a wide variety of formats, resolutions, and codecs to see what else it could play. We were able to playback MP4 H.263 and H.264 videos at 30fps from our microSD card with resolutions of 220x96, 320x136, and 320x144 in both vertical and horizontal modes, but 640x272 videos would only play in vertical mode. There was also no way to get the videos to stretch and fill the entire screen, like we could with the Omnia. The quality is good enough for playing clips on the go or to watch a full movie from your memory card.



Software:

Qualcomm’s BREW format is used for all applications on the Versa; the most useful of which being VZ Navigator.  It comes installed with the new version 4.5.1 that adds voice recognition so that you can speak the locations instead of having to type it in.  We tried this with a few addresses, and it worked a majority of the time, but occasionally streets or cities with odd names would not be recognized and we were forced to type it in.  The rest of the program remains the same, with 3D maps, traffic congestion and accident re-routing, as well as the ability to find local gas stations, restaurants, movie theaters, show times, and local events.


Three game demos come preinstalled: Monopoly, Need for Speed, and Pac-Man.  The best was Need for Speed, as it utilized the device’s accelerometer so that tilting the phone from side to side mimics the turning of a steering wheel.  Additional games can be downloaded for a fee from Verizon’s Get it Now service.

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 to visit a store and having a technician install it.  Unfortunately, the implementation of this has been slow on Verizon’s part, as there have been several updates to the Dare, but were not offered via FOTA.  We hope that Verizon starts utilizing this more on its devices, as it would save customers time from going to a store for an update.

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