This past week, LG Canada invited me to come and check out some of their new mobile devices as well as participate in a Mobile Charity Challenge. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but I’m always curious to check out new technology.
We were shown a number of different types of mobile devices, some already on the market and some coming soon in a casual, roundtable format.
Let’s start with the LG New Chocolate BL40:
The New Chocolate is wider (taller) than the iPhone 3GS and has a very vivid and bright screen in an aspect ratio better suited for movies as you can see “Star Trek” playing on the iPhone in full, widescreen compared to the “Avatar” trailer playing on the BL40.
It has a slick, 3D cube style interface (which LG calls their ‘S-Class’ interface) that is manipulated via the large, touchscreen interface. There was no denying that it’s a beautiful media playing device that also happens to be a phone.
Unfortunately, it’s not a smartphone so I wasn’t really all that interested in it personally. It also is only available exclusively on the Telus network in North America so it’s even further limited to who can actually get it.
Take me to your Android
The next device we were shown was the LG Eve (available from Rogers in Canada), which sports the Android operating system:
I’ve been interested in finding a decent Android handset…I was unimpressed with the HTC varieties…mostly because they seemed cheap and flimsy in my hand. The Eve didn’t. In fact, it felt very nice in your hand with it’s rounded edges and smooth side flip keyboard which you could easily manipulate with one hand.
It’s slightly smaller than the iPhone but is a little thicker….but it seemed to be a good size to fit in the palm. Definitely more comfortable than the tablet style design of the iPhone.
The Eve sports a 5 megapixel camera with flash and a number of LG developed native apps that allow you to edit your photos and video right on the phone and then share with various social network sites. There were over 50 different effects you could apply to a photo, not unlike some of the many camera apps available on the iPhone. Also, the video editing software is surprisingly capable for making VGA sized videos complete with titles, transitions, a soundtrack and basic trim editing that you can then upload directly to YouTube.
I’m not going to go into all the features/specs of the Eve as it’s available elsewhere but I’ll try to answer a couple of obvious questions based on my limited time playing with the device.
Would it replace your iPhone?
No. At least not entirely. If I didn’t already have an iPhone, I’d most likely give it a serious consideration. There are some definite features that I like on the Eve that are better than on the iPhone (camera, flash, form factor in hand, microSD expandability) but I still found the interface somewhat counter intuitive and cluttered. The iPhone still seems to shine because of it’s simplicity and lack of buttons. The Eve has more physical buttons and a busier looking interface. This may suite you more than other people – I think it boils down to personal preference…my opinion on the UI would surely change the more time I had to use it, but it’s not as easy as the iPhone to simply pick up and start using with little knowledge of the UI.
I’m more interested in having a device like this to spend more time in Android land…this one certainly felt good.
Android is an interesting platform for smartphones that like it or not is constantly being compared to the iPhone. I’m very interested in seeing it mature and compete against the iPhone.
No Mac Support
I was kind of disappointed and surprised to hear that all these phones come only with software for Windows to allow you to sync your contacts, media, etc. but aren’t directly compatible with Apple computers. It sounded like some things could be manually synced because they weren’t in proprietary formats but I wasn’t able to test that aspect during my time with the devices. They apparently appear as mass storage devices when plugged in via USB with your content accessible via the file system.
One thing that kept coming to mind during the event is that LG is creating some interesting mobile and media technology, but like many mobile device manufacturers, their offerings are locked into carrier specific networks rather than being open and available to anyone. As well, some of these devices could stand on their own as great media players or wifi enabled internet devices without a phone component (ala iPod Touch) – as I mentioned, I’d love to have the the Eve to be able to play more with the Android operating system without requiring me to either switch from my iPhone or swap sim cards…I’m also not prepared to get two mobile plans just to play with the technology (unless someone wants to give it to me) so I’m less likely to switch to an Android device because I haven’t been able to experience the platform enough without a huge cost. Speaking with Blackberry (and PC) users, it’s a common issue…people are reluctant to change platforms unless they are confident they can get into their comfort zone quickly so they stick with what they know.
Calling Dick Tracy
We also got to see and play with LG’s newest version of video phone watch – yes a watch that is a phone with a video camera!
Unfortunately, it’s not currently available in the North American market (but it’s coming) so we weren’t able to try a call but were able to see how the built in camera worked and displayed video images on the watch – just like iChat on your MacBook, it was pretty slick and speedy. The size of the watch wasn’t ridiculous but probably big for many people. I’d wear one in a heartbeat. I’m looking forward to checking this device out further once it’s available in North America.
Lastly, we were also shown a new phone that hasn’t been released yet (the LG IQ) that was running the Windows Mobile operating system (yes it’s still around)…but I didn’t really get a chance to play with it much so I’ll leave it out of this post.
The final thing we did during the event was the Mobile Charity Challenge. This was a series of tasks everyone was asked to do using the phones we had just been shown. The winner of the challenge would be awarded a surprisingly huge $5000 to the charity of their choice. It was a good way to spend some time with the devices doing some common things the average person would do with the phones.
I ended up winning because of a video I (quickly) shot and edited on the Eve (I didn’t keep a copy of it) and won $5000 for Movember (a month long campaign to benefit prostate cancer research).
It was a great way to end the event, especially because I was attending the Movember wrap up gala right after the LG event…nothing beats being able to present an oversized novelty cheque at a charity event!
Thanks to LG Canada for hosting an interesting evening and making an extremely generous donation to my chosen charity.