The cell phone equivalent of a Zippo lighter, the LG VX8700 stands out from other thin clamshells because of its shiny metal finish. But that's not the only reason to snatch up this style statement. It's far from cheap, but a sharp two-megapixel camera, V CAST video and music support, and stereo Bluetooth solidify the VX8700 as a multimedia powerhouse.
By far the most attractive phone in Verizon Wireless' lineup, the LG VX8700 sports a silver body that feels smooth and solid in the hand. It's noticeably heavier than the VX8600 (3.8 ounces vs. 3.3 ounces), but the VX8700 is slightly thinner (0.54 vs. 0.58 inches). You'll either love or hate the metallic finish on the front and back. We're in the former camp, even though it didn't take long for this shiny cell to pick up fingerprints. One nice touch is that the three-line color LCD on the front doubles as a tiny mirror when it's off.
Flip the lid and you'll find a flat but spacious metallic number pad. We found dialing easy, but the directional pad was a bit cramped. It's also positioned too close to the End and Clear buttons; we unintentionally exited a V CAST video during playback and a game of Derek Jeter Power Baseball 3D 2007 as we rounded the bases. On the plus side, we like the slightly recessed display hinge, which makes the VX8700 the perfect length when making calls with the phone cradled between your shoulder and ear. The menus have a sleek metallic theme by default and look good on the large, bright QVGA color display, an upgrade from the VX8600's 200 x 176-pixel screen.
The left side of the VX8700 houses the volume controls, the Voice Command button, and a combination charging port/headphone jack. A camera launch key is on the right side of the phone. So where's the microSD Card slot? You'll have to pop open the back metal cover and remove the battery to access it. We prefer a side-mounted slot, but that's the price you pay for style.
Mobile shutterbugs will appreciate the 2-MP camera. It captured highly detailed shots on our tests, good enough to zoom in 4X on your notebook's screen. (See the Photo Gallery for a few test shots.) Without autofocus capability, however, we noticed a slight shutter delay and some blurring with moving subjects. The camera doesn't have a flash, but you can increase the exposure on the fly by pressing up on the D-pad. It also has a Night Mode setting, which worked well at short range. The built-in Image Editor lets you rotate, crop, and save images right on the phone. You can use that skinny external display for taking self-portraits, but its small size means you'll have to make sure everything you want is in the frame before you shoot.
YouTube fans will like that the VX8700 records 320 x 240-pixel videos at 15 frames per second. We shot some footage of moving traffic in Manhattan, and playback was generally smooth, with rich colors. You can record up to one hour of video to a 2GB memory card, or up to 30 seconds in Video Message Mode.
Like all V CAST phones, the VX8700 can stream videos and download songs over the air. Over Verizon's speedy EV-DO network, it took only six seconds to start playing a Daily Show clip and 40 seconds to pull down a Nine Inch Nails track. At $1.99 a pop, however, these songs are pretty expensive compared with Sprint's 99 cents (down from $2.49). Videos looked just okay on the VX8700; we could decipher an NBC news clip, but the artifacts were a bit distracting. Then again, once you've seen V CAST Mobile TV in action, nothing else seems to measure up.
If you want to listen to videos and music, you can plug a stereo headset into the bulky and awkward 2.5mm adapter, which Verizon includes in the box. We would much rather use the VX8700 with Bluetooth headphones, however. Not only can you adjust the volume wirelessly, but you can also change tracks with the phone in your pocket, which is especially helpful because this phone doesn't have external music controls. We paired the VX8700 with the Motorola S9 in just a few seconds and enjoyed pristine audio playback.
Voice calls on our tests sounded nearly perfect in Manhattan and New Jersey, with no complaints from our recipients. The 3 hours and 20 minutes of rated talk time is 20 minutes shorter than what the VX8600 offers. We found ourselves needing to recharge every other day, which is a little more often than we'd like. Note that recording video and taking pictures takes up a lot of power, so avoid using the camera if you want to save some juice.
The lower-priced LG VX8600 is still our favorite bang-for-your-buck V CAST phone, but the VX8700 is worth $50 more for those looking for a combination of high style and substance. The 2-MP camera also helps justify the premium. Although some may balk at the lack of media controls and the internal memory card slot, we recommend this sleek silver clamshell for those who have the means.
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