capsule review

LG Fusic

At a Glance
  • LG Electronics Fusic by LG

    PCWorld Rating

    The Fusic is designed to look like an iPod, but it lacks a lot of music player features.

LG does its best to replicate the look of an iPod with its Fusic cell phone. While this handset could fill in for your MP3 player in a pinch, you won't be mistaking it for Apple's device anytime soon.

The Fusic's exterior is pearly white; when closed, this clamshell-style standard cell phone presents a small screen and navigation controls that are reminiscent of Apple's iPod. (The phone comes bundled with swappable colored face plates that can change the look, though.)

Unfortunately, the similarities to the iPod end there. You can upload MP3 and AAC music files to the included 64MB microSD card, but you're on your own if you want to do so, as the Fusic does not include any music transfer software. The Fusic is also slightly smaller than an iPod, measuring 3.8 by 1.9 by 0.8 inches and weighing 4.2 ounces. (A fourth-generation iPod measures 4.1 by 2.4 by 0.7 inches and weighs 6.4 ounces.)

Overall, the Fusic is more of an accessory to Sprint's music store than a stand-alone music player. The device is closely tied into Sprint's Power Vision network and the multimedia services it offers. You can access Sprint TV and sign up for a subscription to Sirius Satellite radio via the handset; you can also access Sprint's music store to purchase over-the-air song downloads. The music store is easy to access and use, but it's pricey: Song downloads will run you $2.50 each (including a copy of the song for your phone and another for your PC). Unfortunately you can't mix songs you purchase with songs from your own collection in one playlist; each music collection is accessible through a different application on the phone.

As a phone, the Fusic works well, offering adequate voice quality. When open, the long, lean handset is exceedingly comfortable to hold next to your ear. Its talk-time battery life is less impressive, however: It lasted only 4 hours, 47 minutes in our lab tests, marking it as a poor performer among standard cell phones we've recently tested.

It packs in plenty of extras, including a 1.3-megapixel camera, a microSD card slot, and an FM transmitter, which allows you to broadcast your music collection to your car or home radio. The FM transmitter worked well when I held the phone within inches of my car stereo, but the reception often grew staticky when I moved the phone more than a foot or so away.

With a two-year service agreement from Sprint, the Fusic costs $330 (as of 8/4/06). Online discounts will lower that price significantly, but building up your music collection via Sprint's music store will make a serious dent in your wallet.

Liane Cassavoy

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    The Fusic is designed to look like an iPod, but it lacks a lot of music player features.

    Pros

    • Innovative music features
    • Comfortable to use as a phone

    Cons

    • Sprint's music store is very expensive
    • Doesn't include music transfer software
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