capsule review

Verizon Wireless LG Voyager Smart Phone

At a Glance
  • LG Electronics Voyager

    PCWorld Rating

The new, feature-packed LG Voyager from Verizon Wireless does many things well. The reasonably compact (though not super-skinny), 4.7-ounce touch-screen phone makes excellent-quality voice calls and flips open sideways to reveal a first-rate QWERTY keyboard for typing e-mail and instant messages.

Its 2-megapixel camera captures digital stills superior to most I've snapped with a camera phone, and its little stereo speakers do a pretty good job playing my MP3s (downloaded to the handset or a Micro SD card via a supplied USB cable and Verizon's V Cast Music Manager). Its built-in GPS receiver and VZ Navigation service (an extra-charge option) were easy to set up and worked well, making the Voyager truly useful for, well, voyages. Web browsing over Verizon's EvDO network was zippy, and the handset supports V Cast Mobile TV (this extra-cost service wasn't activated on my test unit, however).

When closed, the Voyager looks similar to an iPhone, with a face dominated by a beautiful 2.8-inch display. But as an iPhone competitor, the Voyager falls short in the touch-screen department. While the display looks great and its VibeTouch haptics technology provides good tactile feedback (a little vibration) when you press an on-screen button, fingertip scrolling is disappointing, lacking the effortlessly smooth quality of the iPhone's implementation.

In my trials, the touch-screen and keyboard modes sometimes didn't play together as well as they should. Several times I tried to launch an app from the touch-screen menu, only to wind up having to flip open the phone and turn it sideways to use the keyboard or navigation pad inside. You can't activate the speakerphone from the touch screen, and of course any data entry requires the keyboard. Also, I sometimes found the relationship between screen and hardware controls confusing--I had trouble finding the volume control for the music player, for instance.

The Voyager isn't based on a major smart-phone platform such as Windows Mobile or BlackBerry, so you won't have the range of productivity apps that's available for those operating systems. And its battery life in our trials--4 hours and 38 minutes--was poor compared with those of other units we've tested. But the handset does deliver a lot of style (not to mention a good hardware keyboard and 3G, but no Wi-Fi, connectivity), along with its messaging, multimedia, and navigation capabilities, for its $349 price tag (with a two-year contract).

If you're not expecting an iPhone-caliber touch screen and the battery life isn't too much of a drag--or if you prefer Verizon Wireless to AT&T--the Voyager's pros may outweigh its cons and provide a good alternative to Apple's gem.

--Yardena Arar

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Feature-filled handset does most things well, but its touchscreen will disappoint those expecting iPhone quality.

    Pros

    • Stylish handset with first-rate keyboard
    • Voice calls are excellent

    Cons

    • Poor talk-time battery life
    • Touchscreen not up to iPhone standards
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