When the original Chocolate was launched in 2006, the stylish phone in the shape of a chocolate bar became the "It" phone of the year. The new version, the Chocolate VX8550, looks just as sweet and packs more functionality into its minimalist slider design.
Chocoholics will find the phone slimmer and lighter than its predecessor while enjoying many of the same features, such as the 1.3-megapixel camera and camcorder, Bluetooth capability, and access to Verizon's VCast multimedia at ultrafast 3G connection speeds. The designers added a much-needed speakerphone function to their updated version and fitted it with a user-friendly scroll wheel for easier navigation as well as a vibrating touch keypad.
When not taking calls or streaming video, the phone transforms into a MP3 player and includes a micro SD expansion slot that takes up to a 4-gigabyte card. Combining beautiful design with rich functionality, the LG won't disappoint fans who have sampled the first Chocolate and are eager to come back for a second taste.
With its rounded contours and streamlined form, the sleek, sexy Chocolate takes its cues from art deco design. When closed, the phone resembles a dark iPod. At the slightest pressure from the thumb and forefinger, the bottom half slides down to reveal the keypad. In the hand, the phone has a perfect weight and feel. Users can answer an incoming call by opening the slider and end a call by closing it.
The designers have replaced the problematic touch-sensitive navigation wheel with a shiny, mechanical scroll wheel that features a middle selection key. Four vibrating touch-sensitive keys are positioned outside of wheel and exude a warm red glow when the phone is activated. The scroll wheel also has a trace motion light that makes it look like it's shooting off red sparks as it spins. This light can be programmed to illuminate in patterns when there's an incoming call or can be turned off altogether.
The touch-sensitive buttons respond to a gentle touch with a slight vibration to cue the user that it's responding. To the right and left of the scroll wheel, two soft keys near the top provide quick access to the message and contacts menus. Chocolateers will appreciate the touch-sensitive speakerphone key on the bottom left corner, a feature sorely missing from the original version. A touch-sensitive clear key on the bottom right corner lets you back out of functions without opening the slider. When pressed, the top, bottom, left and right points of the scroll wheel also act as shortcut keys.
On the left side, you'll find the volume up and down keys near the top and a voice activation key and charger port towards the bottom. The right side houses a microSD slot, a lock function and a music shortcut key. One of the biggest complaints: you have to unlock the phone if a call comes in when it's closed.
The lustrous sheen resembles a piano finish which attracts fingerprints easily and is available in three colors, or rather flavors: blue mint, black and black cherry. Out of the box, the Chocolate comes with a battery, AC charger, headset adapter and user manual. Verizon also offers a Chocolate "Music Set," featuring additional accessories such as a stereo headset, music manager software, USB cable and a 4-gigabyte microSD card and adapters.
The Chocolate slides open to reveal a 1.3-megapixel camera and camcorder. This handy design feature protects the lens when the phone is closed. A lens cover provides added insurance against scratches. Like the original Chocolate, the LG does not include a flash. A mirror is positioned next to the lens for centering self-portraits. Except in low-light conditions, the camera takes exceptional print-quality pictures -- even without a flash. Colors and contrasts appear vividly and skin tones take on a lustrous glow.
The camera shoots in three different resolutions, 1280-by-960, 640-by-480 and 320-by-240 pixels. Tapping on the navigation wheel adjusts brightness (-9 to +9). The camera zooms up to 2x -- except in the 1,280-by-960 pixel resolution mode. The internal memory stores over 250 high-resolution and 1,000 middle-resolution photos. Camera controls include a self-timer (three, five or 10 seconds), white balance settings for sunny, cloudy, fluorescent or night-time conditions, fun shutter sounds (shutter, silent, say cheese and ready 1, 2, 3) and color effects including negative, solari, sepia and black and white.
You can toggle between the camera and the video by pressing the camera button. The middle key of the scroll wheel acts as a shutter when the camera is activated. For occasions when you take a near-perfect photo that you don't want to edit on your laptop before sending it to friends, the camera includes a photo editing feature with a three-step zoom as well as photo cropping and rotate tools.
The camcorder shoots in MP4, 3GP and 3G2 formats and includes settings for recording time (30 seconds for video emails or up to one hour), color effects and white balance. You have the option of setting videos under 5-megabytes in size as wallpaper. At a video resolution of 176-by-144 pixels and without a flash, video quality is grainy and dark. The camcorder doesn't set any new standards for cell phone video, but is useful for times when you want to capture moving images.
The dual-band Chocolate runs on Verizon's digital networks and transmits data using high-speed Ev-Do frequency. City dwellers that are covered by the digital network will experience great reception and download speeds. However, in rural areas that lack digital coverage, you won't be able to connect.
The Chocolate runs with Flash UI, which displays a circular menu layout and offers a variety of menu color choices, themes and animations. As was mentioned above, the developers have added a speakerphone, a feature lacking in the original Chocolate. Pressing a touch-sensitive button activates the speakerphone. Even though the speaker sits on the back, speakerphone quality is clear and loud. Since the doubles as a music player, it offers a handy feature for airplane travelers called Music Only Mode, which turns the radio frequency off except for Bluetooth.
The auto lock kicks in when the slider is closed or when the phone is inactive for 17 seconds -- or 25 seconds if the display backlight is set at 15 seconds -- requiring you to unlock it to answer or make a call. Sliding down the lock key or pressing "Ok" twice unlocks the phone. Although the lock was designed to protect the phone from activating when it gets jostled inside of a pocket or a purse, unlocking it quickly becomes tedious. The comes with a set of convenience tools including voice command for dialing, calculator, calendar, stopwatch, alarm clock, notepad and tip calculator.
According to LG, the battery provides over four hours of talk time and two weeks of standby. That said, actual battery times will vary according to performance variables such as the downloading and playing of video and music, which will consume battery energy at greater rates than talking. Other features include support for TTY/TDD and English and Spanish language settings.
The 262,000 color TFT LCD screen provides the best resolution of all of the flat panel types. Hidden when dark, the vibrant display lights up when the phone is activated. While the screen's size and resolution are great for viewing, TFT screens draw more battery power than the less-vibrant STN or OLED screens. At the same time, the slider design means that it only has to support one screen -- compared the interior and exterior screens of a clamshell. The 2.2-inch diagonal display has a resolution of 240-by-320 pixels and shows 11 lines of text. The screen's superior clarity makes it perfect for streaming Verizon's VCast videos.
The Chocolate supports Verizon's VCast music services, which offers a library of 1.5 million songs that can be purchased and downloaded to a PC or directly to the phone. For $2, you can download the songs directly to your phone. Verizon also sends a copy to the user's online account for downloading to a Windows PC. You can also download songs to a PC for $1 and transfer them via a USB cable or a microSD card -- sold separately. Note that besides the cost of the song, the airtime you use when downloading songs will be charged to your bill, unless you subscribe to the VCast "V-Pak" plan.
The Chocolate is one of the few Verizon phones that play unprotected MP3 files. This frees Mac owners from having to purchase all of their music from Verizon and them an option for getting music from their computer to their phone. You can import MP3s to your phone by syncing their computer with your phone or "sideload" using a memory card. Synced MP3s are automatically converted to WMA format. Only unprotected MP3s can be sideloaded. Protected MP3 files have to be synced -- converted to WMAs -- in order to be played.
Verizon also provides software for their VCast Music Manager, which searches for and plays music in a library and connects to the VCast music library for shopping. A dedicated music key provides easy access to the music library, which automatically lists music according to genres, artists, playlists and albums. You can store up to 4-gigabytes of music on removable SD memory cards, which provide ample tunes for long road trips.
The multimedia-rich Chocolate offers a variety of ways to connect. When the Messaging menu is selected, it provides three options: sending a text, a picture -- with or without audio -- or a video message. Video messages are limited to 30 seconds or less. For easy texting, the backlit, numeric keyboard features tactile buttons. Text messagers can add up to 10 recipients to a message and type a whopping 1,064 characters. Verizon's IM service provides access AOL, Yahoo or MSN Messenger IM accounts, and its Mobile Web 2.0 links you to your web-based email accounts. Charges may apply to the airtime used for these services.
Verizon's VCast network offers a wide array of music, video, games and applications through its "Get It Now" services. For an added subscription fee, you can stream videocasts in sports, news, entertainment and weather, from media outlets like CNN, ESPN and Comedy Central. Verizon's network features over 30 channels. The basic package of eight video channels costs $15 a month. For $25 a month, the "V-Pak" gets subscribers unlimited access to eight channels as well as unlimited air time, email and Web 2.0.
The Chocolate also features "Tools on the Go," which features the VZ Navigator, an application that provides turn-by-turn instructions to any address in the U.S. and points out neighboring landmarks such as ATM's, banks and gas stations. You have the option of getting your instructions in written or audible format. The VZ Navigator costs $10 for a monthly subscription or $3 for a one-day subscription. Other helpful tools include eBay, Moviegoer and Fox Sports Mobile Pro.
Verizon also offers a multitude of games through its VCast services on a per-download basis. Some games also require airtime. From Tiger Woods PGA Tour '07 to Tetris Mania, Chocolate fans can take advantage of its bright, colorful screen during long train rides or moments of boredom by tapping into the Games menu. For redecorating or revamping the phone, VCast also offers an array of colorful and stylish wallpaper as well as the latest ringtones.
The Chocolate connects to the Internet on Verizon's Ev-Do service, which downloads at rates of up to 3.6-megabits per second. This superfast connectivity lets you stream VCast services painlessly and connect to the Web through Verizon's news, entertainment, sports and weather channels -- as well as dozens of downloadable applications that bring webpages to your phones.
You can also access Yahoo, Hotmail and AOL accounts with Web 2.0 service, which is available for an additional monthly charge, plus airtime charges. Verizon's network is available in more than 170 major metropolitan markets. If you live in a rural area, you should check the availability on Verizon's website.
The Chocolate comes with 62-megabytes of phone memory and 63-megabytes of music memory. For extra storage, the microSD port takes memory cards with up to 4-gigabytes of storage capacity, enabling deep pockets of storage for music, video and pictures. A third storage option for Chocolate owners is to transfer files to a PC using a USB cable. The phone book lists up to 1,000 contacts, allowing up to five numbers, two email addresses and a picture ID for each contact.
The Chocolate supports up to 20 Bluetooth pairings, including headsets for handsfree talking without the hassle of dangling wires, as well as A2DP stereo headsets for listening to music. Use Bluetooth to access phone books, transfer files or send pictures. Bluetooth lets you swap V-cards, or use the phone as a fax machine.
If you're style-conscious and like to get your multimedia over the phone, the LG has a lot to offer. The new version improves the design with richer functionality and navigation. With its powerful new speakerphone, vibrating touch keypad technology and a navigation wheel with trace motion light, the Chocolate reaches new levels of user-friendliness.
The Chocolate packs every possible combination of multimedia into its ultra-thin form. It downloads VCast music and videos at 3G speeds, works as a standalone MP3 player, and shoots excellent photos with its 1.3-megapixel lens. Versatile and sleek, the LG takes the popular Chocolate to new levels of performance, making the phone an even sweeter deal.
Agree or disagree? We'd love to hear your thoughts. Share your experience and leave a comment below. ♦
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Well a little over a year ago my parents bought me the new mint Chocolate cell phone I was so excited. However within a month I knew that the phone would not be lasting very long.
About 6 months from the time I received my original present I had my phone replaced about 8 times. The day my upgrade was availible I decided to get a new phone, when I was browsing I kept in mind how much I enjoyed the original because of it's slide and perfectly sized keys.
So I hesitantly made the decision to buy the upgrade to the phone that had given me so much trouble. When I recieved my new phone I could tell how improved it was.
Although the happiness was short lived two months to the day after I bought the phone the 3, 7, 1, and send button were malfunctioning every time I would press any of them it would send me to the menu screen even when texting.
So after getting very frustrated I just shut off the phone and an hour later I turned it on the buttons worked again however the center select button no longer worked. Three days later I went to the Verizon store and was told to have it replaced.
Besides that little damage I truly enjoy the phone it works amazingly and I would definately recommend it to someone who isn't as rough with their phones as I am.Was this review helpful to you?
5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.
Switched from Motorola Razr
I switched from the Motorola Razr (after a year and a half of use) to the Chocolate VX8550 in Black Cherry. Granted it has only been a week, however I could not be happier save for a few things that anyone must get used to when setting up and using a new phone.
The navigation wheel is awesome. It is very nice that you are able to click it as well as turn it like my iPod. The touch / vibrating keys are an awesome way to know what just happened. (Going from the "full-sized" Razr to the "small / mid-sized" Chocolate did take a bit of adjusting!)
The menu and phones general programming is very refreshing from that of the Razr. The thing that makes me very happy is how many different customizations I am able to make to the phone, display, sound, call, and menu settings just to name a few! One of my favorite features is when recieving songs via TXT message the option to "save as a ringtone" and "save as a sound" is unexpected and very useful! I have yet to purchase the Datacable / music package, however, that is going to be my next life goal.
The thing I most unhappy with is my phone died yesterday (I recieved the phone Tuesday, charged it the entire day). The phone beeped twice to tell me it was dying and then promptly died. My Razr would last an entire day after beginning to beep and tell me to charge it. However, it is just something I must get used to. The smaller sized keyboard does make TXT messaging more difficult than with my Razr, however, it is not a deal-breaker for me. The other problem I see to be having is turning the speaker phone is, however, I am sure this is just because I have not read the user-manual that far, yet.
I have been hearing a lot of people becoming upset with the Lock / Unlock feature. I must say that I do not have a problem with the feature. When I slide open the phone, it unlocks instantly and when I slide it closed, it locks promptly.
Overall, I am very happy with my upgrade from the Razr to the Chocolate.Was this review helpful to you?
5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.
LG Chocolate 8550 Review
I have had the new Chocolate for a little over a week so I have had time to get used to it after switching from a Motorola E815. It is, in a word, awesome. I will attempt to point out the strongest things about it and the very few things I don't like.
1. How it functions as a phone -- this is the primary reason to have a cell phone after all. The new Chocolate is a very good phone and is worthy of a purchase for that reason alone. Reception is very good, no complaints from people on the other end and the call volume in the earpiece is excellent. I have not used the speakerphone, so I can't speak to that.
2. Menus / Customization -- The menus and minor lack of customization options has been a little difficult after using a Motorola without the Verizon menu system. The menus on the phone are MUCH better than the standard Verizon menus, but I do wish that I could customize them a bit more.
3. MP3 Player -- Sound is very good, it is nice that you can use it without headphones (unlike iPod). However the one major annoyance I have with the phone is that songs are all organized in alphabetical order -- even when you select to play by Album.
4. Battery Life -- Very good. I used the phone for approximately 100 minutes of talk time, an hour of surfing to find ringtones, and over 2 hours of MP3 playing and I was still able to go 3 days between charges.
Overall, a truly excellent phone and I highly recommend it. No, it is not an iPod but for my money it is a much better choice than buying a $200 iPod and a $50 (or more) phone.
I have not been able to organize them any other way except to rename the songs on my computer with the song number first. This is irritating to me, but honestly, is a very minor gripe with the overall quality of the phone.Was this review helpful to you?
5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.
Not for Pockets
I would recommend this phone to an adult who is going to keep it in a carrying case or somewhere besides their pockets.
I have only had my Chocolate fo 7 months and the screen has broken twice on me. Both times I just pulled the phone out of my pocket to find that the screen had cracked.
After the first time it cracked I took it to a repair center to get it fixed which ended up costing me a hunded bucks for a new screen and instalation. Then a month after I got it fixed I pulled it out of my pocket to find it cracked again.
So I'm fed up with the phone and will be replacing it within the next week.
This phone is great for adults because my parents have it as well and have never had a problem with it but it is definetly not for teens.Was this review helpful to you?
4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.
I had bought the original Chocolate when it first came out and was extremely disappointed with it. It was great for about a week. Then the slider wore out, the touchpad went nuts, along with other problems.
Needless to say I got rid of it. When this new Chocolate was released I was very doubtful of it but after playing around with it and using it for a week or so I discovered how nice it was.
First of all Verizon fixed all the problems of the old Chocolate. The problematic touch pad was changed into a scroll wheel that can also be a arrow pad. Second the changed the slider design for a magnet to a regular click slider. These are just a few of the many upgrades which makes this phone a great choice.Was this review helpful to you?
4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.
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