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Summary:

Verizon today launched its 3G VCast Portal – and some cool content including two soap-type programs – Love & Hate and Sunset Hotel, both made by Fox. So expect lots of slutty stuff. These are for Verizon and Vodafone networks only. Official launch is in a […]

Verizon today launched its 3G VCast Portal – and some cool content including two soap-type programs – Love & Hate and Sunset Hotel, both made by Fox. So expect lots of slutty stuff. These are for Verizon and Vodafone networks only. Official launch is in a week, but are the phones ready? Here is a look at the two Verizon is going to be pushing pretty hard!

SamsungA890_01_300.gifAll your multimedia belongs to us. That’s the first thing that sprung to mind when I sat down to write this review after playing with Verizon Wireless’ first two EV-DO capable phones over the past few days: the Samsung A890 and the LG VX8000. The random—and annoying—bad
animation flashback is partially the product of trying to write this review at 3AM, but also borne of the frustration that each phone lacks my two favorite features: Bluetooth and removable storage, which makes it hard to store a lot of new media, and even harder to get content off the phones at all.

Mind you, the problem is not endemic to either of these phones. It’s just that these handsets are being positioned as multimedia phones—so I had hoped Verizon would lead with some devices that offered maximum data portability. Yet, neither come with built-in Bluetooth—which may be a blessing in disguise since Verizon famously crippled the Bluetooth on one of its Motorola phones last year—and only the VX8000 with its 64MB of storage space offers enough on-board memory. The A890, meanwhile, offers just 14MB. Not too impressive.

VX8000.jpgFortunately, those were really my only gripes, and they were relatively minor. In almost every other way both the Samsung and LG excel. Both sport 1.3 megapixel cameras that take perfectly respectable pictures and each will offer true 3G speeds—which for those of you fortunate enough to live in one of Verizon’s 32 EV-DO markets (inexplicably, that doesn’t include us folks in San Francisco yet) will mean 300 Kbps downloads—if not faster at times. The 3G phones will offer subscribers—for an extra $15 a month—access to Verizon’s new VCast service that launches next week which will give access to premium content from MTV Networks, Fox, and others. And at $199 for the VX8000 and $249 for the A890, both phones are very affordable as high-end feature phones. As you can see from the pictures, the LG has a little larger footprint than the Samsung, but is also slightly thinner. At just under 4 ounces, each are lightweight and not all uncomfortable to carry around—my Nokia 6620, by comparison, felt a little heavy.

sch-a890.jpgThese phones spell trouble for Cingular. While Cingular announced better than expected results in their first quarterly report since the
merger with AT&T Wireless—reaching 49.1 million subscribers—with these two phones (along with the Audiovox, which I did not get to use), Verizon is serving notice that its serious about this whole 3G thing…finally! I got to experience the download speeds of EV-DO over
the LG while I was at CES a few weeks back and if the Verizon network can indeed deliver on wireless broadband speeds all the time, Verizon could build itself a nice little 3G subscriber base before Cingular has time to gets its UMTS networks up and running in a significant
number of additional cities.

Review by Matt Maier, wireless and gizmo correspondent for Business 2.0 magazine. Subscribe to his Weekly Wireless Report.

  1. It would be a lot more trouble for Cingular if Verizon lowered its data plan prices a little. If I want to use any of these phones as EV-DO modems, it’s an extra $80/mo. on top of my regular cell phone bill. If I want unlimited data on a Treo, which is NOT EV-DO, it’s an extra $45/mo. Plus, since these don’t have Bluetooth, I would need to carry an extra cord with me to connect it to a laptop or PDA.

    Unlimited EDGE on a Bluetooth phone for $20, or unlimited EV-DO on a non-BT phone for $80? Some people will pay the premium, yes. Personally, I like Verizon, but not that much…

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  2. Good points…. I have EDGE and I find that its good enough for most things except when you want to connect to the web. when a new smart phone comes with a decent enough keyboard, i think the desire to have laptop connectivity is going to drop even further, and i think VZ should promote a lower phone/PDA price point – like $30 for unlimited data or something like that.

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  3. Ok, so no bluetooth. I’d like a bluetooth headset, so that’s a strike. But the argument against carrying around another cable? I don’t think it’s that valid since you’re carrying around your LAPTOP anyway, and I’m guessing you already carry five or six cables plus maybe a mouse. A small cable to connect the phone is not that big a deal in my opinion.

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  4. Actually the lack of EV-DO coverage in the Bay Area in quite easily explicable: VZW suffers from a lack of available spectrum in that market. The same issues prevent us up here in Seattle from enjoyinging EV-DO as well. My guess is that the company will find a way to roll out the service in both of these markets in the next 6-12 months.

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  5. Keith:

    You would think so. However, comrades of mine have been able to get an EV-DO signal here in the city, using PC cards, so I was under the impression that the network is already in place. Now, they may be doing QA, but they (Verizon) told me months ago (as in mid last year) that it was something they were working on. I’m probably just whining, but I want my EV-Do! =)

    Matt

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  6. $15/month for VCast!? If there are even 1000 subscribers by the end of 2005, the end of the world will certainly soon be upon us . . .

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  7. First post from new phone

    First post via Flickr on the new phone; the LG VX7000 via Verizon. Picked it up for a song via Amazon: $150 phone with $150 worth of rebates. Of course as soon as I order it, the new one comes out: the lg VX8000 (om’s review. The VX7000 can get on Ve…

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  8. I just went through BOTH phones. Sadly, I had exhausted THREE Samsung a890′s within the last 2 months. Either the phone ‘froze up,’ or there were connection problems to V-Cast (Verizon).

    Samsung’s a great name, but they need to put some more emphasis into testing their equipment thoroughly before it hits the market!

    Verizon gave me an “even exchange” to the LG 8000, which so far, has been working fine. What the 8000 doesn’t have is the functionality to “pan” (view a close-up version) pictures on the phone, which the Samsung a890 has. Samsung’s menu interface is much friendlier than that of the LG, but the LG isn’t bad, though.

    Both phones are good, just wish the Samsung was a trouble-free phone, otherwise I’d still have it by now!

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  9. I have one HUGE complaint against Verizon – none of their phones offer T9 input for email. This is such a standard feature on other phones/carriers that it boggles the mind they’re this cheap – yup. Cheap. Because you can T9 txt messages, or get a pocket PC. So much for “smart phone.”

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