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!
All 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.
Fortunately, 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.
These 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.