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LG’s Vu Plus stands solid

The mobile phone of today is a true multitasking wonder. Once upon a time – one so long ago now, it must seem to users who were there, and one unimaginable to users who only recently got their start – mobile phones were as about as small as they were functional, which is to say not very much at all. Nevertheless, taking your calls on the road with you was a big enough leap back in the day, although certainly not the biggest that society felt it could take. To wit, over time technology has marched forward and has infused succeeding generations of mobile phones with more and more capabilities, making them faster and more functional for the modern mobile user.

One company that has managed to keep things consistent in their approach to accomplishing this is LG. With such successful recent releases as the Remarq, LG has maintained a good portfolio of mobile handsets that deliver a good mobile experience. Their latest push involves an update to their older Vu model – logically known as the Vu Plus – which brings a solid round of features and ups the ante with live mobile TV. While stumbling a bit on its photo quality and the somewhat tricky nature of its keyboard, it offers a good capacitive touch screen display, GPS, and stereo Bluetooth and a good number of features, and nevertheless emerges a solid enough full-feature phone for most users.

Deceptively similar to its predecessor, the Vu Plus seems at first to sport only minimal physical differences – a 4.31” long by 2.1” wide by 0.6” thick frame that seems a bit longer and thicker than the first Vu thanks to the new slide-out keyboard, for one thing. There’s also the capacitive 3-inch display, which responds quickly to tapping and comes with optional adjustable vibration, sound effects or haptic feedback, and has crisp, rich images thanks to the 262,000 color support and 240×400 resolution. The home screens are also customizable [you get up to 3 home screens – contacts, widgets, and even app shortcuts]. The full-QWERTY keyboard is a slide-out, four-row panel. The keys are raised, but since they’re so close to each other – and a little stiffer to the press than might be best – you may still need to type with fingernails more than fingers. A unique dedicated .com key is appreciated though, and once you get the hang of typing with this particular board it’s not so bad.

The Vu Plus has a 1000-entry phone book, speakerphone and vibrate mode, as well as text and multimedia messaging. The feature set beyond this is loaded as well — voice recorder, voice command, instant messaging via AIM, Windows Live and Yahoo, a 3-megapixel camera, GPS, an HTML Web browser and stero A2DP Bluetooth. There’s also support for a variety of Web mail services like GMail, AOL Mail and Hotmail. However, the big figure for this release is AT&T Mobile TV support, powered by the Qualcomm MediaFLO network, which goes a long way toward cutting through the typical buffering-loaded streaming video experience. It’s a potentially pricey service at $15 a month just for the Mobile TV [Mobile TV plus unlimited Web browsing and Mobile Video, maximizable with up to 7.2 Mbps HSDPA speed, costs twice that at $30], but your mileage may vary.

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