LG 800g Review Part 2

This is the second installment of my in-depth LG 800g Review. For the review index page, click here. In this installment, I cover the connectivity and the camera aspects of the phone, and in the next segment I’ll get to some of the additional features I’ve tested out.

Connectivity

I have been able to connect this phone to my computer as well as other phones via bluetooth. Using this connection, I can transfer files both to and from the phone, including large files such as mp3s and videos. If you’re connecting to a computer, USB is my preferred method as it will result in the fastest transfer speeds. To do this, you’ll need a USB to micro-USB cable, which can be obtained very cheaply ($2-$3) online from sites such as eBay, Amazon, Buy.com, or, my personal favorite for cables, monoprice.com. These cables are increasingly easy to find since micro-USB is becoming the accepted standard for phone connections.

Also, if you’re accessing the phone via your computer, you’ll be able to see what’s on the microSD memory card, but not what’s stored in the internal memory. Accordingly, it’s best to set the camera’s default storage location to external memory.

As usual, I don’t have any experience connecting the 800g to a vehicle bluetooth system or GPS. Based on what I’ve heard from other users, though, I believe it should work in terms of audio, but it might be difficult to get voice dialing established using the phone’s memory book. Of course, this could vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle or GPS device.

I also don’t believe that this phone can be tethered; that is, used for dial-up internet. Thankfully, with a few helpful apps internet browsing gets a little better than on the standard browser included with the phone. I’ll cover those in part 3 of the review, but for now just know that you can get Opera Mini and Bolt browsers on this phone for a better browsing experience.

Camera

Photo captured with the LG 800g's camera

Picture taken with the LG 800g

The LG 800g camera offers still photos at the following resolutions: 1600×1200 (2 megapixel), 1280×960 (1 megapixel), 640×480 (VGA), and 320×240 (QVGA). Additionally there are options for Super Fine, Fine, and Normal image quality. In addition to the “auto” mode, users can change the white balance and color effect. There are also continuous shot, self-timer, and night mode features.

As you would expect, image quality is best for well-lit still shots. As the lighting worsens, or if the subject is in motion, the picture will get much worse. As you can see, I’ve included some sample photos (as well as a sample video) taken with the LG 800g. I found that the color reproduction was pretty good indoors and out, and I was actually rather impressed with the quality of the still shots. As you can see in the outdoor sample shot, though, the straight edges of the siding on the home pictured have a jagged edge effect. On the indoor shot, though, I thought everything turned out very nicely.

Sample of outdoor picture taken with LG 800g

Outdoor Sample

The video quality isn’t as good, but I didn’t have great expectations. I took a sample video outdoors on a windy day, attempting to capture the tall grasses of a field blowing in the wind. (The tall grasses were approximately 25-30 feet away). I also caught some passing cars in the brief video. As you can see, the detail captured here isn’t great. And the sound of the window on the microphone is atrocious. I would describe the video recorder on this device as a novelty or convenience, and not useful for recording anything you’ll want to save for very long.

I also found it hard to use the camera outdoors, even on a cloudy day, as the glossy screen made it very difficult to use the virtual viewfinder. Another complain is that it lacks a hardware camera button, instead requiring a touch-screen touch. However, the iPhone and iPod touch work the same way, so clearly LG is not alone in this hardware design decision.

On the plus side, it’s easy to get pictures off this device in a variety of ways. Bluetooth or USB cable will allow you to connect the device to a computer for easy transfer. And if those don’t work, you can always remove the microSD card from the phone and plug that into your computer.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I’ll get the next segment out next week, and in that I will go over some of the following:

  • mp3 player
  • Adding Apps
  • games
  • notes/calendar/organizer

TracFone

Net10

Straight Talk

LG 800g Review Part 1

LG 800g Review

This is the first installment of my in-depth review of the LG 800g from TracFone and Net10. I’ve already had quite a few posts on this, including a youtube video and a “first impressions” quick review. For links to those posts, check out my LG 800g Review Index.

General Overview

TracFone and Net10′s first long-awaited touch-screen is the LG 800g, a slab-style device on the GSM network. It offers a resistive touch-screen, and does NOT have a hardware QWERTY keyboard (although a virtual QWERTY keyboard is available when composing text messages). It is surprisingly light weight at 3.05 ounces, and measures 4.05″ high, 2.24″ wide, and .47″ thick. The screen is pretty large and takes up a good percentage of the front of the phone, at 1.7″ by 2.2″ for a 2.8″ diagonal measurement. The only physical keys on the phone are “send,” “back,” and “end” keys on the front of the phone, the power button on the top of device, and a volume rocker switch along the right side.

There are many features to list when discussing this model. Of course the most-desired feature is the touch screen, but there’s also a 2.0 megapixel camera, video recorder, mp3 player, micro SD card slot, full bluetooth, 3.5mm headset jack, and voice recorder. You’ll also be able to add applications to this device, in the form of java programs. These apps are not available from a central location like with the iPhone or Android devices, but from a variety of sources on the web such as getjar.com, and MobileHeart.com. Most apps are free.

External/Appearance

LG 800g Touch Screen Phone

LG 800g for TracFone and Net10

In  terms of appearance, this one is really set apart from all previous Net10 and TracFone handsets by its touch screen form. In my opinion, it looks quite modern and will blend in nicely with most other expensive contract phones on the market today. The phone feels good to me as far as build quality and ease of handling. The screen is, obviously, very glossy, but the sides and back cover are not. This, along with the rounded edges and small size make for a very comfortable, sure-handed grip. It also slides easily in or out of a pants pocket.

My only complaint is that the touch screen already shows signs of wear after I carried it around for a little over a month. I think the bulk of that happened when I had the phone in the same pocket as my keys, though. You can see the scratches in the picture, although they look much worse in that picture than when I actually use the phone. I really don’t notice them when looking at the screen. That said, I would advice a cheap adhesive screen protector to keep your screen sharp.

General Phone Function

Signal reception so far has been very good for me, and I have no concerns about it. I was a little worried about voice quality at first. I thought it sounded muddy and static-y, but after further review I’m not so worried about those. I did compare this model side-by-side with the LG 900g from Net10, and they were quite comparable. However, I did notice slightly more background hissing noise on this touch screen. Based on that, I would rate the 800g at 7 out of 10 for audio quality. On the plus side, audio quality didn’t suffer much when I used the phone in a noisy car at highway speeds. The other party commented that I sounded VERY loud, and clear, so it seems that this model must have some technology designed to zero in on the voice and block out background noise.

Audio volume has been quite impressive in all facets, including standard voice calls, speaker phone, and ringtone. I did not have a problem hearing the phone in any situation. The ringtones also allow for a nice variety. You can use mp3 files for ringtones, although the mp3 file must not exceed a certain size (approximately 30 seconds in length, I believe, although this may depend on bit rate). You can also create specific rintones for individual contacts or groups. One area that disappointed me was the lack of flexibility with regard to message tones – although you can use any short mp3 for the text message alert, you must use the same text message sound for all contacts and groups.

I haven’t had a chance to do too much testing of the battery life yet, so I’ll have to update as I continue to work on the review. However, it seems to me that when I wasn’t using the phone much at all, I got over a week of life on a single charge. I’m sure that number will go down as I use the screen more, but so far it seems reasonable.

Internal display/keypad

The performance of the display has been satisfactory, even in direct sunlight situations. I somewhat expected to be disappointed because of the low price of this phone, but thankfully everything lived up to my expectations.

One area where I’ve heard a handful of complaints is that the menu looks “childish” or “cartoon-y.” In fact, this is accurate, when you first start up the phone. However, there is an option buried within the settings menu (Menu>settings>display>theme), that allows you to switch between to themes: Cartoon or Black. The “Black” settings offers a more refined look on the menu icons.

Text messaging offers three different input methods – virtual qwerty keyboard, virtual T9 keypad, or handwriting input. You can choose from among these three methods manually by pressing the menu button in the text composition screen. The phone will also default to the most recently used method the next time you compose a text. The qwerty and the T9 both require you to tap virtual “keys”on the screen, while the handwriting input method allows you to draw letters on the screen, which the phone then decodes and puts into digitized text.

Either method will take a little getting used to – using the keyboard or keypad will take some practice to get the correct amount of pressure to strike the keys. I’m an avid iPod touch user, and the experience with the LG 800g was very different from the iPod, which makes sense since they are two different types of touch-screen technology.

The LG 800g uses “resistive” technology, which requires the users to press hard enough on the screen two connect to parallel layers of the screen, thus changing the electrical circuit. On the other hand, iPod uses “capacitive” technology, which basically means that your finger, since it can conduct electricity, is itself changing the flow of electrical current on the screen. The resistive technology of the 800g requires a firmer touch.

All this is a long way of saying, you’ll have to press quite a bit harder on the 800g screen than on an iPod, iPhone, or other capacitive touch screen. If you’re used to one of those more expensive devices, the LG 800g will definitely take some getting used to, but really the pressure required is no more than you’d need to apply in order to press physical hardware buttons on a standard phone. The phone does, however, provide a slight “haptic feedback,” which simply means that the phone produces either a slight vibration, a sound, or both after each touch, to let the user know that the phone registered your command. Both the sound and the vibration can be customized by type and volume, and can be turned off completely if you prefer.

As I said above, the 800g screen is not as sensitive as some more expensive devices, but the flip side of this is that I like handwriting input better on the LG 800g than on those expensive screens, including my iPod touch. Due to the resistive technology of the 800g, it is possible to use a slim non-conductive device such as a stylus or fingernail to operate the touch screen. I found it quite simple to enter a text message in handwriting mode while using the fingernail on my index finger, and I actually preferred this method to the virtual keyboards. I also had luck using the blunt end of a pen, which is handy for me since I almost always carry a pen in my pocket. Now this might strike you as unappealing to think of pulling out a pen to compose a text message, but I think it could be helpful for writing longer messages.

One other thing I’d like to comment on here is the home screen. This can be customized with a handful of icons. Actually, there are two home screens – one for menu options, and one for contacts. The contacts screen, as the name implies, allows you place shortcuts to your favorite contacts on the homescreen. The icon then shows the picture you have assigned to that contact, if you have one. Once your contact is added, tapping on the icon brings up three options – call, sms, or edit.

The menu home screen allows the user to add shortcuts to their favorite menu options. I can see how this would be handy, and in fact I use the music player and camera shortcuts. But my complaint here is that TracFone has placed a shortcut to the “prepaid” menu on the home screen, and there is no way to remove this icon. However, the rest of the icons are easy to customize quickly.

Well, that’s all I’ll cover in this portion. I’ll continue learning more about the LG 800g and return with another installment of the review early next week.

If you want to purchase this phone now, you can save $5 (from either TracFone or Net10) by using code GI2011 when you check out from their sales pages. Click on one of the following links to use this code now:

TracFone

Net10

Samsung t245g review

Samsung T245g review

There’s yet another new phone showing up on parts of America Movil’s site. “TracFancier” has discovered a tutorial page for a new device, the Samsung t245g (also sometimes referred to as the Samsung SGH-T245g). I’m not sure at this time which of the three brands (TracFone, Net10, or Straight Talk) will carry this phone.

Based on the look of the phone and by comparing the features and model number to previous Net10 and TracFone devices, I don’t believe there’s much reason for excitement around this model. The Samsung t201g on Net10 was one of the worst models I ever tested, and this one doesn’t look all that much different. My biggest complaint about the t201g, as well as the t101g that came out around the same time, was horrible audio quality. Those models also lacked any other redeeming qualities, so I ended up recommending just about any other phone over them.

The Samsung t105g and t155g came out about a year after those first two, with little improvement. The Samsung t255g is also already available from Straight Talk, and I’m having a hard time figuring out the difference between the new t245 and the older t255. Perhaps the t245 will be on Trac and/or Net10, and the t255g will remain with Straight Talk only. I haven’t actually tested the t255 because I was so turned off by my previous experiences with similar modelsthat I didn’t even bother with the t255g.

Hopefully the Samsung t245g is an improvement, but I’m not holding my breath. It’s a clamshell-style phone, with a .3 megapixel camera as it’s only noteworthy “feature.” And in this case it’s noteworthy because of how bad it is. There are already several other very inexpensive Straight Talk devices with 1.3 or 2.0 mp cameras, all of which do a fine job with call quality.

The t245g lacks an mp3 player and java app support as well. All in all, it’s just a very basic phone. If that’s all you need, perhaps this will fit the bill. But I would not be at all surprised if an LG (like the LG 420g or 231c) or Motorola accomplishes the basic necessities better than the Samsung t245g. Maybe this time I’ll have to give it a closer look just to be sure, though. And when I do, I’ll post a full Samsung t245g review, with links to the review on this page.

TracFone

Net10

Straight Talk

LG 500g review conclusion

LG 500g review – Part 3

This is the third and final installment in this review. If you’re looking for the first two parts, check out the LG 500g review index.

This TracFone and Net10 device came out in the spring of 2011, and filled the “low-cost QWERTY phone” niche for both companies. This review was written primarily by contributor Otis 226, and I added input where I felt it was necessary or helpful to do so. Here is our combined effort:

Connectivity

LG 500g review picture #3

LG 500g (left) and LG 800g

   The LG500G does have two ways to connect to a computer. Happily, the bluetooth function,

(Settings – Connectivity – Bluetooth –Activate bluetooth – Search for new Device – Paired Devices – Settings), seems to be unrestricted with this handset, so it is a simple matter to pair with your bluetooth-enabled computer and transferring files back and forth. Interestingly, I’ve had a bit more trouble communicating with my iMac than my PC, but eventually both worked fine. I do not own a bluetooth-enabled automobile, but I would assume it should be able to communicate here as well.

The other way to communicate with a computer would be with a usb data cable. Just be sure that your cable has the extra pins, and isn’t just meant to charge the handset. I thought I had a cable that I could try this out with, but apparently, all micro usb connectors are not equal. With the proper cable, your added micro SD card should read like a removable drive on your computer, allowing the transfer of files back and forth.

One thing I liked about the bluetooth connection; unlike my lg290c, where the ‘visibility’is only good for 1 minute, the 500g allows for 3 min. of visibility. Not having the cable available, I can’t say if the handset can be used for dial-up internet via a computer, though it seems very unlikely as no TracFone or Net10 handset to date has allowed such functionality. Either way, I don’t see many people wanting to use it in that way, which I’ll explain in a bit.

Camera

The 1.3 mega pixel camera worked well in my testing. It can be accessed in two ways. First, pressing the left 4-way directional key brings it up quickly. You can also use the menu and go to ‘My Folder’, then scroll down to ‘camera’. Once there, options allow you to adjust the image size between 1280×960; 640×480; or 320×240. Color effect can be selected between Sepia, B&W, or Negative. There is a ‘White Balance’ feature, which allows for adjustment among Auto-Incandescent-Sunny-Fluorescent-Cloudy. There is also a night mode and a self-timer, which can be set for 3-5-or 10 sec. (I can’t imagine where you can prop the camera up to get in the photo, but hey, its there!)

Then there’s “Burst Shot Mode,” which allows 3, 6 or 9 consecutive exposures with one press of the button. Image quality can be adjusted for Super Fine-Fine-or Normal, and finally, the preview style can be viewed in either full image or full screen.

You can view your pictures album style and also adjust for brightness and zoom. Pretty impressive for a Tracfone or Net10 device, I think. Of course, after all is said and done, there is no flash, so the best quality photos will be taken holding the unit very still and in good daylight. The video mode works adequately, as long as you are willing to watch the results on a 2 inch screen or smaller. Sound is fair. Not what I’d call a replacement for a video camera by any means, but I guess it falls into the ‘better than nothing’ category. The options with video are similar to the camera mode, with the addition of ‘Duration’, which can be set to either Normal or Message size.

Extras

The handset common memory is 7MB with an additional Reserved Memory of 3.7MB. It will accept up to a 4GB micro SD card under the battery compartment.

I’ve already described the scheduling/note/organizer capabilities of this phone. The only thing I would have liked added is a tip calculator, which I do use occasionally on my 290c, and voice command would have been nice, as well. But these are minor points.

Preloaded features include 2 games, (Chequered flag and WordAttack). I’m not really a game player, especially on a cell phone, but I know a lot of people enjoy this. The WordAttack game is really good if you are unfamiliar with using a QWERTY keyboard, and will sharpen your skills quickly.

There are 25 mp3 ring tones available, and you can buy additional from TracFone or Net10, or download them to your microSD card free from a multitude of websites such as mobiles24.com. Among the pre-installed ringtones, I did like what they call the ‘vintage telephone’ sound. 11 wallpaper themes are also included as well.

The browser on this phone is open to any site you might want to visit, including Facebook. For those away from a computer, who have infinite patience, and absolutely have to get on Facebook or Twitter, I guess this is an option. Personally, I tried to buy ring tones, surf the web and just navigate around the menus offered by Tracfone. The experience was extremely negative and I was never able to connect to what I wanted to do, even after four or five minutes. You’ll also be unable to view youtube videos, as this phone does not support flash browsing.

Further, your browsing will be somewhat limited by the screen size on this device. If you plan to do a lot of browsing, I’d suggest spending a few more dollars and getting the 800g touch-screen, since it has a larger display.

Another advantage of the touch-screen is that since it doesn’t have a hardware browser button, you’ll avoid the issue of accidentally activating the browser and burning your minutes. If you are very quick, you may avoid the .5 unit charge…sometimes. I’ve hit the browser button accidentally more on this phone than all my previous prepaid phones combined.

One tip I can pass along is don’t use the back button when asked if you want to exit the browser – you’ll be charged for sure. Try hitting the pwr/end key TWO TIMES and hopefully that’ll take care of it. Also, it’s probably a good idea to access the browser via the menu, rather than from the home screen. If you open the browser from the home screen, you’ll be charged airtime almost immediately while the browser loads your home page. On the other hand, if you want to go to a specific site, you can enter the URL in the browser menu before you open the browser, thus saving minutes by going directly to your desired page rather than loading the home page first.

Finally, my experience with the mp-3 player has been positive, with the exception of the load times being very long – probably due to a puny processor. The sound quality is much better than I expected and the speaker sounds pretty good even with the phone lying on it. Volume levels are good in such a small package. Using stereo earbuds improved the sound quality even more for me. Once you take the time to create your own playlists, you have a fairly nice music player and I believe that most people won’t need to carry another one around with you.

Summary

In conclusion, I’m thankful that Tracfone has finally released a full QWERTY phone. It handles very well, feels great in use and has excellent battery capacity. Text messaging is a breeze once you get used to the small size of the keys (this shouldn’t take long). The web browser leaves a lot to be desired, as does the position of the browser button. The video quality is below par, but the still camera is average to good. If you’re looking for an inexpensive QWERTY phone with a decent mp3 player and a few other extras, I think you could do a lot worse than the LG500G by Tracfone and Net10.

Of course, there are a few other things to consider. On the TracFone side of things, the LG 800g touch screen is about the same price, when you factor in the free 60-minute phone card bundled with the phone from TracFone.com. Many heavy texters will prefer the hardware QWERTY on this 500g, but other users might like the sleek look and larger screen of the LG 800g.

And for Net10 users, the LG 900g also offers a bigger screen and more robust camera (2.0 mp vs. 1.3 mp). And depending on where and when you are looking, you might find the 900g for about the same price as the 500g.

I think that the 500g has its place, though, and is sure to please people that decide to buy it. Whether you’re talking about the 900g, 800g, or 500g, I think all these phones are a good value for the money, and you won’t be disappointed if you’re upgrading from a previous prepaid phone.

Click on one of the links below to check the prices on these phones from TracFone and Net10:

TracFone

Net10

June TracFone Promo Codes

I’ve updated the TracFone Promo Code database for the month of June, 2011. Please click here the full list.
Below is a list of the newest codes added to the database:

  • 58906 for 30 bonus minutes on a 60-minute card
  • 67861 for 60 bonus minutes on a 120-minute card
  • 85416 for 20 bonus minutes on a 120-minute card
  • 81502 for 20 bonus minutes on a 120-minute card
  • 81898 for 80 bonus minutes on a 200-minute card
  • 86290 for 50 bonus minutes on a 200-minute card
  • 88398 for 40 bonus minutes on a 200-minute card
  • 88827 for 30 bonus minutes on a 200-minute card
  • 21480 for 300 bonus minutes on a 400-minute, one-year card

The codes that I’ve put in bold text above are those that I believe are excellent bargains this time around.

LG 500g Review Part 2

As I mentioned in a separate post yesterday, this model is now available for Net10 as well as TracFone.

Here’s part 2 of the review. I’ll wrap up the review Friday with the third and final part. If you are looking for the first part, or other info about this phone, check out the LG 500g review index.

External/Appearance

Besides the dimensions, weight and the fact that I’ve already stated that I really like the ‘feel’ of this handset, it comes in a black, smooth finish. The back cover seems semi matte to me, but in general it’s another ‘slippery’ phone. On the plus side, it slips into and out of a jean pocket or other compartment nicely, aided too by its rounded edges and thin profile. Negatively, it is easily dropped, which I can attest to, having lost out to gravity at least 4 times so far, once with the back cover flying off. So far, the phone is no worse for that wear.

The LG logo appears just under the front screen, and is repeated on the lower back cover. The Tracfone swirl logo is also on the back cover, just under the camera lens, which indicates in writing, ‘1.3 mega pixels’. Two speaker slots are just to the left of the camera lens. On the left upper side is the covered mini USB port for charging and connection of a data cable. On the top of the phone you’ll find a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The right upper side has up and down volume control buttons. I suppose this is a matter of personal preference, but I actually prefer that the volume rocker switch be on the upper left side of the phone – that way, when talking on the phone and holding it in your right hand, the controls are easily manipulated by your index finger. With the volume on the left side of the device, right-handed phone holders will use their thumb to control the volume during a call, which I find more cumbersome.

The screen shows the typical Tracfone info: signal strength, amount of battery charge, date and time, (after the handset is activated). It also displays when the phone is in ‘home’ or ‘roam’ areas, and can display the number of minutes and service days left. The top rows of keys and their “home screen” function, from left to right are: Send, Menu, 4-way central keys, browser button and Power/end key. The 4-way central keys bring up the following when hit: Left – camera or video; Up – Games and Apps, (two games are included and you can buy others); Right – MP-3 player; Down – Contact list. The center button apparently takes you to the Prepaid menu. I have not found anyway to change these selections and assume they are not programmable.

When I first saw the tiny QWERTY keyboard, I thought it would be a big problem for someone with large hands and fingers like me, but it has proven to be no problem to use and I’ve gotten pretty fair at ‘bilateral thumbing’ input on this handset. There is a nice, positive click with each key press. For anyone that likes texting a lot, this is the Tracfone for you. I would say the build quality of the handset is good to very good. It feels great, looks good and slides in and out of pockets really easily.

General Phone Function

The signal strength for the almost 3 weeks I’ve been testing it, has always been between 4-5 bars. I would rate call quality as very good to excellent. Possibly not on a par with the Motorola w376g, but certainly as good as the LG600g, 231c or 290c. The very first call I placed, to a landline resulted in a dropped call after approx. 5-6 minutes. This has not repeated with over a dozen outgoing calls and I’ve never experienced a problem with an incoming call. As for in-call volumes, I’d rate them very good in general. In noisy situations in-call volume is average. The speakerphone is excellent; as with most Tracfones, it can only be activated after a call is in progress. Ring tone volumes are adequate, (adjustable from 0 to 7), I find 5 adequate for indoor use, and 7 pretty loud to me. I keep it on 6 for general use.

You can assign specific ring tones to your contacts or groups, but it is a bit cumbersome as the option is hidden when you edit contact detail. When editing contacts, you’ll need to go to options>add detail>ringtone. You can then change the ringtone for that particular contact. There are nine speed dial slots available.

As mentioned earlier in this review, I consider battery life as very good to excellent, for a phone with video capability, an MP-3 player and bluetooth function, which can all be battery drains. With moderate to heavy testing, the charge has been easily lasting 7 days. Perhaps the use of a 950mAh battery explains this.

Display/Keypad

I find the display bright and pretty sharp. Of course it loses some clarity if viewed on an angle, but not as bad as some former models. When viewing a slideshow of photos and allowing for the 1 ½” wide screen, I’d say clarity was good.

All bets are off, however if you attempt to view this screen in direct sunlight – I couldn’t see it at all. I use a black background for my wallpaper, so I switched to a white background to see if this improved the problem. No, I still thought the battery had died and the phone was off! If you have to use it outdoors, look for a shaded area.

Another negative for me is navigating the menus. I find it very counter-intuitive. Why LG would change what I considered one of their strong points is a puzzle. The menu on my LG290c is a breeze to navigate, (granted, I’ve been using it much longer than this 500g, but there are big differences). The menu options are numbered on the 290c, so all you need to do is hit the number and you are brought to the menu item. You can also try this on the 500g, but you need to count to the icon you wish to hit. So, it becomes just as easy to simply scroll to the menu item. (Trust me, its just more difficult and it didn’t have to be).

The nine menu options on the 500g screen are: Prepaid – Contacts – Messages – Recent Calls – My Folder – Games & Apps – Tools – Settings – Browser. These seem fairly standard. My confusion starts when we get to the submenus. Let me describe what I had to discover just to silence the annoying sound the keystrokes make on this handset. You need to go into Settings, then Profiles, then choose between Normal, Silent, Outdoor, Flight Mode, and three called Customized 1, 2 or 3. Then, after you select one, your choices become Edit – View – Rename. Going into Edit you can finally scroll down to keystroke sound and choose between ‘no sound’ or two really obnoxious sounds for every time you hit a key stroke. AND you can scroll down again and make that annoying sound softer or louder. Very confusing and I’m not ashamed to admit, without a users manual, it took me the better part of the first weekend I had this phone to figure out how to silence the keystrokes.

Ending this section on a positive note, texting with the QWERTY keyboard is wonderful, and once you’ve used it you’ll never want to go back to not having it. The tactile feel of the key return is excellent, as is the general comfort of holding this handset.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I’ll post the final portion of the review on Friday, including the conclusion and overall recommendation. If you want to look for more info in the mean time, you might want to check out the review index page.

TracFone

Net10

New QWERTY phones to Net10 – LG 500g and LG 501c

Perhaps is not such big news for Net10 users as it was for TracFone customers, but Net10 has added two more QWERTY phones to its lineup. Both are NOW AVAILABLE on Net10.com. The first is the GSM LG 500g, which has been available for TracFone for over a month now. On the CDMA side, there’s the LG 501c. These two devices appear to be very similar in design, but the CDMA version unfortunately lacks an mp3 player and has only a VGA (0.3 megapixel) camera, whereas 1.3 mp has become the norm for TracFone and Net10.

As I said, this news isn’t as exciting as when the LG 800g and the 500g launched for TracFone, as those two devices were the first touch-screen and QWERTY handsets, respectively, for Trac users. On the other hand, Net10 already had several QWERTY phones in the form of the Samsung r355c and r451c (now sold out) on the CDMA side, and the Samsung t401g and t404g as well as the newer LG 900g on GSM. So the introduction of the QWERTY phones will make less of a splash in the Net10 world.

 

 

Still, these phones might fill a gap in Net10′s offering. The 500g is a little more compact than the LG 900g and, at $29.99,  $10 cheaper . And the $39.99 LG 501c is significantly cheaper ( by a whopping $60) than the r355c, the only other CDMA QWERTY option on Net10.

If you’ve been looking for a low-priced Net10 QWERTY phone, one of these models might be the one that you’ve been waiting for. Click here to check them out at Net10.com. If you do it soon, you’ll be able to take advantage of free overnight shipping. And most people seem to have luck getting a $5 discount with the promo code “GI2011.”

One last note, I haven’t found any concrete confirmation at this time that the LG 501c will be available on TracFone, but I’m optimistic that it will be sometime soon. That would be welcomed as it would give TracFone CDMA users a QWERTY option. If I learn more about this, of course I will post it on this blog.

Tomorrow, I’ll have part 2 of the LG 500g review.

LG 500g Review Part 1

LG 500G for Tracfone

This is another contribution from my friend “Otis 226,” who frequently posts in the comments section on this blog. With me being so busy with moving my family into a new house, Otis 226 kindly agreed to contribute his thoughts on this model for a LG 500g review on this blog. I have also tested it personally, and contributed to his conclusions where I felt it necessary for clarification or to offer a different point of view.

LG 500g picture

LG 500g for TracFone

I definitely agree with his opinions the vast majority of the time, though. Here is what he had to say:

This is the much-awaited full QWERTY keyboard phone that Tracfone released a few weeks ago [Update 6/8/11: It is now available for Net10 as well]. It operates on the GSM band, as the ‘G’ in the name indicates. Before I get into the pros and cons of this handset, I must say I’ve had a lot of fun and some frustration checking it out. I will make a fair number of comparisons with the phone I currently use as my ‘main’ Tracfone, the LG290c. When appropriate, I’ll try to compare it to other Tracfone models I’ve had some experience with. Right off, this phone just feels good in my hand. I liked that the very first time I picked it up, and still do.

The first weekend I had it, I brought it along to a botanic garden I visited, and used the camera, video recorder and the MP-3 player. This was all before the phone was even activated.

The handset measures 4.58×2.35×0.51 in. and weighs in at a comfortable 2.93 oz., about the same as the LG231c flip phone, and a nice change after the bulkier 290c. It is powered by a 950mAh Lithium Ion battery, (LGIP-531A) rated at 3.7v. Standby time is rated at up to 9 days and talk time, up to 5 hours on a charge. My testing in the first week used the phone’s functions heavily and battery capacity seemed excellent, so I have no reason to doubt these claims.

The screen is just slightly smaller than that of the LG290c, but a larger font seems to make up for that. Both phones screens seemed equally sharp and clear to me. In full sun, however, it is very difficult to make out what’s on the screen. I tried it with both white and black backgrounds, and it didn’t seem to help either way.

There is room for 1,000 contact entries in the phone book, 500 text messages, 100 calendar entries and 100 To-Do list entries. You can also store 50 each of notepad and “secret” notes, (with 1,000 character capacity ), 50 bookmarks and 100 entries of call history. The ability to use five separate alarms is also available. I have no idea if any of these numbers can be increased using the external memory, but I doubt it. A nice feature with the alarm function is that it will work even when the phone is powered off and then give you the option of keeping the phone on or letting it stay off.

Text messages are limited to 1600 characters and 160 characters per page, (something I found out by being the wordy person I am – the first test text msg. I sent cost me 1.5 units, as it was 3 pages long!) There is 7 mb of built-in memory, and the micro SD card slot will accept a card up to 4gb, no larger.

This handset does come with the DMFL feature, a 1.3 mp camera, and video recording capability. Bluetooth connectivity appears to be full and unlocked by Tracfone with this model. There is a voice recorder, which gives the option of making your recordings ‘MMS msg. size, 30 sec, and 1 min. or no limit as to time. There is not any voice activation or voice command features with this handset.

Getting to my first major pet peeve about the LG500G, there is no full manual for this phone, which really makes no sense to me at all, since there is one for the LG800G, as well as the LG501C model, which hasn’t even been released by Tracfone as yet, though it is showing up on their activation phone list and should be coming soon.

Well, that’s all I’m going to cover for this installment of the review. In a few days I’ll post more details, and wrap things up at the end of the week. If you can’t wait that long, though, I’ll let you in on my conclusion – the 500g is a pretty good little phone for the money! If you want to order from TracFone.com now, click here, or for Net10, click here. And don’t forget to use promotional code GI2011 (on either site) when you check out to save $5 off the total price.

Also, as I write this, TracFone is offering free overnight shipping as part of their Father’s Day promotion, so you can take advantage of that too.

As I said, I’ll be posting more about this phone shortly. You can follow along with all the updates on the LG 500g on the LG 500g review index page.

LG 800g is back at TracFone.com

Well, it looks like I was premature a couple of days ago when I said that eBay was the only place to get a TracFone LG 800g any more. Just one day after I made that comment, the phone went back up on TracFone’s site.

So now my eBay auction isn’t such a hot deal any more (if you bid on the auction and would like to rescind your bid, I completely understand – in that case, contact me through the eBay system and I’ll work with you).

But more importantly, the good deal at TracFone.com is back. You can get the LG 800g touch screen plus a 60-minute phone card ($20 value) for $49.99. It’s also possible that you could use promotional code GI2011 when you check out, and save another $5 to bring your total down to $45. I just tried using this code and it didn’t go through for me, but others have successfully used it in the last few days, so it’s worth trying.

And, in honor of Father’s Day, free overnight shipping is back!

If you missed out last time and want to jump on this deal now please click here to check it out. You might want to hurry, just in case it goes out of stock again. And don’t forget to try the discount code – GI2011!

TracFone

Samsung r375c Review

Samsung r375c Review

In addition to the LG 511c slider/touch, screen combo, the Samsung r375c is another CDMA phone apparently headed to Straight Talk sometime soon. And you’re probably sick of hearing me say it by this point, but I don’t know how long it will be until we actually be able to buy this phone from Straight Talk, but when it’s available I’ll do my best to get a helpful Samsung r375c review posted soon thereafter. I will then use this page as an index of all info related to the phone. For now, though, here’s a little basic info about this device:

Picture for Samsung r375c review

Samsung r375c

Basically, the Samsung r375c is a slab-style phone with a qwerty keyboard below the screen on the front. I think it’s going to be a Straight Talk handset at this time, but it looks like there’s also a chance TracFone and/or Net10 users will get a shot at this one as well.

Below is a brief feature list:

  • 1.3 Megapixel Camera (unfortunately no video recording ability)
  • MP3 Player
  • MicroSD Card Slot
  • Alarm Clock
  • Bluetooth Capable
  • HAC Compatible
  • Handsfree Speaker
  • Mobile Web
  • Phone Book with up to 1,000 Entries
  • Ringtones Download
  • Text/Picture Messaging
  • Vibration Alert
  • Voice Command

It’s hard for me to tell at this point what differentiates this phone from the year-old Samsung r355c, which is available from Straight Talk and Net10. They look very similar, and based on this I expect the pricing to be very comparable as well. That’s all I’ve got for now, but please keep this page in mind and visit again once the phone is available. I’ll update the page with more info as I work on the review.

StraightTalk.com