Verizon Tempts With LG Chocolate

dell takes a slice at apple with super thin latitude z dellz closed

Verizon Wireless has launched the slim-and-tiny LG Chocolate mobile phone in the U.S., combining music, camera, and mobile phone capabilities with microSD memory expansion and Verizon’s V CAST mobile services like downloadable music, video, and the VZ Navigator direction service.

“In a world where quality wireless service is a table-stake, Chocolate sets a new standard for wireless handsets,” said John Stratton, Verizon Wireless vice president and chief marketing officer. “This is a lifestyle device that reflects the discerning taste of a customer who relies upon the Verizon Wireless network to stay connected, but wants a device that speaks to the innovation and personalization that can be achieved with music.”

The LG Chocolate has proven very popular in Korea: it’s a slider phone measuring just 3.8 inches long, 1.88 inches wide, and 0.69 inches deep and weighing just 3.53 ounces. The unit sports a 320 by 240 pixel colro display, a 1.3 megapixel camera/camcorder with 2x digital zoom, a microSD slot for add-on memory storage (SanDisk just announced 2GB microSD cards debuting with the Chocolate phone), a built-in speaker, and extrenal navigation keys accessible when the phone is closed. The Chocolate also offers Bluetooth 1.1 wireless technology (for supporting headsets, handsfree, dial-up networking, and Object Push, but not OBEX transfers), and features built-in games, optional access to Verizon’s V CAST music and video services, as well as VZ Navigator, which provides turn-by-turn voice-prompted point-to-point directions using GPS technology. And, of course, the phone is Internet-capable offering instant messaging and mobile Web-surfing capabilities.

As a music phone, the LG Chocolate is commanding some attention for its expandable external storage and its capability to play both WMA audio and standard MP3 files, enabling many users to bring their personal music collections to their phones, rather than bein forced to repurchase music (at a $1.99 per track from V CAST) if they want to hear it on their phones. Verizon offers two other phones (one from LG and one from Samsung) which support MP3 playback, but the feature has “temporarily” been disabled by a software upgrade, enraging some users. Verizon says it’s working to fix the problem on those phones.

The Chocolate is priced at $149.99 through Verizon after rebate with a two-year service agreement.