Hands-on with the LG Voyager

There is certainly a substantial amount of hype built around LG's latest stab at the QWERTY phone market for Verizon Wireless -- the VX10000 Voyager -- and it isn't without merit. For starters, the feature-packed candybar sports a 2.81 inch exterior touchscreen paired with second display of equal size and a full keyboard on the inside. In the media department, the handset features a 2 megapixel camera with autofocus, video camera, expandable memory via microSD up to 8GB, and VCAST services of both the Music and TV varieties. Do the features stack up in Verizon's favor? Does the Voyager live up to the hype or will it fall short of expectations? Continue reading to find out.

The Voyager shares the same style as its older stablemates, the VX9800 and VX9900, and is built on a candybar form factor that opens to reveal a full QWERTY keyboard. Coming in at 4.64 x 2.12 x 0.71 and weighing in at just under 4.69 ounces, the phone takes the crown for being the smallest of the trio but comes in second place to the VX9900 in the weight category by a mere .09 ounces -- a negligible difference, we'd wager. Instead of outfitting the front of the Voyager with the small, cramped LCD and standard numeric keypad from its predecessors, LG uses a generously sized touchscreen here that provides haptic feedback while pressing the screen and a standard, non-touch display on the inside. Both screens run at 400 x 240 resolution while serving up 262,000 colors. We found both displays to be generally usable in either indoor or outdoor lighting conditions and only had one instance where it was unusable in direct sunlight.

Onto the keyboard -- first, the Voyager's internal QWERTY keyboard shares a similar layout to its older siblings with individually lit keys. There are minor cosmetic differences that surround the trim of the keys, and they seem to be grouped slightly closer together. The exterior touchscreen is, of course, the VX10000's main attraction. The phone has two separate ways of unlocking the touchscreen; the first is from an icon on the display and the other is a slide key located on the left hand side of the phone. Once the device is unlocked, the user is presented with four menu options as icons along the bottom, each providing a unique function: Messaging, Phone, Full Menu, and Contacts. On an additional menu, shortcuts are available when the screen is touched. One thing that we aren't too fond of is that T9 is the only choice for text messaging from the touchscreen, but then again, you can always swing 'er open and use the physical keyboard.

The exterior display allows the user to control almost every function without the need to open the phone. With each virtual "button" that's pressed, the phone will vibrate to provide positive feedback of a successful keypress. We had some trouble using our fingers to "grab" the menu and move around the phone, though; we often found ourselves attempting to slide the menu down and pressing two or more wrong keys. Bottom line: the Voyager's touchscreen controls don't seem to be as intuitive as the best that we've used, though LG's made a solid effort here.

LG designed the Voyager with an optimized HTML browser that naturally works best over Verizon's EV-DO airwaves. The pages load fairly quickly, and by and large, render correctly. LG added three different ways for the browser to render -- Standard, Screen Optimized, and Text Only -- which should offer a good range of functionality-to-speed ratio depending on the site and the speed of the network.

As we mentioned before, the VX10000 comes outfitted with a 2 megapixel camera with autofocus, and considering the relatively limited resolution, we were pleased. The camera produces great pictures that are sharp with decent color saturation. It may not replace your 8 megapixel point-and-shoot, but for basic tasks, it'll get the job done.

The Voyager's Bluetooth stack left us pretty happy, too. As we've found with most LG phones, pairing our Motorola S9 Bluetooth headset was a breeze. We experienced two hours and forty five minutes of continuous music playing on a full charge. The music was crisp and clean -- by A2DP standards, anyhow.

Overall, the LG Voyager is one of the best, feature-rich phones (without making the jump -- nay, leap of faith -- into smartphone territory) for Verizon to date. From the beautiful exterior touchscreen to the fantastic photos the camera takes, we found that the VX10000 is a top-notch offering for the carrier. Granted, it's not without its occasional faults, but for those of you that have been waiting for Big Red to release something comparable to other carriers' offerings in the high-end dumbphone range, the wait just might be over.