Bringing back the “enV” name, the LG enV Touch (VX-11000) is the upgrade to the popular LG Voyager (VX-10000), which was released in late 2007. The phone keeps the same form factor as its predecessor, but is now slimmer and more stylish. The enV Touch has many new features, normally found in more expensive devices, such as video editing and a office document viewer.
LG enV Touch VX-11000 Specifications:
- Provider: Verizon Wireless (1.9 GHz /800 MHz CDMA)
- Displays: 3-inch 800 x 480 pixels & 1,600K colors
- Camera: 3.2 Megapixel Camera w/ Autofocus, Flash & Image Editor
- Music: MP3, WMA, Unprotected AAC/AAC+
- Memory: 250Mb (internal) / 16GB microSD (external)
- Battery: 260 Minutes Talk Time & 408 Hours Standby
- Other: Bluetooth 2.1+EDR | Stereo Speakers
The Body: 3.5/5 stars
There is no doubt that the enV Touch is a large phone; 4.5 inches tall, 2 inches wide, and over a half inch thick. Despite being a tad bit too large, it actually looks a whole lot more attractive than the Voyager and the Dare. The back of the phone features a soft rubberized texture with a unique engraved pattern which offers a decent grip. The left side has the camera trigger, volume toggle, and the display lock button. A 3.5mm headphone jack and a microSD slot can be found on the right side. On the bottom you’ll find the microUSB connector which serves two purposes: charging and data transfer. The face of the phone has a large 3-inch touch screen and three “brushed metal”-looking physical buttons at the bottom: send, clear, and end. The clear key seconds as the voice command button when on the home page and initiates voice memo recordings when held down. When you flip open the phone you are introduced to another 3-inch display, stereo speakers, a full QWERTY keyboard, and a navigation D-pad. Compared to the Voyager, the keyboard now has larger keys and remains well spaced at the same time. LG has finally placed repositioned the “space bar” to the center of the keyboard instead of two “space bars” on the bottom left and right as they were on the LG Voyager, LG enV2, and LG enV. Overall, though the enV Touch isn’t the most compact phones I’ve had for what it offers, but remains functional and isn’t too large to fit into an average sized pocket or purse.
The Displays: 4/5 stars
We were quite impressed with the resolution and the colors of the displays. The enV Touch’s 800 x 480 pixel display has a higher resolution than the iPhone’s 480 x 320 pixel screen. Both photos and videos look great on both screens. The external display also uses a sensor that dims out the screen as you hold it up to your ear, but I found this to be sometimes problematic since it often didn’t turn back on if I were to try to use the interface during a call. The only way I managed to get the screen working again was to either flip open the phone or by placing my finger over the sensor for a second and then moving it away. Other than that small annoyance, the displays are bright, sharp, and even looks decent outdoors.
User Interface: 4/5
The enV Touch has a similar interface to the Voyager and like its predecessor, duplicates features on the external and internal display. However, not all features on the external work from the internal, and vice versa. For example, photo editing only functions on the external touch screen. To unlock the phone you must slide up an overlay on the screen or press the lock/unlock button on the side of the phone. The home screen has 5 permanent icons on the bottom: messaging, dialpad, menu, phonebook, and favorites. The favorites menu allows you to set 10 favorite contacts for quick access. In addition 3 “widgets” can be placed anywhere the main page; memo, calendar, and clock. The memo is very similar to a sticky note on a Macs. On the right side of the home screen there is an arrow which links to the shortcut menu, which manages all application/utility shortcuts. Mostly any tool on the phone can be placed in the shortcut menu or can also be placed as an icon on the homepage. The interface on the internal display has a more traditional interface, familiar to that most Verizon Wireless phones. The D-pad can be customized to launch various applications when on the home screen. One major problems I ran into occurred when an application on the internal display then closing the phone would exit out of the application and return to the home screen instead of moving to the outer display. Overall, the interface is very intuitive and for the most part it works seamlessly between the two displays.
Messaging: 5/5 stars
After many iterations of the enV lineup, LG has mastered the messaging feature of this phone. The physical keyboard does not need much of an explanation, it works as it should and feels great. The external display also supports messaging, with support for both a portrait and landscape virtual keyboard. The virtual portrait keyboard does the job just fine for quick responses, but is a bit impractical for typing long messages. The horizontal virtual keyboard works a whole lot better than the portrait and is a viable option. The interface enlarges the letters you hit as they are typed and provide haptic feedback as well. The size of each virtual key and spacing helps the usability experience as well, however the internal physical QWERTY keyboard is by far the best solution for messaging.
Camera & Camcorder: 5/5 stars
The enV Touch has an extremely feature packed camera and camcorder interface not found on other phones. The 3.2 megapixel camera can take photos up in various resolutions up to 2048×1536. It features an unusually bright LED flash, which can automatically turn on in low-light situations. The camera uses the auto-focus setting by default, but can be switched to macro for close-up images as well as a manual focus option. The camera has white balance, brightness, color effects, and self timer settings. In addition to these settings the camera has a couple of “goodies” that you will not see in the typical phone camera. One would be the panorama mode, where the phone will actually guide you through the process of snapping a panoramic photo with on screen instructions and then stitching them together. Another would be the smile detection, where the camera will only snap the photo only once the subject smiles to get the best picture. My favorite by far was the NameCard reader, which lets you snap an image of a physical business card and it uses OCR to extract the name, email, and phone number into your contacts. A built in image editor allows cropping, draw on the image, and adjusting the brightness of the photo.
The camcorder can record clips with a max resolution of 640×480 and offers custom white balance, brightness, and color effects. Most phone’s camcorder functions are rendered useless in the dark, but not the enV Touch. The camcorder can switch on the LED flash during a recording which turned out to help a lot. Finally, the enV Touch does a great job with video editing. One of the much hyped feature on iPhone 3GS was video trimming and this plus much more can be done on the enV Touch. The trim feature allows a simple crop, after choosing a start and end point. But say you wanted to cut together multiple parts of a video, that’s where the multi-trim feature comes in. You can cut together up to 3 different parts of a video (3 different start and end points) and the phone will merge these different parts together into one video. The camera in the enV Touch really stands out because of the depth of options presented and puts it clearly ahead of many other phones in the U.S. Market.
Music: 3.5/5 stars
The enV Touch was designed to work as a full time mp3 player with a set of internal stereo speakers and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The music player is organized by Artists, Genres, and Albums. It can also display album artwork which looks good in its sincere imitation of “cover flow”. The player can create on-the-go playlists and manage music storage between the microSD card and internal memory. Music playback supports shuffle and repeat modes. For listening options, the Dolby settings allows you to toggle between preset equalizers, such as bass booster and classical. Audio playback on the speakers was clear with no crackle, even when turned up all the way. One of the features I liked the most was that music application can run in the background. Performing other tasks such as look up a contact or texting is possible without having to exit the music player. I decided to use my enV Touch when I went for a jog. I found it extremely difficult to use the external display to navigate through songs. In addition to the poor visibility due to sunlight, it was difficult to even manage to click the next button or pause my music. Some external controls for music would have gone a long way. Overall the music player felt solid, keeps getting better, and usable but not polished, it needs to be put back in the oven for a bit longer.
Syncing: 4.5/5 stars
The enV Touch uses a standard microUSB port to connect to a computer. It can be used in data mode, which shows up as an USB Mass Storage Device on a computer and allows you to manually transfer photos, documents, and music to the microSD card. The other option is to use the phone in music mode, in which it can be synced with the Verizon V Cast Music with Rhapsody program or with Windows Media Player as an MP3 player. The charger is also modular, the AC adapter is actually a USB charger. The same cable needs to be disconnected and is used to sync with your computer. One small quirk I noticed was the fact that the phone significantly heated up while charging. It wasn’t too hot that I’d be concerned about the phone getting damaged, however constant heat isn’t good for batteries, meaning a reduced lifespan.
Document Viewer and Other Features: 4.5/5 stars
The phone offers many other features including the now standard world clock, tip calculator, and alarm clock. The one feature that stood out the most was the document viewer, an application not usually found on a non-smartphone. The viewer can read, .doc, .docx, .xls, .xslx, .ppt, .pptx, .pdf, and .txt files. The documents loaded fairly quickly and were fairly readable once zoomed in. I found using the Document Viewer more pleasurable than the iPhone. Mainly since I could simply copy them straight over to the phone’s storage or microSD, rather than having to email them to myself as you have to do on the iPhone.
After using the enV touch for a few weeks, it has left us with a very good impression. I would say as of now, it is the best non-smartphone on the Verizon Wireless network. It has an amazing display, two displays to be correct, and excellent media features. It supports a full HTML web-browser, VZ Navigator, V-Cast videos, voice commands, and text to speech. If you are looking for a new phone and just can’t justify paying those required high rates for data plans associated with smartphones, the enV Touch is a no brainier. It has a solid set of features that just about everyone from a casual consumer to a tech-junkie can appreciate. It is available online and in Verizon Wireless stores now for $150 for new customers. Existing customers eligible for upgrade should be able to knock off about $50 to $100 based of the type of calling plan they currently have.