"Voice Dial Destroyed - Outstanding LG Quality Otherwise"4.0 starson by Zaphod B. Goode
Pros: Built like an M-1 Abrams tank; Stunning graphics theme options; Ergonomically flawless; Amazing battery life out-of-the-box.
Cons: User-recorded voice-matching eliminated in favor of text "recognition" matching; No camera lens cover; No redesign of the bizarre charge jack/plug.
Summary: I had traded in my old LG VX6000 for a Motorola Razr V3m, only to return the Razr in disgust three days later and swap for this VX8300, and the difference is nothing short of stunning. (You can read my rant on the shortcomings of the Razr V3m on that phone's page if you're into post-mortems.)
Everything that was wrong with the Razr - the awkward (and frankly cheap-looking) design and placement of the controls, the horrible battery life, the lack of a camera flash - are done flawlessly on the LG. The side buttons are located on the body, not the lid, which means they're easily accessible with one hand; the keypad buttons are "bumpy" enough to provide some tactile feedback; the speakerphone button is on the keypad where it should be, not on the side of the lid. I was flat-out amazed at the battery longevity of the LG compared with the Razr. With the latter, the thing would die after three or four hours of use. Though I assume that particular battery may just have needed the standard NiCad discharge/recharge breaking-in cycles to reach its full potential, the LG's battery, after I'd fully charged it, stayed at >full charge for three full days< before the first bar in the icon disappeared! The camera has an LED flash, and the photo quality rivals that of my 5.2 megapixel digital camera.
I would have liked a simple sliding cover to protect the lens - which another phone, I think the Samsung, has. Another minor problem is that if you put the leather case on the phone you have to detach the flap for the upper section before taking pix, because it gets in the way - but that's more the fault of the case design.
The two flubs that LG committed with this phone - for which I docked it two points - are the continued presence of a charger jack/plug that can only be described as weird, and, most consistently irritating, the willful destruction of the VX6000's excellent, functional, no-brainer-perfect-must-have voice dial.
DC power only requires two conductors - positive and negative - to function. For whatever bizarre reason, LG decided to go with a wide, flat connector/plug combination for its chargers, rather than a simple miniature single-prong jack and plug. The VX6000's had what appeared to be several thousand tiny conductors, which would cross and short, causing the fuse for my car's cigarette lighter to blow. The VX8300 has that same Weirdo Theater Frankenstein's Lab connector/plug combination, but I looked at it with an eye loupe and it looks like they've pared down the number of conductors to a mere six. It's working so far, but I dread the day when my car charger bites it and my ACC fuse gets blown yet again. I flatly refuse to contort myself into that tortured Cirque de Soleil mutation in order to reach my Honda's fuse panel ever again. At that point I'll just have to schlep my desk charger wherever I go. Fortunately, since the VX8300 battery apparently lasts forever this may not be much of a problem.
But the voice dial...! Ohboy. With the VX6000, when you entered a new contact name and number in the Contact list, you had the option of recording, with your own voice, the name into memory. The phone would prompt you for two spoken versions of the name, presumably to give it a range of tonal variance for more accuracy and less need to repeat.
When you wanted to call, you'd simply push the voice dial button at lower left, wait for the phone to say "Say a name...," then say the name. That was it. The phone would dial the number and you were off on your way.
For whatever reason, LG decided to dumb down its voice dial function to the level of other manufacturers, most notably the Razr, which has the identically-irritating setup.
Here's how it works now: You push the voice dial button. So far so good. The phone prompts, not for the name, but "Say a command..." You have to say "Call," or "Open the garage door," or "Take out the trash," or whatever other non-voice-dial function I'll never use but is nonetheless available.
After you've said "Call," the phone promts a second time, "Say a name or number." Like the Razr, you can't enter that name in your own voice at the time you enter the name and number into the Contacts list. Instead, the phone's electronics try - quite badly - to guess what the text you entered for that person's name should sound like. I don't know what bizarre algorithm is being used here, but not one of the contacts I have entered are pronounced in the way that algorithm thinks they should sound like. As I mentioned in the Razr review, a frequent contact is called "Berg" - which the automated voice dial thinks should be pronounced "Bearrje," in a nasally mechanized twang. For this name, and every single other one on my list (and they're fairly ordinary Joe-average names textually,) the phone invariably fails to match my voice with its interpretation of the text. It will ask "Did you say: ______?" After which you're presumably supposed to say "Yes" - which the voice match algorithm also fails to recognize.
After three or four repeats and "Voice recognition timed out" announcements, I generally have to bag it, go into Contacts, and just pick the name off the list.
So a big thumbs-down for this gigantic technological step >>backward<< for voice dial function.
For all practical purposes the voice dial feature has been eliminated from this phone - and others using the same idiotic system. Whoever thought it was a good idea to ditch the perfectly-functional user-recorded voice matching method, needs to be slapped. Hard.
Other than that essential correction for LG's successor to the VX8300, and hopefully a more conventional DC jack and plug, the VX8300 is phenomenal. The switch from the Razr to the LG was like going from a rental Chevy to a Lexus.