While the VX8600 is certainly a very design-centric phone, its feature set is pretty impressive, too. It has a 500-entry phone book, and each entry can hold up to five numbers, 2 e-mail addresses, a picture ID, and 1 of 17 polyphonic ring tones, as well as be assigned to a group. Basic but essential features include text and multimedia messaging, instant messaging, speed dialing, a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, voice recording, voice commands including voice dialing, e-mail, a wireless Web browser, a calendar, a calculator, an alarm clock, a world clock, a notepad, and a tip calculator. The VX8600 also has stereo Bluetooth support so that you can use stereo Bluetooth headsets to listen to your music, and VZ Navigator support, which turns your phone into a GPS navigation device.
As with the VX8500, the VX8600 supports V Cast Music and V Cast Video. With V Cast Music, the same restrictions and costs apply--songs downloaded to your PC are 99 cents, while songs downloaded to both your PC and your phone are $1.99 each. Alternatively, you can import your existing music collection from your PC using Verizon's Music Essentials kit, which costs an additional $30. The music player supports both WMA and MP3 files, and music player settings include the ability to create playlists as well as a shuffle mode. Even though we liked the music player's basic interface, it was marred by the touch-sensitive controls we mentioned earlier. Unfortunately, the VX8600 doesn't come with a pair of earbuds, only a headset adapter for you to use your own. On the flip side, V Cast Video gives you access to a wide range of on-demand mobile video content, from music videos to short clips of popular TV shows. You can read more about it in our review of the V Cast service.
The VX8600 comes packed with a 1.3-megapixel camera with 8x zoom that also doubles as a camcorder with 4x zoom. It comes with a slew of options that allow you to make your simple snapshots stand out. You can adjust the resolution (1280x960, 640x480, 320x240, 176x144, 160x120)or the brightness; choose from five white balance settings, three shutter sounds (plus a silent option) and six color effects; and turn night mode on or off. There's also a camera self-timer and the ability to turn the external display into a viewfinder. Camcorder options include brightness and white balance settings, and two recording times (15 seconds for a multimedia message or unlimited according to the available memory). Picture quality was pretty good, though we can't say the same for the shoddy video quality, since it can only record in 176x144 video resolution. On the other hand, that's to be expected from a camera phone.
Personalization options are pretty good on the VX8600. If you aren't satisfied with the included graphics and ring tones, you can purchase and download more via Verizon's Get It Now service. You can also download games and applications, though no games were included in the phone.
We tested the dual-band dual-mode (CDMA 800/1900; EV-DO) LG VX8600 Chocolate in San Francisco using Verizon's service. Call quality was excellent, and callers couldn't even tell we were on a cell phone. Speakerphone quality was pretty good as well. We were quite impressed with the download speed of the phone, thanks to the EV-DO coverage. Downloading a song took less than a minute and Web pages loaded in a few seconds. However, we had mixed performance issues when watching streaming video on V Cast. Some of the videos seemed pixilated, and we experienced a few buffering issues.
We managed to pair the VX8600 with the Cardo Scala 700 Bluetooth headset successfully. The audio quality of the music was pretty impressive. Though listening to the songs via the phone's internal speakers sounded a tiny bit tinny, it still sounded great.
The VX8600 has a rated talk time of 3.6 hours and a rated standby time of 16 days. Our tests showed a talk time of 3 hours and 6 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the LG VX8600 has a digital SAR rating of 0.68 watts per kilogram.
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