Like the VX8500, the KG800 Chocolate has a rectangular shape that's vaguely reminiscent of a chocolate bar. The sleek form factor and straight lines are familiar as is the basic black color scheme (an all-white model is available as well). The KG800's dimensions (3.7x1.9x0.6 inches) are only slightly different from its cousin's, and it's a tad lighter but still has a comfortable and solid feel in the hand. Just keep in mind that as with other slider designs, the KG800 doesn't cradle your head when held against the ear. The slider mechanism slips up and down easily but firmly; we needed only one finger to make it work.
Though the KG800's display has a slightly lower resolution than the VX8500's, it's still a treat to view. With support for 256,000 colors, the two-inch (176x220 pixels) display shows off everything beautifully, from photos to graphics to its simple, user-friendly menus. The screen is more difficult to see in direct light and disappears completely when the backlighting is off. You can change the backlighting time, the font color, and the brightness.
For menu navigation, the KG800 Chocolate uses the quirky touch-sensitive controls found on the VX8500. But instead of arranging the controls in a wheel, the KG800 puts them in a square. Though we like this version a tad better for aesthetic reasons, the new design doesn't improve usability. The controls still take a lot of acclimation--we didn't know quite where to put our finger at first--and are too sensitive even at the lowest setting. Overall, these flaws caused a lot of misdials. Also, the controls disappear completely when the backlighting is off. The other navigation controls are carried over from the Verizon Chocolate. There are two soft keys, a talk button, and a clear key. They're touch sensitive as well, so you don't get the tactile feel of pressing down on a button.
We've griped about it before and we'll gripe about it again: we can't imagine what LG was thinking when it moved the Chocolate's end/power button to the left spine--we kept forgetting where the control was. A covered headset jack and a dedicated control for launching the camera and the MP3 player sit on the right spine, while a sole volume rocker is on the left spine. The camera lens, flash, and self-portrait mirror are on the rear face of the slider, so you must have it open to take pictures.
While somewhat slippery, the keypad buttons are easy to use and have a slightly better design than on the VX8500. We liked the alternating black and gray color scheme that resulted in a checkered effect. Also it's great that the backlit keys are tactile and have a clear separation between them.
The KG800 Chocolate's phone book holds 1,000 contacts with room in each entry for four numbers and an e-mail address (the SIM card holds an additional 250 names). You can save contacts to groups, pair them with a photo, or assign them one of 44 polyphonic ring tones. Other basics include a vibrate mode, a voice recorder, text and multimedia messaging, an alarm clock, a calculator, a unit converter, a world clock, a calendar, and a memo pad. As for high-end features, there's Bluetooth, e-mail, and USB data storage and transfer capability, and you can use the phone as a modem. Unfortunately, there's no speakerphone or voice dialing. The omission of the former is especially puzzling on such a trendy phone. Verizon released a firmware upgrade to add a speakerphone into its Chocolate; we only hope the same will happen with the KG800.