AT&T first launched its live streaming mobile TV service, AT&T Mobile TV, in April 2008, and since then there have only been two devices that would support it--the LG Vu and the Samsung Access. The LG Vu appears to be the flagship product because of its wide display and touch-screen interface, while the Samsung Access was the smaller midrange offering. Well now there's a third phone to add to the lineup, and it's called the LG Invision. It essentially mirrors the Samsung Access in terms of features but with the added bonus of 3G. It also has a much smaller design and a much lower price--only $79.99 with a two-year service agreement and mail-in rebate. If you want AT&T Mobile TV but aren't a fan of touch-screen handsets, we would definitely recommend the Invision. Note that AT&T Mobile TV isn't available in several markets in the U.S., so check before you buy.
At first glance, we thought the LG Invision looked uncannily like the Samsung Access because of its short and wide design. Up close, however, there are some noticeable differences. It is much smaller at 4.05 inches tall by 2.08 inches wide by 0.47 inch thick, making it one of the thinnest phones we've seen. The Invision is black all around except for chrome edging, and the back is clad in a rubberized texture that feels a little like faux leather. Its overall aesthetic is that of a sleek business calculator, which we rather liked.
On the front of the Invision is the 2.2-inch display, which isn't that much smaller than the Access's 2.29-inch one. Even though the Invision has only 65,000-color support, it still manages to pull off an amazing looking 320x240-pixel resolution screen. Graphics look vibrant and vivid with color. You can change the backlight timer, the brightness, menu styles, and the size and color of the dialing font.
The other big design difference between the Invision and the Access is the Invision's rather unusual keypad and navigation array. For one thing, the bottom three keys normally found on a keypad are now rearranged to flank the right side, which contributes to the short and wide feeling of the phone. We think it'll take some time for people to get used to this new keypad arrangement, especially for dialing and texting. The keys themselves felt easy to press.
As for the navigation array, the four-way toggle is actually positioned as a cross inset in the middle of the keypad. We initially thought this would make the keys feel a little too cramped, but the keypad is so wide that it doesn't feel too bad. That said, people with larger fingers might have more of a problem. The four-way toggle also doubles as shortcuts to a new text message, the instant messenger application, the contacts list, and the My Stuff folder. The middle OK key is also a shortcut to the browser application when in standby mode.
Aside from the four-way toggle, the navigation array also has the typical two soft keys, a Clear/Back key, a Send key, and the End/Power key. There's also a dedicated TV button that is a shortcut to AT&T Mobile TV. On the left spine of the Invision are a microSD card slot, a volume rocker, and a charger jack. On the right spine are a dedicated camera button and a multitask key that lets you switch between different applications. On the back is the camera lens, but note there is no self-portrait mirror.
The Invision has a pretty dinky phone book with room for only 500 contacts. However, each entry has room for two phone numbers, an e-mail address, and a memo. Each contact can be assigned to groups, paired with a photo for caller ID, and one of 10 polyphonic MP3 ringtones. Other basic features include a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, text and multimedia messaging, a tip calculator, a calculator, an alarm clock, a world clock, a calendar, a notepad, a stopwatch, a tasks list, a unit converter, and a countdown timer. More advanced features include voice command, stereo Bluetooth, instant messaging (AOL, Windows Live, and Yahoo), and mobile Web e-mail (AOL, AIM, Windows Live Hotmail, Bellsouth, AT&T Yahoo, and other providers). It also has a wireless Web browser.