Lightning Review: LG Vu for AT&T

The Gadget: LG's Vu, a multimedia touchscreen phone that launches AT&T's mobile TV service, and one of the two biggest phones to debut at CTIA.

Lightning Review: LG Vu for AT&T

Lightning Review: LG Vu for AT&T

Lightning Review: LG Vu for AT&T

Lightning Review: LG Vu for AT&T

Lightning Review: LG Vu for AT&T

Lightning Review: LG Vu for AT&T

Lightning Review: LG Vu for AT&T

Lightning Review: LG Vu for AT&T

Lightning Review: LG Vu for AT&T

Lightning Review: LG Vu for AT&T

Lightning Review: LG Vu for AT&T

Lightning Review: LG Vu for AT&T

Price: $299.99 w/ two-year contract and $100 mail-in rebate.

The Verdict: It's glossy black, so it will attract fingerprints as bad as Heidi Klum does MILF comments. The screen is bright and clear, with a good resolution—necessary, since it's the phone headlining the mobile TV launch.

The edges of the touchscreen are less responsive than the rest of it—when you flip to the QWERTY layout for text messaging, for instance, you might have to tap the space button more than once, or at least aim for the top of it (in the gallery there's a picture of me mashing the center of the key HARD but it's still not registering). The problem grew from sort of annoying to genuinely frustrating after cranking through a couple of IMs and text messages telling my posse where to meet up for Iron Man tonight.

You get a somewhat smaller, more cramped keyboard when you go into email. (Which doesn't have support for custom domains (that's the "other" services screen), including Gmail, WTF.) It also drops haptic feedback for some reason, which I thought was unnecessary at first, but I kind of missed it with the email keyboard. Still, overall I'd give the typing experience a B-.

The other big feature of the phone, mobile TV, is as good as mobile TV gets, at least in the states (which might not be saying much). Startup is quick; changing channels is snappy enough; and the resolution is decent most of the time (it can get 1996-RealPlayer bad though) though it won't rival locally stored video on your iPod or iPhone by any means. Content-wise, it has more or less what you'd wanna see in mobile TV, with the CNN exclusivity being the real clinch over Verizon's V Cast. Sony PIX is a nice idea, but five minutes of dark, moody scenes in Memento gave me a headache, so I couldn't imagine a whole movie.

Bottom line, the phone is good, but falls short of very good/greatness, for a couple of reasons: The browser could use some work (it renders Giz better than mobile IE, since it tries to replicate desktop browsing, but rendering times are awful, even on 3G, and zooming is extremely laggy). Also, built-in email is only for a few set services. The music syncing feature isn't compatible with Macs, according to the manual. That said, it is a solid multimedia touchscreen phone that does most of what it does well (mobile TV, touchscreen, XM radio) for people specifically looking for an iPhone alternative. If it was $199, it'd be a worthy value—$299 is pushing it. [AT&T]