Possibly following the rules which govern the hideous names celebrities give to their children, LG have christened their phone "Chocolate". Intriguing though that is, the phone itself is actually quite a change from LG handsets of old in that this is one that you might actually consider purchasing.
Clearly LG knew that their usual brand of bargain basement handsets and packaging could not continue should they want to be seen as a serious contender in the lucrative mobile phone market. Maybe that's why as soon as you set your eyes on the box you know that the Korean manufacturer has gone out of their way to produce something from their norm.
Inside, the phone is presented within a velvet pouch, albeit one that is just a bit too small for the phone. Nevertheless the phone slips out smoothly thanks to it's polished plastic surfaces and you are left with a black ingot of a phone which just oozes quality.
The chrome on black effect works whether you are at work or in a club. Invisible until you slide the screen up, the surface navigation buttons light up bright red and the contrast against the piano gloss black is stunning. Credit is certainly due to whoever thought of the colour scheme as it works extremely well.
The spring loaded slide action feels smooth and effortless. Upon sliding the top half upwards you are presented with a large numeric keypad. The attention to detail continues with LG making a chequered pattern of matt and glossy keys. The keys themselves are man-sized, allowing easy texting.
LG's decision to put the call accept and menu navigation keys on the top of the phone means that you find yourself working with the somewhat awkward keylock procedure. Because the navigation keys visually resemble Apple's scroll wheel I found myself using it like one. While this will work sometimes, you have to remember that are four other keys present at each corner so its best to use them as single click buttons.
The screen is bright and works well outdoors. Physically itís certainly big enough and pictures taken with the 1.3 megapixel camera display nicely on it. When the screen is slid down, it dims smoothly back to sleep.
The cameraís credentials are fine if all you want to do is keep snaps on the phone. The flash is like most built-in phone flash units, useless. However I like the software interface of the camera, with brightness and zoom very easily adjustable. Just don't expect to become David Bailey with a mobile.
Probably the best technical feature of the Chocolate is witnessed when you connect it to your computer. Unlike most phones this one appears as a removable disk much like your USB key. There's only 128Mb of space but the Chocolate becomes a handy memory stick as well as a phone, without the need to install any special drivers.
As you are limited to 128Mb, there isn't a huge amount of space for music but MP3 playback is good sporting an equalizer. Not only does LG include some decent headphones but the remote control styled in a similar vein as the phone, that is, classy.
In trying to reach optimal style, LG have made some curious ergonomic decisions. The minute dedicated hang-up button is on the side of the phone rather than next to the pick-up button. To make matters worse its right next to the MP3 button which thankfully is disabled while on a call. Of course as a "slider" phone, you just slide the top piece down to end the call but nevertheless very odd.
All "wired" connectivity occurs through one port which is located on the right side of the device. Having to go with a proprietary connection rather than USB, both the remote for the headphones, supplied, and the battery charger all use this port. For wireless connectivity, there's only Bluetooth.
I was expecting LG to make a hash of the navigation system but to be fair it works very well. Don't get me wrong, it's no Nokia but after 15 minutes I had got used to it. The icons are well designed, clear and colourful. You can't help but feel LG are punching way above their weight here.
Battery life is good too, I managed to get around a week on standby but expect that to go drastically down when you use it to play music or calls/texts. In general use I still managed to get around four days.
We got our unit from T-Mobile and the network operator has made few physical alterations with no livery anywhere on the phone. The main menu does feature T-Mobile's logo for the Internet browser. Selecting this connects to the operator's website. As is usual, a T-Mobile based theme comes installed but five minutes of tinkering removes that.
With the KG800 ďChocolateĒ, LG are really punching above their weight. The fit and finish of this handset and the accessories around it is simply sublime. Would I get this handset over say the Nokia 8800 or the new Motorola Rzr K1? Certainly the 8800 is overpriced, lacking in features and too heavy while the Rzr K1 deems a second look (which itíll get in the coming weeks).
Probably the greatest thing going for the Chocolate is that itís not very common and considering you can pick up this handset for nothing on most contracts I would say look beyond the brand name and give some serious thought to the Chocolate, because it deserves it.