Thanks for the month off. I'm back with comments on how the latest cell phones grab people.
I'm starting with a winner: the LG Venus (Verizon). Even though I'm smitten with my BlackBerry Curve's keyboard, the Venus has a dual touch-screen design I came to like and found this phone feels a bit less chunky than the LG Voyager.
The lower of the two touch screens on the face is where you'll do your navigation. As someone who normally prefers a more tactile feel, I've become real comfortable with a quick finger press. But this touch screen has the advantage of changing modes to suit the task at hand. The upper screen where the results of your actions appear is clean and clear, although I'd have preferred a larger screen.
The Venus is a 3G EV-DO device and a capable media player, plus a 2-megapixel camera (though lacking a flash) so there is a cornucopia of usable modes you'll be accessing with that novel touch interface.
This phone is also a slider and when you do slide the touch-screen face upward, it reveals a very good T9 keypad with nice, large buttons.
Negatives are minor, but I just wish there was a raised bar between the screens to make opening and closing it smoother, such as the Motorola Z6 RIZR. Also, I would have negated the sleek, solid feel, but that's just personal preference. I could also do without the cheap plastic-leather upholstery on the back. It helps with comfort, but cheapens the look.
All in all, for about $200 with activation you could do a lot worse that the Venus if you're looking for a solid, fun, feature-packed, easy to use cell phone.