July 31, 2006 9:05 AM PDT

Verizon serves up Chocolate phone

Verizon Wireless has brought LG Mobile Phones' Chocolate handset to U.S. shores, offering a mix of video and music features that it hopes digital-media junkies will find tasty.

Not to be outdone by the likes of youth-oriented cell phone service Helio, Verizon has snatched up the latest addition to the arsenal of trendy, media-heavy cell phones. LG Mobile Phones' Chocolate is already a hit overseas, with more than 1 million sold since its international launch outside LG's home base of South Korea.

Verizon's American version has extensive music and video capabilities tied to its V Cast media store, which promises instant downloads and a catalog of more than 1.3 million songs in Windows Media Audio (WMA) format. Songs downloaded to a Chocolate phone will cost $1.99, copies of which will be automatically sent to the user's PC. If the song is downloaded to the PC from V Cast's Web site, however, the fee is only 99 cents. The song can then be loaded onto the phone at no extra cost.

Sweet 'Chocolate' phones

There's a caveat: V Cast service is compatible only with PCs running Microsoft Windows XP and Windows Media Player 10. Downloaded music, however, can be played on any portable device that can handle WMA files. Additionally, any WMA or MP3 files can be loaded onto the Chocolate regardless of origin.

V Cast also provides access to a variety of video clips, ranging from newscasts to music videos, and games like "3D Mini Golf Castles" and "Midnight Bowling." These features are available only to V Cast subscribers who fork over an additional $15 per month. Music purchases were available only to subscribers as well, but Verizon axed that requirement Monday as part of the promotion for the U.S. release of the Chocolate.

CNET Reviews
Nicole Lee on the VX8500 LG Chocolate
The LG Chocolate looks like one sweet phone.

The Chocolate's storage memory is expandable through the use of SanDisk's MicroSD memory cards. The phone itself does not come with a memory card, according to Verizon spokesperson Brenda Raney, but SanDisk cards ranging in price from $29.99 (with 256MB of memory) to $99.99 (2GB) can be purchased along with it.

In addition to the downloading perks, the Chocolate comes equipped with Verizon's VZ Navigator GPS service and a 1.3-megapixel camera that can snap photos or record up to an hour of video.

Cell phone manufacturers and service providers have been making big moves to eat into the field of portable digital media, dominated by Apple Computer's iPod. But there are still hurdles to overcome. After the tepid response to the Motorola Rokr--the product of a partnership with Apple for iTunes software--companies like Sprint have tried to improve on the model of a media-rich phone by offering the capacity for more songs, faster downloads and better compatibility with PCs.

LG and Verizon take a different marketing path, playing up the Chocolate not as a phone that plays music, but as a device that's "part MP3 player, part phone." Indeed, the handset, with its click wheel interface, bears a conspicuous resemblance to an iPod when closed; the keypad remains hidden until the phone is slid open.

The Chocolate by LG is priced at $149.99, after a $50 rebate and with a two-year contract agreement.

See more CNET content tagged:
Verizon V-Cast, Verizon Communications, LG Electronics Inc., digital media, WMA

14 comments

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Yeah, but you still won't be able to create MP3 ringtones
See: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://blog.wired.com/music/#1530757" target="_newWindow">http://blog.wired.com/music/#1530757</a>

Verizon just doesn't get it -- how is it a 'licensing issue' for them, when everyone else allows their same phones to do it?
Posted by zizzybaloobah (218 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Greed not licensing...
Verizon has contract with Moto to disable features so that VZW can charge per diem. Want pix? Want mp3 ringtones? Chaching!
I find this restriction undesirable and it drove me from VZW. Why should I buy a phone (lease, rent...) that lacks the features the manufacturer advertises? What could is not being able to assign a tune to a specific friend or call? Folks hear it and its free advertising for the artist!
History will point out that narrow-minded, constrictive corporations in the 20th and 21st centuries reversed society into extinction, rather than advance communications and quality of life!
Posted by Below Meigh (249 comments )
Link Flag
you are Wrong
you can create mp3 ringtones and upload them to your chocolate phone. it's simple. Research something before you bash it. The chocolate phone is a great combination of style and functionality. Much better than any pervious verizon phones i have researched.
Posted by joshmylz (1 comment )
Link Flag
Another crippled phone?
Great phone... but crippled by Verizon. This policy of crippling phones makes Verizon the carrier of last resort - if no other carrier gives you decent coverage, you'll have to use Verizon.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.google.com/search?q=crippled+verizon+phones" target="_newWindow">http://www.google.com/search?q=crippled+verizon+phones</a>
Posted by imagerodeo (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Verizon serves up Chocolate phone
Dear god, they may have created the most money-making, must have for chubby teens everywhere!

MP3 ringtones would be nice, though.
Posted by Tomcat Adam (272 comments )
Reply Link Flag
No Speakerphone!!!
Every other phone for sale at Verizon has speakerphone. However, this new cutting edge phone is lacking such a basic feature. What a joke. Whoever made that decision should be fired.
Posted by wwhit710 (22 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not true
While a call is in progress, if you push the camera button you'll find that it does indeed have a speakerphone function and that it works just fine.
Posted by myotis (1 comment )
Link Flag
LG is crap
The last two LG phones I have had were horrible. Couldn't get signal in a lot of places that my Nokia and now my Samsung were peaking at. I eventually got mad enough to chunk my LG flip halfway across a golf course which forced me into my Samsung. Best decesion I have made in awhile :)

On top of that, I had 3 LG burners that were DoA which pretty much killed any hopes of me buying anything LG again.
Posted by SeizeCTRL (1333 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Mine have been fine
I have absolutely NO particular preference for one cell phone over another. I've had 2 Motorolas, 2 LGs and 1 Nokia. All were flips except for the candy bar Nokia. My current cell is an LG VX4600 that I love and has always gotten great reception. The Nokia was my second favorite. You could throw it across a parking lot as hard as you could and pick it up and make a call. Number 3 was my 1st LG, a plain black flip with a b/w screen. I didn't like the Startacs (one mine, one from work) they were clumsy, had poor battery life and unremarkable performance. I'm sure there are plenty of other people who have had even worse experience than you with LG but mine's been great and I'm sure there's somebody out there who loves their LG even more. Funny isn't it. I have seen a couple of Samsung models I'd like to try though. I gave up my land line completely 4 years ago and can't think of any reason to ever go back.
Posted by Guido Muldoon (24 comments )
Link Flag
Cell-Tune-DRM?
If you buy music from Verizon &#38; download it directly to your phone, is it LOCKED to play on that phone only?
What if you upgrade in the future?
Waht if you get a different cellphone from a diferent company? Can you take your tunes with you?
Do these MP3's have a Verizon DRM so you can ONLY sync from your computer to a Verizon cellphone? JUST THIS Cellphone?

Just curious...
Posted by Llib Setag (951 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What is so remarkable?
For a higher price this phone offers nothing new over the one I currently use. The only difference is mine is a Samsung. It supports mp3 and wma files and uses TransFlash (same as MicroSD but the original name before SanDisk added it to the SDI).

The price difference is about $100 (including rebates). So unless the phone is also eddible I think I'll stick with what I've got.
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Reply Link Flag
LG phines just can't cut it
I was give a replacement LG full featured phone as a replacement to my Nokia 6102i, I kept it a week and couldn't stand it enough to fork over $150 for a new Nokia. The phone was a cheap piece of junk
Posted by yunky1 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
LG Chocolate Phone is...
The LG Chocolate is a GREAT phone. I have had for 1 month and it going GREAT. The touch Sensitive keys can get on your nerves a little bit, but you get use to them.
Posted by I Be BALLIN!!! (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Don't Buy Chocolate!!
This phone makes me long for the days of my very first cell phone. Is not durable, it is very sensitive to humidity/water damage. I have the newest version (third chocolate I have had in 4 months) and it just isn't designed well. Each time you press a key on the side or on the number pad you have to wait 5 seconds before putting it up to your face. If you don't wait your face will trigger annoying screens to pop up with an accompanying beep. Once this screen pops up you cannot press any keys, you have to repeatedly press the "back" button. As soon as my contract is up I am leaving this company. I had to go postal in the store (literally) to get a new chocolate. It turns out I needed a seminar on how to use it due to poor design. No one offered me the info. until I was picking up my third phone. Each time I went in I was met with smart alec confrontational sales people (manager and associates). I'd still have the original phone had they let me know about the design flaw and how to navigate it. KEEP yours dry!! if the sensor inside is pink it voids the warranty even if it is a design flaw.
Posted by shawnamay33 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
 

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