A very welcome if imperfect improvement on the original enV. (August 10th, 2008)
Product Manufacturer: LG
Price: $50 (Telus 3 yrs.) $80 (Verizon 2 yrs.)
- Much more efficient, comfortable design than the earlier model.
- Good battery life for a CDMA phone, especially on standby.
- Simple, no-nonsense interface.
- 3.5mm headphone jack on the in-line mic.
- Telus version gets a 1GB microSD card in the box.
- Voice quality is just average for a CDMA phone.
- Little software; media player and web browser are very simple.
- Bluetooth and USB transfer problems with at least the test model.
- Connectors on the phone itself are still proprietary.
LG's first attempt at a hybrid phone with the original enV was, for the most part, successful in hooking phone users who spend most of their time sending text, but for actual calling was often too big and difficult to control. The enV2 (known as the Keybo in Canada) aims to solve many of the outstanding problems of the original device in one fell swoop. LG manages to accomplish many of its goals, but whether these changes are enough to sway those who were sitting on the fence the first time around is another matter.
design and expansion
The original enV was criticized for its sheer size, and not without reason: in trying to be both a good phone and a good messaging client, it was too bulky for those who regularly handled both. The enV2/Keybo handily solves this. LG's newer phone is still relatively thick, but it's decidedly thinner than keyboard-free devices like the Nokia N95 8GB and still has roughly the same overall surface area as a conventional phone. The size is only now a concern for especially tight pockets.
Moreover, LG is also making much better use of the space it has, even with the smaller shape. The number pad on the outside is extremely large and very comfortable to use in practice. The smaller external LCD is less of a problem than one would think; while it does hurt the ability to properly frame a camera shot, it's more than enough for the calling, messaging, and basic music controls that are most likely to be used while the phone is fully closed. The camera and volume buttons are also very large and easy to hit, but not so much so that they'll be pressed by accident.
On the inside, LG has had to shrink the QWERTY keyboard from the original enV. The difference is noticeable, but the keys are still more than large enough to permit quick typing. It was possible to type at full speed within minutes of opening the box, and the controls are intuitive enough that one is never really at a loss as to what to press.
Connecting devices to the phone is straightforward, albeit not as universal as we'd like. The built-in audio jack is a 2.5mm port common among phones but unusable for regular earphones; thankfully, the in-line microphone has a 3.5mm jack that works with whatever you already have. The phone also connects to PCs through a USB connection, but on its own end uses a proprietary micro USB port -- a likely problem should the bundled cable ever be lost. Also, while the phone technically supports mass storage over USB, it doesn't appear as an accessible device outside of Windows. That's a problem for Mac users and others who would like to sideload music or upload photos, and it feels a somewhat arbitrary choice.