Review by Michael Oryl on Tuesday May 18, 2004.
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LG VX4500 for VerizonWith the release of its VX4500 for Verizon's CDMA network, LG seems to be showing a new focus on real world usage. They've made a mobile phone that focuses on what the average person needs, not what the small minority of technophiles like me typically want. The basics are covered in the VX4500, and then we see some new things that still seem to focus on the real world. Functions that can help the typical person do something that most of us do every day. Things like driving.
Talk to me
This isn't to say that there is nothing to please the high-tech gadget lover. On the contrary, the new feature that helps with driving so much also happens to be pretty darn high-tech for a mobile phone. You see, the thing that sets the VX4500 apart from most every other handset on the market is the voice command system. That, in and of itself, doesn't sound impressive. After all, many, if not most, phones have the ability to do voice dialing and voice commands. The trick here is that the VX4500 can do it without any training. Its system is speaker independent.
That's right, just about anybody can pick up the VX4500 and start telling it what to do. When the phone is in "Driving Mode", opening the phone will cause the VX4500 to tell you "Please say a command" in a woman's voice though the large and high quality hands-free speaker. At that point, your options are: Contacts, Digit Dial, Redial, Voice Mail, Driving, Schedule, Time. I find this to be fantastic. The ability to push a button, say "contacts", and then search for the contact by saying the person's name - without prior training - is awesome. The system reads back the name of the person it thinks you are looking for to ask for a confirmation, if you say "yes", then the phone call is placed. Digit dial is also a great system. You just tell it the numbers to dial, confirm that it heard you correctly, and the VX4500 places the call.
The "schedule" voice command is interesting. The idea is that you can get an overview of your appointments for the day without having to take your eyes off of the road. If there are no appointments in the calendar, then the VX4500 says as much. If there are appointments, however, it will tell you the current date and then list out the times that you have appointments, in addition to giving some small amount of additional detail. One thing it doesn't do, though, is read the name of the appointment. I find this odd considering that it does so well with reading the names of contacts. Knowing that I have an appointment in 15 minutes is not all that useful if I don't know where the appointment is and who I am meeting. The other problem here is that there appears to be no way to sync the VX4500 with your desktop PC. No accessory cables are offered, and there is no IR port. Verizon Wireless does offer a "mobile office" kit, but makes no mention of the ability to sync with Outlook or Notes.
If you do find that the system has trouble understanding you, because of a strong accent of something, you do have the option of training it so that it better understands you. The training takes but a couple of minutes to run through. I did not find it necessary, though. Overall, the voice command system is very cool, and hopefully a sign of things to come in the future.
You can hear the system in action, if you like. The file is a 64Kbps Mono MP3. You might have to turn your volume up a bit to hear it well.