Friday, November 09, 2007

LG Voyager: the Journalist's Best Friend?

The LG Voyager smart phone will be released shortly by Verizon Wireless. Very few reviews have been published, and I haven't seen the phone in the flesh, but there's every indication that the Voyager may be the best new piece of technology to come along for journalists since the word processor.

Widely derided as an iPhone wannabe, the Voyager, on paper at least, appears to have a number of advantages over the Apple product. Before I start this let me first concede that I have no doubt that the iPhone and its software have a beauty and an elegance that LG will not be able to match.

Thanks to IntoMobile, the Voyager's specs (warning: PDF link) are available, as is its quick-start guide.

  • If these documents can be believed, the LG Voyager will be to journalists what the the tricorder was to the crew of the Starship Enterprise.
  • Slightly taller and thicker than the iPhone, the Voyager is not quite as wide and 0.1 ounces lighter.
  • It connects to the Internet over a speedy EVDO link, much faster than the iPhone. Except when I have to write while I'm at a meeting, I'll probably be able to leave my laptop at home. The entire Internet will be available anywhere there's a cell signal, and I'll never have to hunt for a WiFi connection again.
  • The Voyager has a GPS unit included and Verizon's highly touted VZ Navigator software preinstalled. The iPhone does not include GPS functionality. I won't have to buy a separate GPS unit or lug it to strange cities when I travel. Not only will I be able to get from point A to point B, I'll be able to find a gas station near the rental car return at an airport, and in an instant I'll have the name, location, and phone number of every restaurant in any neighborhood in the US.
  • Like the iPhone, the Voyager has a large touchpad on the front. Unlike the iPhone, the Voyager opens up to reveal a second screen and a full QWERTY keyboard.
  • The Voyager includes a voice recorder that can apparently record for up to an hour depending on the available memory. (It uses a Mini SD card.) For some reason, however, you can only record for five minutes when you're on a phone call. It would be very useful for reporters, and for others, to be able to record cell phone calls in their entirety, and I'm not sure why Verizon has limited this function. Perhaps there's an enterprising software maven reading this who can find a way to bypass these limits. If the regular and phone recording can be extended beyond one hour, I might be able to leave my voice recorder at home.
  • The Voyager has a 2.0 megapixel autofocus camera and camcorder. It's hard to tell without playing with it whether this camera would be adequate for taking pictures of PowerPoint presentations or posters. But if it can, I'll also be able to leave my camera at home.

What's also nice is that Verizon wireless appears to have lowered its prices for Web access. According to SlashGear.com, plans allowing unlimited Internet use, unlimited navigation, and unlimited text messaging will now cost just $40 per month on top of a phone contract.

I'm going to wait to read reviews from people of actually tested the LG Voyager before I take the step of buying it (prices are expected to be about $299 with a two-year contract). But these specs are making me salivate pretty heavily.

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