All I had to do while watching the news was hit a button on the side of Instinct, say fast food and voila, another screen opened on the device listing about a dozen fast food locations and the directions to get there. Since this area of New England does not contain lots of fast food locations, the Instinct’s directions still gave me choices of restaurants in a 15 mile area. (Back home, near NYC, it gave me 50 choices in a five block area and even had a description of the menu.)
My Verizon-based LG Voyager also carries a GPS, but it was strictly for directions and didn’t have voice activated points of interest.
While some industry wags have unfavorably compared the Instinct’s touch screen to the iPhone, I thought it was actually a bit more responsive than the iPhone, especially with my hockey ravaged fingers. I also liked some the Instinct’s other non TV features. The Instinct screen uses a sliding icon to answer a mobile call while watching TV or using the web…maybe the easiest touch screen feature I’ve seen.
While the movement back and forth from the home screen to the feature screen to the phone screen was not “Instinctive,” it was fast so you wound up at the feature you wanted. This same non-instinctive feature also made text messaging a bit troublesome in that you had to find the new message button which is not clearly marked….nor easily identified on the main screen. The Instinct also uses one of the best mini browsers in mobile phonedom. The built-in camera was quick and decent and the music player was also de rigueur.
The Voyager also has some nice TV-on-phone features. Once you get past the still horrible Verizon VCast interface, the quality of its high resolution screen is pretty decent for sports highlights, movie trailers and its live TV (fewer channels than Sprint) is still very clear and sharp using real 32 frames-per-second speed…very easy to see with these old eyes.
Other non TV features for the Voyager are: large capacity storage (up to 8 gigabytes of micro-SD) for your photos, digital music, digital video and data. The trusty, relatively easy but laborious slow Verizon main menu does get you where you want to go….but the “Tools menu” is still confusing, especially if you are new to feature laden mobile phones.
Obviously, these devices are arguably as good as or better than the iPhone for viewing digital photos, downloadable or home videos and playing or purchasing and playing your favorite digital music. Both the Samsung Instinct and the LG Voyager do eat up battery life when you watch long videos or live TV for more than 45 minutes. But the Instinct comes with an extra battery.
But of course, if you are stuck in traffic on a bus or a stalled train, you should be reading a book or magazine, lest you get some eye strain.
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Richard Sherwin is a former syndicated technology columnist and TV/Radio analyst, who has also been a marketing executive with IBM, Philips, NBC and a chief advisor to several manufacturers and service providers.