Out-of-office experience

LG Dare has useful features for working on the road, but might not be right for the office

IT'S GETTING HARDER to choose the
best cell phone for the office because it
seems all of them are built for consumers
rather than professionals. Even Research
in Motion's BlackBerrys have features
banned by most government agencies
and large enterprises, such as high-resolution
cameras and media players. As a
result, agencies are wasting time and
money disabling those features and
adding protocols to safeguard their
networks.



LG Electronics' LG Dare is another example
of a great phone with many useful
features that would require a lot of work
to be permissible in a medium- to highsecurity
environment. At a glance, it
seems as though everything about the
phone is perfect for the professional. Its
small dimensions ' 4.1 inches by 2.2
inches by 0.05 inches ' and weight '
just under 4 ounces ' are perfect for
users on the go.

I traveled on an airplane, bus, train and
boat with this phone on a recent business
trip to Georgia, and I hardly noticed it
was there until I got a call. The battery
provides a lot of juice for such a small
phone, so when you get a call while the
phone is in vibrate mode, you and everyone
within a 1.5-meter radius will know it.
I got an impressive usage time of almost
280 minutes and a standby time of 360
hours, or 15 days. Another feature that
would be useful on a business trip is the
LG Dare's ability to store the passkeys for
as many as 20 Bluetooth pairings.

I have a BlackBerry and another mobile
work phone, so when I am reviewing a
cell phone, I carry three devices wherever
I go. I have two Bluetooth headpieces,
so I appreciated
being able to store specifications
for both of
them in the LG Dare.

Likewise, I often use my
cell phone as a voice
recorder for conducting
interviews or taking
mental notes. The LG
Dare's ability to connect
to an additional Bluetooth
headphone that
transmits data in stereo
sound is ideal when
playing back voice messages
or interviews.

Although the LG Dare
has a touch interface
similar to Apple's
iPhone, there is a slight
learning curve in accessing
the features. Although
I was able to pick
up the interface rather
easily in about a halfhour,
some people I gave
the phone to struggled
for as long as two hours
before they understood
how to access important
features and settings,
such as clearing your call
logs and changing your
ring tone.

We weren't pleased
with the handwriting interface, either.
The phone is almost too small to use the
handwriting feature, which is also too sensitive to use efficiently.
The size of the
unit and its 640 x 480
pixel screen, which is
almost 3 inches in diameter,
is ideal for a
stylus, and it should
have been designed
with that feature in
mind.

The only other problem with the
LG Dare ' and perhaps the
most damaging ' isn't
a feature it has but
something it lacks.
Although it comes
with mobile e-mail capabilities
' meaning it
can access online accounts
such as Hotmail, AOL and
Yahoo Mail ' it lacks the outof-
the-box ability to access e-mail
from a Microsoft Exchange server.

Therefore, it can't reach my Outlook
work account or synch with my office
computer as effortlessly as a BlackBerry
or Palm device can.

However, an application
from Remoba called RemoSync
allows customers
to access their Outlook accounts
via their phones to
manage their e-mail messages,
calendar and contacts.
The service costs
about $10 a month per
unit for full access.
And although the advanced
3.2-megapixel
camera is impressive, I
would have to disable it if I
were to use the LG Dare as
a work phone. With the
ability to take photographs
in a resolution as high as
2,048 x 1,536 pixels, the
LG Dare could easily take
sharp photos of confidential data ' and
the LG Dare can also record video. Additionally,
its SmartPic feature greatly improves
image quality, and it automatically
detects a face when taking a picture
and adjusts the
settings accordingly.

The LG Dare's software
has become so advanced
that you can take panorama
shots and split shots; edit
photos by zooming in, rotating
the image, cropping, and
adding frames and icons;
and write over images.

The LG Dare has an
HTML browser and speedy
Evolution-Data Optimized
connectivity. It doesn't have
much built-in memory for
storage, but the mini-
Secure Digital card slot
gives you as much as 8G of
storage on a single card.

The Global Positioning
System feature uses Verizon
Wireless' VZ Navigator
to provide visual and audio
directions to thousands of
destinations. I used this feature in Atlanta
to find the nearest post office and
gas station. VZ Navigator can also help
you find maps of specific locations and
share directions with others. It doesn't
beat a dedicated GPS
or geographical information
system, but for
simple jobs, it works
well. However, I found
that it lacked information
on smaller towns
such as Charlotte,
N.C., and Brunswick,
Ga.

One last important note about the LG
Dare is its use of a USB port to connect to
computers and power the handset. One of
the most important rules in process efficiency
is to standardize. LG Electronics
and Research in Motion
have set themselves
apart from their competitors
' mainly
Palm and Samsung '
by sticking to the USB
port as the only way of connecting
to their phones. That philosophy
has allowed me to use the devices'
power cords and cables
interchangeably.

By contrast, if I were to take a Samsung
or Palm device with me on a trip, I would
need to carry several cables to perform
the same task on each phone. For the LG
Dare and BlackBerry, I only have to remember
one cable. However, having just
bought a Samsung T639, I now have to
throw away my old Samsung phone's
charger and cables because they are useless
with the company's new port design.

Even worse, I can't buy a car charger for
the new Samsung T639 because one hasn't
been released to fit the new design.
With the LG Dare, I don't have to buy another
car charger because it's all USB, so
I can use the one I bought two years ago
for my BlackBerry.

The LG Dare is an innovative and feature-
rich mobile phone. It has several
surprises that set it apart from other
touch-screen phones, such as VZ Navigator.
However, the interface could be easier
to navigate, and I would prefer that it
come with Outlook capabilities.

LG Electronics, 858-635-5300,
www.lge.com
.

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