When you look at the LG eXpo, the first thought that comes to mind may be “c’mon, it’s just another Windows Mobile phone.” Yes, the device runs Windows Mobile (6.5, to be exact), but there are some welcome improvements to this device that make it a better unit than past Windows Mobile devices. The projector is quite the neat accessory (though it costs $179 in addition to the device), the 1 GHz Snapdragon processor makes the device snappy at almost everything you throw at it, the fingerprint navigation works well, and the roomy QWERTY keyboard is a good solution for those that e-mail frequently.

The LG eXpo sports a professional silver color motif, with a metal back plate. The left side of the device contains the volume rocker, while the microSD card slot, multitasking key, and the camera button can be found on the right side of the device. The top of the unit offers a microUSB charging port (which doubles as a headphone jack) and power button, and the front of the device sports the send, end, and back key. A fingerprint navigation sensor can be found on the front as well. I was frustrated that the unit didn’t offer a 3.5mm headphone jack, but AT&T does provide an adapter in the box. Additionally, I found the fingerprint navigation system challenging to use at times; due to the small size of the sensor, it was frustrating when scrolling more than a few lines.

 Though not quite as small as some of the other boxes on the market, the box is still relatively small. Inside, you’ll find the device, battery, an AC adapter, USB cable (which doubles as part of the charger), hands-free headset, headset adapter, stylus, and an instruction manual. Coming in at 4.45 inches long by 2.16 inches wide by 0.63 inch thick, the device weighs 4.2 ounces, making it a bit heavier than the average device, but nothing major. The eXpo offers a 3.2-inch resistive touchscreen display with 262,000 colors and 480 x 800 pixels. The eXpo offers a sliding QWERTY keyboard, and it is incredibly easy to use when it comes to typing. Not only are the keys spacious, but they’re slightly raised and separated, making it easier to text message or e-mail while on the go. Contrary to how the advertisement portrays it, the projector add-on is not included in the box – it is an additional $179.

Usability & Performance

 The LG eXpo ships with Windows Mobile 6.5 and LG’s S-Class user interface. Microsoft Office Mobile Suite, Microsoft’s new My Phone backup service, and improved internet browsing through Internet Explorer are a few of the improvements seen in the new OS. Granted, I like the revised design of 6.5 (though I think more needs to be done), but I’ve been very pleased with the tweaks found in LG’s S-Class UI. If you like it, you can make it the default user interface in the eXpo’s settings. With Windows Mobile 6.5 comes Windows Marketplace – a welcome addition, and something that finally places Microsoft in the race. The LG eXpo offers 3G connectivity, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1, and GPS. Additional phone features include quad-band world roaming, conference calling, and voice dialing.

Similar to other Windows Mobile devices, the eXpo offers Microsoft’s Direct Push Technology for real-time e-mail, along with the ability to configure POP3 and IMAP accounts. The device offers instant messaging support for AOL Instant Messenger, Windows Live, and Yahoo. As a frequent e-mail user, a good keyboard is crucial, in my opinion – and the LG eXpo’s QWERTY is a winner. I’ll admit, the on-screen option is a bit cramped, but the physical alternative is comfortable and reminds me of a smaller HTC Touch Pro2.

 The LG eXpo offers a 5.0-megapixel camera with a 3x digital zoom, and in our testing, image quality was decent, given the proper amount of light. Additional camera features include a flash and video-recording capabilities. You also have the ability to change the image size, scene modes, white balance, and effects. All in all, a pretty reasonable media set for a mid-range smartphone.

 I tested the eXpo in the Charlotte area, and call quality was good. Callers had no problem hearing me, and call quality was clear on my end as well. I had minor fluctuation between 3G and EGDE, but nothing out of the ordinary. When I went to a known AT&T dead spot, calls sounded relatively clear, though callers told me my voice cut out every now and again. I successfully paired my Plantronics Voyager Pro Bluetooth headset to the device, and Bluetooth functions performed admirably. In addition, the eXpo has a strong speakerphone; I tested the device in a busy coffee shop, and could hear my callers well. Though there was a bit of reported background noise, everyone said that they could understand our conversation.

 Battery life is estimated at 4 hours of talk time, and just over 17 days of standby time. In my testing, battery life was good. With moderate use encompassing text messaging, calling, e-mail, and the occasional web surfing, I was able to make it about a day and a half before the phone powered off. With little to no use, the device lasted just over four days. As with any device, battery numbers will vary with the level of usage that they’re subjected to between charging cycles, but the eXpo should please the business travelers users out there. Just be sure to carry an extra battery or a car charger for the long work days.

The eXpo is a 3G device, meaning that browsing speeds were quite fast. The mobile CNN webpage loaded in about 12 seconds, and the full PhoneDog homepage loaded in 36 seconds. Other data-intensive tasks such as AT&T Navigator, Internet Explorer, and the Windows Marketplace performed well throughout the testing. As I stated earlier, the eXpo is equipped with a 1 GHz Snapdragon processor, making the device peppy in every task that I threw at it.

Conclusion

Is it my favorite Windows Mobile device? No. The HTC Touch Pro2 (or Tilt2 to AT&T customers) still holds that spot due to the larger screen and giant QWERTY keyboard. That being said, the LG eXpo is a a great smartphone option for the business individual that needs to present on the go (though the projector is a separate accessory). Despite some challenges in the responsiveness of the display, It offers strong performance, a good display, and a nice keyboard. Be sure to check it out in store prior to purchase.

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