The much awaited LG BL40 made its way to our labs and onto my table. As usual LG has strayed a bit from the conventional and gone with a slightly off beat design that would appeal to a slightly different audience. The BL40 is a designer mobile that’s more of a fashion statement rather than a mobile handset for daily use. Sadly it’s infused with their S-Class UI I have grown to dislike. But if you’re interested in fashion rather than function allow me to offer you my experience with the BL40 Chocolate.

Form Factor
I’ve never had an issue with the design concepts that have made their way off of LG’s mobile handset assembly line conveyor belt. In fact, I’m quite the fan. The BL40 is quite an exquisite design. While still retaining a very conventional candy bar form factor to the hilt, it still manages to be very impressive with its extra long presence, elegant, slim very sleek styling. Although it offers a 4.1-inch scratch resistant touchscreen (that supports multi-touch) which is smaller than that of the HTC HD2, it’s the longest handset I’ve come across so far at a length of 128mm and just 10.9mm in depth. It’s designed to offer users an ultra widescreen 21:9 format for viewing video files.

The volume/zoom keys are stylishly embedded into the side along the chrome and the same goes for the quick access Music player key located on the other side. The micro USB connected is located on this same side and is also well concealed beneath a flap. An LED indicator beside it signifies it’s being charged. The BL40 also offers a 3.5mm standard earphones/handsfree port that’s located on the top of the handset. The 5MP AF camera with its single LED flash is at the rear and with 1GB of internal space and support for more up to 32GB via a microSD card slot located under the rear panel you’ll have plenty of space for multimedia.

Features and Performance
With a lengthy display like this the S-Class UI made a few of the functions that I thought difficult in other handsets even more of an issue with this one. When trying to send an SMS the send option is way at the top of the display unless you’re using it in landscape mode. The keypads are quite well designed and spacious. I found the UI to be horribly sluggish and the more my 4GB memory card was loaded the slower it became. It took about 4-5 seconds to access my contacts every single time and over 15 seconds to open up the gallery if I had movies on board the card.

The response time to features like multi-touch zooming was slow and more so when it came to typing. The main menu still switches to landscape but not the sub menus, not fast enough to make it convenient. All this even though I didn’t use the phone’s internal memory was quite disappointing.

The handset’s media functionality is just brilliant. From the FM radio with an FM transmitter that took a little while to scan and save all the channels but managed to provide pretty decent reception in most places to the Dolby Mobile enhanced music player and DivX/XviD video player. Audio quality via the bundled handsfree or my own test earphones was comfortable and clear. The tone quality is really good and the Dolby Mobile sound engine makes a very big difference. The same goes for the multiple EQ presets that are also on board. Since you can copy paste videos onto the drive for a no-conversion-necessary playback, widescreen videos look excellent. The Dolby engine is applicable even with the video player. It also offers TV out via the 3.5mm earphone socket.

As usual LG has included a slew of immensely entertaining games that include racing titles that are accelerometer controlled and plenty of other motion based selections including a music instrument styled game. LG’s Movie Maker app is also available for quick editing of short clips and creating slideshows with background music and various styles. You can also edit videos directly form the playback menu and LG has included quite a lot of fun options to play around that goes double for the image editor that has plenty of features to enhance your photos.

The connectivity features of the BL40 include 3G support, EDGE/GPRS, Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP and GPS with A-GPS that can be used with Google Maps. I had bit of a problem with the handset’s Wi-Fi though. Although it connected to my home and office network immediately after switching it on, it seemed to take forever to open and sites using the service. I used Wi-Fi on the BL40 and EDGE in an N97 Mini and tried accessing YouTube via the preloaded app, the N97 opened and began playing the video I searched for and selected before the BL40’s version even opened the search results page. This happened consistently even with normal sites like Google. This could be just a glitch with this test handset though. The browser is still a feature that could use some work in the rendering of pages.

Google has included their services that include access to Google Mail and eBlogger as well. You can of course set up your IMAP and POP email accounts. What’s new in the connectivity department is the inclusion of a social networking app that allows you to connect to popular sites like Twitter, Facebook and MySpace making it very easy to stay in touch with your online lifestyle.

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