The Voyager by LG is the flagship phone from Verizon Wireless this holiday season. With a full QWERTY keypad, a touch screen interface, Web browser, V Cast Music and other multimedia capabilities, and the VZ Navigator application, it is Verizon's answer to the Apple iPhone. In other words, the Voyager does just about everything you would expect a mobile device to do. And, perhaps, that is its ultimate downfall.
The full list of features you'll get with the Voyager from Verizon is surely impressive. Besides what has already been mentioned you can include, Bluetooth, GPS, built-in stereo speakers, a 2.0 megapixel camera, and a microSD memory slot for up to 8GB. You won't find a more feature rich mobile communication device anywhere.
But that is where we start to see some problems. While the list of features is very impressive, not all of them are implemented in the best way. The touch screen for example is frustratingly slow to respond to your touch in some applications. Scrolling down a Web page with the Voyager is best done with the keyboard, making the touch screen a nice novelty that doesn't really help.
While we are talking about it, I would also mention that the Web browsing is very limited. This is not the Safari browser Apple has been using that is for sure. If you expect much more than text and hyperlinks when you surf the Web, you are going to be disappointed by the Voyager experience.
And because you find yourself using the keyboard more than the touch screen for navigation, the phone feels more conventional and ordinary than the Apple iPhone, which is not good news when it comes to gaining market share. Verizon will not be able to generate much buzz about the Voyager, at least not enough to compete with the media darling iPhone.
The one major advantage of the Voyager over the Apple product though is the keyboard. This is probably the feature that will sell the most Voyager devices for Verizon. If you text message constantly (I don't, for the sake of full disclosure), you will love the large tactile QWERTY keyboard. The Voyager is just the right size for dual-thumb typing messages to friends and family.
One final caveat; because the Voyager uses a proprietary operating system designed by LG, it is missing some of the common connectivity features businesspeople are used to seeing in their mobile devices. This is not a Blackberry and getting e-mail from the corporate server to your Voyager is either cumbersome or impossible. This one fact alone makes the Voyager unacceptable to a large segment of the market.
The LG Voyager, sold exclusively by Verizon, is a serious mobile communication device. But in many ways it is a device looking for a market. While it has almost every feature you could possibly want, it doesn't necessarily implement them all in the best way possible. I think the Voyager is trying to do too much and the result is a technically advanced device without a market.
There are better choices if your main activity is text messaging. There are better choices if you main activity is listening and watching multimedia. There are better choices if you are a road-warrior who has to keep up with a flood of e-mail. And if you are into style and being cool, there is a phone with more of that too.
As a mobile communication device, there is nothing seriously wrong with the Voyager, but there is nothing seriously right about it either. If one were to drop in my lap, I could make do. But if I am spending my own money, I am going to find a phone that is more focused on providing the specific features and services I seek.
If you have the Voyager and love it, please let us know. I would welcome a counterpoint from someone with more experience using the product. Anyone?
Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.