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Choc a block

The stylish multimedia handset has a bunch of nifty features that work rather well. Not everyone however, will take to it, due to one roadblock.

tech reviews Updated: Apr 20, 2010 13:44 IST
Shayne Rana

LG’s Chocolate range of super slick mobile handsets have been around and have a rich and sophisticated feel with their glossy black finish, red trims and the glowing red touch sensitive navigation system. As far as looks go, the BL20 employs all the traditional trimmings of the Chocolate series.

Form
Like most of the other Chocolate series handsets, the BL20 is a slider. It has a smooth black glossy coat, a touch sensitive navigation and shortcut system. The rich red keypad has large keys and is comfortable to use. The slider too is smooth. The 2.4-inch display is easy on the eyes even in bright sunlight. Feather touch buttons have been used for volume/zoom and camera keys located on the side.

Instead of including a 3.5mm socket on the handset to kept it as slim as possible, LG has gone with a universal micro USB slot for PC, handsfree and charger connectivity. The handsfree has a 3.5mm adapter so you can use your own earphones if you like, though the bundled set is very capable and comfortable to use.

A 5MP camera with an LED flash is at the rear and a secondary VGA camera is placed in front. The MicroSD hot swap slot is under the rear panel.The BL20 makes it very difficult to dislike its design.

Interface
The non-touchscreen version of LG’s proprietary S-Class UI is definitely easier to deal with than the one on their touchscreen handsets. This one is smooth and fluid with no lag even if you’re multitasking. I had five apps running in the background and the moving from one to the other was as smooth as ever.

The layout is similar to the touchscreen version without the accelerometer to rotate the menus. You won’t miss it. The hidden touch navigation panel provides haptic feedback if the setting is active but it can be a bit over sensitive and there’s no controlling that. A widget and running apps key is placed at the bottom of the navigation panel and if you don’t have slim fingers, you’re going to end up activating these.

Media
The music player is brilliant. Tone quality is spot on with an equal distribution of highs lows and quite a thump in the bass line. It’s also extremely loud so I do not advice using it at peak volume. A set of EQ presets that include 3D surround sound is also available to enhance the experience. Regular 3GP and MPEG4 files play without a hitch but without an accelerometer you’ll have to manually switch to landscape viewing.

The FM radio took a while to locate the available stations, most of which I had to manually set. LG has included quite a few Gameloft supplied games. They seem to have gone the Samsung way as most of the games are just demos, and to play them, you’ll need to purchase the full version.

Connectivity
The BL20 is a 3G ready handset. There’s EDGE/GPRS, and support for POP and IMP email accounts (you may have to enter some of the details manually). The web browser is quite capable of handling most of your web surfing requirements. For social networking, there is none in the BL20, so you’ll have to use the mobile websites to keep in touch with your online lifestyle.

Another option would be to download Java based apps like Nimbuzz or eBuddy. Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP and USB 2.0 are other connectivity options. The widgets section has a weather updater and Google has included Google Maps and a quick link to Google Search.

Features
The basic ones like the calculator, memo, task, calendar, converter, voice recorder etc are there. Additional features include LG’s data wallet to secure important information under a password protected system. You can password protect other features like messages, email, contacts etc. as well, and there is an Anti-Theft feature too.

Camera
The 5MP autofocus camera comes with Schneider-Kreuznach optics and an LED flash. It features settings like night mode, white balance, ISO settings up to 400, a self timer and burst mode. When there’s enough light, image quality in outdoor environments look pretty good. With artificial lighting indoor photos tend to look grainy.

Battery
The BL20 comes with a 900mAh battery that can, on an average, provide just about three hours of talk time. You should get about two days of nominal usage if you don’t use the camera or the video player too often in that period as that tends to really suck the life out of the battery.

What we like
* Well designed, good looking handset
* Fluid UI
* Excellent audio player
* Camera quality is quite decent

What we don’t
* No social networking apps built-in
* FM reception was not too good