When I first saw the LG KG800 Chocolate cell phone that launched in Korea in November 2005, I thought it was so sleek that it almost made me switch from being a long time loyal Nokia devotee and it first caught my attention, not only because I love chocolate (it’s called chocolate because the version in Korea also had a chocolate scent! Yum!), but also because it’s the first time that a phone had a heat sensitive touchpad that glowed red only at the touch of your finger. Since it has touchpad navigation, you won’t feel any of the buttons that are beneath the shiny and smooth surface, and the screen also looks camouflaged behind the surface (in the black model) when not in use. The only thing really visible on the face was a small silver rectangle surrounding a central OK button. In addition to the OK button were 8 navigation buttons outside of the rectangle, and all of these touchpad buttons were hidden behind the shiny glossy surface and were only revealed with a red glow when touched. The silver rectangle aids your thumb in opening this slider phone to reveal a unique checkerboard-like keypad underneath. With all of these sleek design features, the LG Chocolate won the 2006 IF Design Award in Germany for its innovative design.
Ok, enough about the design…what about the other tech features? Well, it’s nothing spectacular to boast about because it only has the standard specs that’s common in most phones these days, such as:
• 1.3MP camera with LED flash
• 128MB internal memory
• MP3 Player
The Chocolate falls under LG’s line of fashion phones, so it’s not expected to stand out in functionality, but only in its sleek design. Yet, was it worth the hefty $500 price tag when it arrived here in Toronto during the Summer 2006 as a parallel import through unofficial distributors at the Asian stores? I didn’t think so, and stuck by my Nokia.
When a model becomes very popular, we usually see other colours and variations of that model released shortly after. The LG Chocolate was no exception (over 300,000 units were sold within the first 3 months after launch in Korea), and so the White and Pink Chocolate versions geared towards the gadget girls were soon released. LG also followed with an upgraded Chocolate that was thinner and more feature-rich with its Gold and Silver KE800 Platinum models that boasts: 256 MB internal memory, plus SD slot for external memory expansion; 2MP camera with auto-focus and FM radio, Bluetooth and all other features of the original, yet only 9.9mm thick (35% thinner than the15mm thick original)
The original LG Chocolate and all of the subsequent variations described above are unfortunately only sold here in Toronto as expensive parallel imports, except for the Platinum line, which hasn’t arrived here yet. But LG recently came out with a modified version of the original Chocolate that is officially sold in US through Verizon as LG VX8500, and now in Canada through Telus as LG8500, which is shown everywhere in flyers and commercials now, yet with a redesigned front face that loses much of the sleek and minimalist look found in the original version. Instead of a small silver rectangle, the North American version has a large silver circle, which surrounds 5 buttons, in addition to 4 buttons outside the ring. Although the North American version has the same number of buttons as the original KG800, the ones inside the circle are clearly visible, making it look less sleek and more cluttered. It also doesn’t appear to have the unique checkboard-style keypad. However, it’s definitely a lot more affordable at $130 (when you commit to a 3 year Telus plan in Toronto) or $330 without a plan compared to the KG800 that’s still only available as a parallel import for around $400-$430 now at the unofficial” LG distributors in the Toronto Asian stores here. The North American version only comes in the dark chocolate colour for now, but maybe LG will soon launch the other colours if North Americans end up gobbling up the ‘Chocolate’ like they do with the edible one!