Pros: Sliding form factor, sleek looks
Cons: Reception, quirky interface
In late 2006 I received the original Chocolate (VX-8500) as a review unit. I thought it was well put-together and enjoyed the phone, but looked forward to trying out the next generation.
I purchased the 8550 for a family share line but was able to play with it for a little while. Battery life on the standard battery is improved, and the screen looks a bit nicer. The edges of the unit have been rounded, and LG added a number of blinking lights around the control wheel which appealed to the family member using it.
Though it looks nicer, I found that clicking around with the wheel took a little while to get used to without introducing flase clicks. I was soon frustrated with failing to get into deep-in menu items because I moved the wheel a little in the "click" attempt and hit the wrong thing. With practice I got more accurate.
The power/data port uses the same plug as the original Chocolate (and the enV and Voyager) so some transfer of cables is possible if you are moving up. Luckily with the LG Dare the move has been made to micro USB and hopefully that will be a standard feature on LG phones for the foreseeable future.
Reception was close to but not quite as good as the original Chocolate. My house doesn't get great Verizon reception, and there were fewer dropped calls with the original Chocolate.
Despite the flaws I have described here, the family member using the 8550 refuses to go back to the 8500, so how can I fault the unit? The form factor and trimmings are very popular, and slider phones have come a LONG way since the Kyocera Slider was introduced a number of years ago.