Remember that series of odd but unforgettable Guinness commericals that featured two paper cutout Irish brewmasters who kept yelling “Brilliant!” all the time? They might love the LG Decoy even more than the beer. Why? Because LG has just made it much easier for heavy talkers to go hands free by integrating a Bluetooth headset right into a phone. You don’t have to worry about schlepping around a separate charger or go through a confusing pairing process. I actually saw this concept a couple of years ago during a Plantronics press event, and I’ve always wondered why no one ever brought it to market. So when the LG Decoy showed up this morning (which supports all the usual Verizon services like V CAST Music and Video, as well as VZ Navigator), I was excited to see how well it worked. Here’s my quick take. What we like:
- The small blue headset is very discrete and produces only a minor bulge on the back of the phone. Ejecting the headset is a cinch using a small button on the top of the handset.
- An animated wizard walks you through the pairing process, which consists of detaching the headset and then holding down the call answer/end button on the headset until the blue light stays on. That’s it. The Decoy takes care of the rest.
- Headset charges while docked and automatically powers down to save juice.
- Mono headset plays downloaded music (50 seconds to download “Lost!” track from Coldplay’s new Viva la Vida) and audio from V CAST Video (five seconds to download Family Guy clip).
- Phone has stylish two-tone finish with large mirror-like 2.2-inch display. Nice soft-touch dialpad.
- Good voice quality on headset indoors and in quiet environments.
- Can activate voice command menu with single tap of headset button (or button above dialpad).
- Five-way joystick works well despite being slightly recessed.
- Loud speakerphone.
What we don’t like:
- Other callers said they could tell we were using a Bluetooth headset, and that we sounded like we were in a tunnel. Worse, when walking outside with only a slight breeze one caller said they could barely hear us.
- No noise reduction technology means other callers will hear what’s in the background.
- Volume rocker button on headset is really narrow.
- Just 2 hours of talk time on headset.
- At 4.1 ounces this phone/headset combo is a bit on the heavy side.
- Phone’s LCD picks up smudges quickly.
Verdict: The LG Decoy is a great concept and is pretty well executed. This slider is especially convenient for those who forget to charge their wireless headsets or find themselves scrambling to find theirs in a pocket or purse when the phone rings. However, $179 (after a $50 mail-in rebate) is a lot to pay for this two-in-one functionality when you can get a decent standalone Bluetooth headset for less than 50 bucks, and the lack of noise or wind reduction diminishes the Decoy’s appeal. We’d wait for the price to come down a bit before taking the plunge.