Track Tech: Verizon Wireless' LG G3

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Having lunch with friends is a luxury I am not often afforded. When I do have the opportunity to work it into my day, I always try to take it. Thanks to the LG G3 powered by Verizon Wireless, balancing my social & work life has become a nearly effortless process. Being able to meet a friend 35 minutes from home and still being able to listen to the Verizon IndyCar Series Go Pro Grand Prix of Sonoma practice on the drive back was the perfect example. I could spend quality time with friends and complete my work responsibilities without one having to be sacrificed for the other. This kind of time-management is priceless for me & my very packed schedule.

FLAWLESS DATA COVERAGE & UNINTERRUPTED SERVICE

I love that I can multi-task on the 4G LTE network thanks to double the bandwidth – over the course of 30 minutes on a Sunday, I was able to listen to the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers meeting from Sonoma Raceway streamed live on the IndyCar 14 app, coordinate a hotel stay for my cousin coming in from Canada by talking over the Facebook Messenger app & make that reservation through my SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest) app. Three totally unrelated applications, working together seamlessly to allow me to accomplish 3 things at once… one of the many reasons Verizon Wireless is America’s most reliable network.

SECURITY

Not only is the network reliability something I depend heavily upon, but the security of my information is something I barely even think about anymore because LG & Verizon have done it for me! I was out with my cousin for his birthday in August & he asked if he could take a look at my new phone – I handed it to him, forgetting about the KNOCK Code I had set. He touched the screen a few times, looked for buttons on the side and then looked at me frustrated, “How do I turn it on?!” I laughed and told him the sequence and location for tapping the black screen that I had set. He did it, the screen lit up and I could see he was impressed. I told him to just swipe the padlock icon on the screen and he could have access to the phone. He really seemed to enjoy it, as did his brother & friends that were at the dinner with us.

My cousin is very tech-savvy, so to see the phone actually make him stop and wonder how to even turn it on, made me feel secure that my information was protected if I happened to misplace it or leave it somewhere unattended. According to LG, this trademarked KNOCK Code system rivals fingerprint sensors. You can set the pattern to anything you want, between 3 and 8 knocks – and you can change it when or if you ever feel it’s warranted.

CAMERA & VIDEO

0820142150b~2A live concert featuring up & coming rock band, Kongos, at the House of Blues in Clevelad, an evening out go-karting with family near Lake Erie, the Cleveland National Air Show featuring the Blue Angels, weekends at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indy Museum of Art on a Sunday, and a visit to Cedar Point during Halloweekends…PhotoGrid_1408671565786

These are just a few examples of my absolute favorite picture-taking opportunities over the past few weeks. The LG G3 camera phone is absolutely incredible, flat out. It has 13 megapixels and the ability to true-capture images regardless of light levels. The quick focus on the lens is pretty remarkable, but then again, it is measured by a laser to give the most accurate view and it has Optical Image Stabilization to assist in reducing blurriness of photos even when the phone might be a little shaky. The different effects you can apply to photos, such as HDR-imaging, create images as true to the eye as possible, if not even a little bit better! One of my friends said that these photos look more like artwork or a painting than a photograph – let alone a camera phone photo! I hope you enjoy the selection of photos presented here, and keep in mind you can always visit my Twitter page if you’d like to see more.

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Spotlight Fun Feature: you can set the phone for one-handed picture taking by clicking once on the triple-dot icon in the upper right corner when you are in the camera app – this hides all other icons & menu items from view. A single tap to the screen in this setting directs the camera where to focus in on your subject and then captures the image you desire. For those who seem to be juggling mulitple things all the time, this is truly an awesome feature!

The video capabilities of this phone benefit just as much from the features, as the camera. When using the Vine app on the LG G3, I noticed a distinct difference in the quality of the film that I took in comparison to past phones. Take a look & listen to the best alarm clock ever, to see what I mean!

THE LG G3 SELLS ITSELF

Friends, family, co-workers and customers have been more intrigued by this device, more than any other device I’ve reviewed or carried. The aesthetics of it alone make it stand out in the crowd – which is saying something given how many different smartphones are on the market. I’ve had people ask me about it, ask to hold it, check out how it fits in their back pocket, what it is that makes the screen so sharp and colors so bold. It receives so much attention on its own & it’s truly a conversation starter. The 5.5 inch screen with Quad HD display provides a resolution four times that of your typical HD smartphone display. It’s so noticeable that it demands attention… and boy, does it get it!

Buttons on the back of a phone seem like strange placement in theory, but it is actually more natural than the side and top buttons we’ve become accustomed to. I notice myself pressing the back of my Blackberry now to try and turn it off! The placement makes complete sense for the way you hold your phone and yet there is no accidental pressing of these buttons in the midst of working – I think this feature is one that will be copied by many other manufacturers. LG is setting a precedent for a sleek body and user-friendly customization for all.

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If we are talking about customization, I have to bring up the LG G3’s Smart Keyboard. I have to admit that I’ve always had a preference for the physical keyboard on a smartphone, which is one big reason I still opt to own a Blackberry. The accuracy of a physical keyboard is unrivaled by touchscreens. Until now. The LG G3’s Smart Keyboard allowed me to change the size of the keyboard and keys for a custom fit to my typing habits on the screen. The Smart Keyboard also balanced what my intentions were for typing and making suggestions for words (known as autocorrect). This phone did not “jump” on the opportunity to correct me as much as other touchscreen Android & Windows OS smartphones. I liked that it gave the 3 most common words across the top of the keyboard, with the one it thought I wanted in the center & in bold. I was easily able to add words to the dictionary as well, making key phrases or slang terms & abbreviations I use with friends much easier to add to conversations!

The last thing I have to mention as far as the functional aesthetics of the LG G3 is the screen brightness & contrast. With many phone, bright sunlight creates a faded screen that makes it almost impossible to see what you’re doing, which is a big problem when you are outside as much as I am for work! The G3 however, has an easily accessible menu that you can swipe down from the top of any page – one of the options on there is brightness. Normally, you can leave this on Auto, but if you turn it all the way up when outside, the sunlight will not take away from your screen visibility.

MAKES TRAVELING EFFICIENT & SECURE

This phone allowed me to make use of checking in online for my flight 24 hours early and use the boarding pass scan code instead of having to print it out, for the first time! In order to make this process as simple as possible, I used the Gmail widget to set my travel folder as one of the home pages on the LG G3. I could very simply access all my travel related emails/documents – boarding pass, rental car confirmation, hotel reservation details and race track schedule.

The rental car confirmation really came in handy when I reached the Enterprise Rent-A-Car location at Los Angeles International Airport. They had self-check kiosks available and by pulling out my drivers license & having my email handy, I was in and out of the facility in less than 10 minutes. That is almost unheard of! The G3 made things so easy – so while others were fumbling through paperwork or trying to find the email in their phone, I had mine at immediate disposal, got a great car and was on the road before others had even entered their reservation confirmation number!

CONTACTS TRANSFER & EMAIL ATTACHMENTS

There were very few issues I found with the LG G3 Android device, but one of them I noticed immediately and found a bit frustrating. On Android devices I have used in the past there is a feature in settings that allows you to pull content such as contacts off your old phone or a second phone by connecting the phones with Bluetooth and syncing. I love this ability as it makes things very convenient – particularly if you’re like me & you have over 700 contacts in your address book! Unfortunately this feature was not on the LG G3 and therefore I referenced my personal phone more often than not when needing to call, text or email someone. I think this feature should be added to the LG G3 or the next device that LG comes out with, simply for client convenience & ease of transition.

The other issue that caused a rather significant inconvenience for me was the inability to select multiple photos when creating an email attachment. I was only able to select one photo at a time & when I was scrolling through 1,400+ photos from a race weekend & the ones I needed were roughly in the middle of the folder, it created a huge issue. Because of how much time it would take to connect a dozen photos, I had to wait until I was back in my hotel, get them all uploaded and then send them out. Unfortunately, the hotel was having WiFi connectivity issues that evening. It was already past midnight & I then had to go back and send each one individually as a MMS text message to the person in need of them. This all created quite a lag in timeliness and led to me losing nearly 2 hours of sleep. I had an early flight in the morning – so this did not make create a great evening for me.

The one upside was that the photos uploaded quickly in each text message thanks to the 4G LTE Verizon Wireless network, so at least that did not add more time to the already tedious process.

SENSITIVE MATERIAL & TIMELY UPDATES

I was able to stay updated in real-time while at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California for the Verizon IndyCar Series season finale. When one of the drivers was involved in a very serious accident at the track during a night practice session, it was crucial for me to get immediate & accurate information out to our followers. By speaking to individuals there at the track as well as keeping up with the official releases thanks to real-time social media and email notifications, I could be confident that my reporting was accurate, relevant and sensitive to the situation.

Another real-time advantage to the LG G3 powered by the 4G LTE Verizon Wireless network, was learning about my flight changes on the way back to Ohio, before anything was even announced at the gate. I received live updates on my Google+ cards page about my flight’s time being delayed, and the gate we were being moved to. By the time I was settled at the new gate, I heard the announcement made on the overhead. This little bit of notification ahead of time, allowed me to avoid that panic and mass-rush that you usually experience with flight changes.

CUSTOMIZATION, PRE-INSTALLED FEATURES & APPLICATION ACCESS

I feel like my life is always changing and I enjoy that I can customize the LG G3 homescreen pages based on what I’m doing that day, that week, etc. I kept the SPG App with my upcoming stays on the home page during travel weekends & then moved it to a secondary page when I was back home in Cleveland. I use different apps in the off-season than during race season. For example, I don’t need quick access to the NBC Sports Live Extra as often right now, since practice & qualifying won’t be a concern again until March! I love the customization of the LG G3 & how personal the phone feels due to ease of access to the things that are important to me at any given time.

One pre-installed feature that I gave a shot, was the Smart Notices Personal Assistant. Unfortunately, it didn’t provide enough insight or relevant information for me personally, to use regularly. The app seemed repetitive with its updates or gave me information that was rather inconsequential to my routine. This feature took things like time of day, location, events coming up, etc., into account to make “recommendations”. I opted to turn this feature off. That’s one thing that’s really nice about this phone – it doesn’t force you to use the features it comes installed with – it understands you may opt to do things a different way, and that’s okay!

There was a feature however, that I used many times a day. It was the circular menu that appeared when you would swipe the screen up from the bottom of the phone. Three options would pop up:

1.)   Voice Mate which allows you to get tasks done via voice command on the phone. You can send text messages (voice to text or simply a voice message via text), make phone calls, request to see your schedule, set your alarms… the possibilities are endless & it’s a very handy feature if you’re always on the go

2.)   A personalized Google Home Page which includes all your Google+ cards and activities tailored to you; including upcoming events that you bought tickets for, RSVP’ed to on social media, or have on your calendar, travel information like upcoming flights, hotel reservations and rental car confirmations, and even a Google search bar so you can find whatever in the world you are looking for!

3.)   And of course, QuickMemo+, where you can use a blank sheet of virtual paper to type notes, scribble notes, or even grab a screen cap of something in order to  write or draw on the image to draw attention to particular information. I utilized this feature during radio interviews to stay on track and reference my notes for the topics we discussed.

All in all, I’m not sure I could be any more impressed by a smart phone. I dare say this is THE device to beat on the market today. The LG G3 with Android OS, powered by Verizon Wireless is extremely user-friendly straight out of the box with a surprisingly long battery life and quick charging when needed. It truly learns your habits & activities and looks great in the process, “evolving” to the point that it feels like the LG G3 was designed specifically for you and your life. I will be honest with you and say, this will definitely be the device I have the hardest time parting with. I hope you have a chance to check one out at your nearest Verizon Wireless. I will give you one warning however; going to “check out” the LG G3 is like going to look at puppies at the animal shelter. You might think you are going just to see what your options are, but once you pick one up, you will not be able to put it back down. So, be fully prepared to come home with an awesome new addition to your life.