The LG VX9800 phone from Verizon Wireless is probably a little like meeting Tom Cruise in person. It's smaller than you expected and far more dogmatic about personal choices than you'd hope. Standing 4 1/2 inches on end and 2 inches wide, the VX9800 is surprisingly compact. It looks like a thick candy-bar phone until you flip it open to find a keyboard, a color screen and a pair of speakers. It is one of the first multimedia phones designed to work on Verizon Wireless' new third-generation, or 3G, network. Verizon bills this as the all-in-one phone that unlocks the door to a dazzlingly rich and informative wireless world. Unfortunately, what the phone actually delivers is a world with lots of limits and plenty of little price tags attached. The VX9800 gets huge style points for its wide QWERTY keyboard. But then come the demerits for the skimpy display screen. For whatever reason, the LG/Verizon braintrust decided to put a 2.25-inch screen in a 3-inch opening. It's an odd move for a flagship 3G video and gaming phone. And even with the puny screen, don't expect to see a bargain basement price. The VX9800 is in the same bracket as rival devices like the new Palm Treo and the Sony PSP. The VX9088 goes for $300 with rebate and two-year contract. And in addition to your calling plan, you will pay another $25 a month for unlimited messaging and access to the games and media offerings. After sinking hundreds of millions of dollars into a fast evolution data-only, or EV-DO, upgrade to its network, Verizon Wireless' desire to sell lots of videos and music is understandable. But if you promise the kids thrill rides, you better deliver an amusement park.
Even though AT&T tried a last-minute bribe of promising 5,000 new U.S. jobs to help gain support for the deal, the Justice Department filed a complaint to fight the combination of the nation's No. 2 and No. 4 wireless carriers.