I have to say at first glance this phone looks like any other HTC business smartphone, but once you power it up there's a whole new world with the Android OS that our friends at Google have given us. I have to say it’s a great initial effort since many folks thought we wouldn’t even see an Android based phone in 2008. Okay, barely but it made it.

The commercials and images do not do this phone much justice. It’s really a device with endless possibilities thanks to the Open Source Android OS. Being the first v1.0 product to be released using Android I think they did a pretty good job. Of course, as you would expect with any initial launch there’s plenty of room for improvement. For example, the buttons on the bottom of the G1 (on the right in landscape mode) really get in the way when using the keyboard. We struggled with this when texting. Eventually you get used to it but it’s a bit awkward and we hope it gets addressed in Rev 2.

Okay, so who’s interested? Well, the G1 is a good choice for someone who loves gadgets and is willing to wait for the OS to be modified and expanded. Thankfully we don’t have to wait on T-Mobile/Google 100% to make it happen; instead we have the entire Android developer world working to improve it as well. If you’re a T-Mobile customer this device is a great option for you, especially given T-Mobile's current roadmap for Smartphones.

When I look at the hardware and industrial design the G1 literally looks like a developer phone or even a Beta unit. Given the weight, size, and soft-touch matte finish it seems like it’s a very sturdy device that could easily take a drop or two and survive (which is very important). If I were to sum it up, it’s like a combination of an HTC Business Smartphone, T-Mobile SideKick, and full Touch Screen device running the Google Android OS.

Verizon is really starting to get its act together on the music front. The new Rhapsody + V CAST offering is exponentially better than the previous V CAST store and the user experience on the phones is starting to rival standalone MP3 players.

For example, check out the LG Chocolate 3. This phone proves that the third time really is the charm. Previous Chocolates were trendy and did pretty well but never really felt refined enough to recommend. The Chocolate 3 changes all of that.

First off it’s a classic flip that’s easy to tuck away. The buttons feel solid and it has dedicated music buttons. We tried one of the new SanDisk slotMusic cards with this phone and had the music playing in 2 clicks. That’s faster than you can access music on some dedicated MP3 players.

The chocolate includes a full size 3.5mm headphone jack making it easy to plug it directly into the aux input on a car stereo head unit. If that’s not an option it also has an FM transmitter to broadcast the music to your car stereo. This probably won’t be great for battery life but in the car you can have the phone charging anyway. In standalone mode playing music on the built in speakers it sounds like a decent clock radio. Plug in headphones and you’re rockin.

Other features include Bluetooth®, 1GB of internal memory, a 2.0 megapixel camera and a microSD slot for adding more memory, up to 8GB or about 2000 songs. By the way we were able to grab some images from the slotMusic card and use it as wallpaper on the phone.

If you're looking for a new cell phone this summer and you want the best, check out our funky five.  It's hard to go wrong with any of these phones.

Depending on your carrier you won't have many options but if you were choosing solely on the functionality of the phone and user experience this is our ranking. Phones are pictured  1-5 From Left to Right.

1.  iPhone 3G - With AT&T's healthy subsidy how do you you compete with this? The Interface isn't for everyone however.

2. Nokia N95 - Aside from a goofy power button this brick does it all.  Looking more like a camera than a phone it's a true entertainer.

3. AT&T Tilt  - For those who like the tactile feedback of actual keys.

4. Samsung Instinct -  We never liked that stinkin Blackjack but this isn't bad.  Sprint customers rejoice.

5. LG Dare - Apple and Nokia are the kings of handheld UI but LG isn't half bad.  Can you hear me now?

LG just keeps rolling out the hits for Verizon. The new LG Voyager is one of the first phones to incorporate both a touch screen and full QWERTY keyboard. It includes all the latest toys and features such as Bluetooth, a 2MB camera, MP3 player, and an eight GB SD slot for more storage.

The Voyager is obviously inspired by the iPhone. It doesn't have the ease of use or the elegance of the iPhone but once you play around with it a bit all the functionality is there. Plus something the iPhone doesn't have is real buttons. Having a touch screen in addition to the full QWERTY keyboard is really nice.
Portable GPS units are hot items these days and very few pack the features of the 720t. The Mio Digiwalker 720t from Mio Technology does it all but needs a little work on the integration of the various apps and a consistent GUI to tie it all together. This is common in devices that have 'kitchen sink' feature sets often from myriad developers. The 720t is a very capable portable GPS unit first and a camera, media player, Bluetooth enabled device second.
Our gadget girl Sandy travels the world setting up facilities for one of the biggest companies here in Silicon Valley. She was one of the first to get her hands on a Motorola Q. The IT guys impressed her by jacking into their SlingBox remotely to watch the World Cup on the Q. The pictures and video are cool but what Sandy really needs is one device for her two lifelines, voice and email.

Sandy dropped her BlackBerry in favor of the Motorola Q for better quality voice calls but has since come back to the BlackBerry. The BlackBerry 8700g is the reason. The 8700g combined with worldwide access and better voice quality flat out beats the Q.
When I first heard about the release of the new 8800 corporate blackberry in January, I told my wife 'I know what you can get me for my birthday this May.' Well, I could not delay gratification until May (that is another story) and I ordered one from Cingular. The good news is its sleek, sexy and solid, media friendly, includes GPS and has a trackball. The downside is the 'Select Menu' interface is a giant step backwards, the speakerphone is horrible and there's no dedicated profile/alert mode button (silent, ring, vibrate).
Our gadget girl Sandy travels the world setting up facilities for one of the biggest companies here in Silicon Valley. She was one of the first to get her hands on a Q. The IT guys impressed her by jacking into their SlingBox remotely to watch the World Cup on the Q. The pictures and video are cool but what Sandy really needs is one device for who two lifelines, voice and email.

Sandy loves her BlackBerry and was hoping the new BlackBerry phone would make her life easier. Up until this point she's used just about every PDA, phone and combo unit she could get her hands on with every telecom provider in the US and elsewhere. When Sandy tells us which combination of hardware and software rally works we listen.
Verizon is attempting to build a brand with its V CAST content. Some consumers are still confused by what exactly the V in V CAST means. Video immediately comes to mind. But V CAST or Verizon CAST encompasses both video and audio content.

Cell phones have morphed into personal assistants and entertainment gadgets so it only makes sense for service providers to get into the content game. Verizon launched its music service earlier this year with 500,000 songs and now offers a million + tracks for download.
The LG VX8100 V CAST phone combines a plethora of features in an ergonomic friendly package that's neither too big nor small. We really like the slightly raised keypad and fast response of this phone when dialing numbers or navigating the menu. Verizon wisely started porting the same GUI and menu structure to all of its phones. This way buying a new phone doesn't mean learning how to use it all over again.

We compared the entry level Samsung models, the SCH-a850 and SCH-a630 to the LG VX 8100. Lots of consumers simply go into a Verizon retail outlet and opt for the cheapest phone running with the current promotion. That's reasonable. However, free upgrades are free for a reason.
The LG VX8000 is a very impressive phone right out of the box. It's just the right size and features the outstanding ergonomics of a typical LG flip phone. The VX8000 is a little bigger than the ubiquitous VX4400 and packs a whole new feature set including V CAST capability, Internet, 1.3MP camera with video, and a larger, better full color display. It's one of the best displays we've seen.

Sound quality is on par with the VX4400. Most people I talked to couldn't tell I was on a new phone and when I told them they simply said, 'yeah, you sound good.' After a couple of dropped calls in a known problem area using the VX 4400 I called one client back using the VX8000 and we managed to stay connected.

The camera on the VX 8000 takes decent photos. The VX8000 allow you to set the quality and size of the phone, ISO speed, brightness, color/sepia/black and white'etc. However, navigating the menu could quickly become tiresome. It's more likely you'll set it up once and forget it but it's nice to have the options. It would also be nice to be able to snap a few pics and decide what to do with them later. The VX 8000 wants an answer after each snap. Do you want to save, delete or send it'