As shiny and black as Darth Vader's helmet, with controls that glow like his red lightsaber, the LG KG800, or Chocolate, as it's also known, is one of the most striking mobiles I have seen. In the manufacturer's South Korean homeland, people have been snapping them up for a few months now, but this week they finally launched here in Europe, and I've been getting to grips with one for a couple of days. So, does is it light on cocoa-solids like your average Hershey's Bar, or are we talking Valrhona's limited-edition vintage bar, made from single-estate Madagascan beans?
Just to give you a bit of background, my past three handsets have been Sony Ericsson, and before that I chose Nokias. They were all candy bars, as I never liked clamshells. However, sliders are apparently the style of choice for 2006, and not just for Trekkies, so I plumped for the LG.
I've already said it looks great, as you can see from the pictures, but it also feels fantastic too. It's nearly as thin as one of Motorola's RAZR phones, and the spring-loaded slide mechanism works very smoothly. When it's open, the touch-sensitive controls glow red, and at the back, the camera appears. A bit like when you first used the iPod's scrollwheel, using these controls takes a bit of getting used to. They're fairly sensitive, but they definitely add to the handset's minimalist, Nano-inspired style. Like Apple's miniature masterpiece, the Chocolate's screen is crisp and clear. Unfortunately, it's black case also attracts scratches and fingerprints very easily.
As for the User Interface, it's fairly intuitive, but not as pretty as Sony Ericsson's latest efforts. Bundled software is limited too, with Sudoku the only game included on the handset. Despite only being 1.3 megapixels, the camera is relatively quick to take a decent picture, and as you would expect, the video it shoots is watchable, but fairly basic.
The luxe feel is completed by the packaging. A magnetically-sealed box that looks like it's made of carbon fibre contains the phone, a vital soft-pouch to keep it in, and other extras like a decent hands-free kit and PC software.
You've probably realized already that the LG Chocolate is more style than substance, with the celebrities the company has got on board to promote the thing. For that reason, it's not quite up to Valrhona standards, but is still good enough to be likened to, say, Green & Black's Dark. Cocoa mark: 70%
Note: The latest slider from LG, soon to be released in Korea, is the KV6000 or Black Label. It's quite similar to the Chocolate, but has gold or silver trim that gives it an old-school cigar box look.