The first thing you'll notice about the I-mate Jam is that it lacks a QWERTY keyboard. But while the I-mate Jam is definitely a smart phone, as its name suggests, this baby is all about multimedia. We got our hands on an unlocked version of this triband (GSM 850/1800/1900) smart phone and, using a Cingular Wireless SIM card, were able to put it through its paces. The lack of a dedicated keyboard took some acclimation and is destined to be a point of conflict, but we were happy once we were up and running. Compared to other I-mate products, the Jam feels good and sturdy in your hand, and since there's no dedicated keyboard taking up room, there's tons of space for its huge screen. Shipping with Windows Mobile 2003 SE, the Jam has Mobile Media Player 10.0, which makes getting multimedia content onto the device a cinch. Kudos aside, since the I-mate Jam has yet to get picked up by a carrier here in the States, you'll pay a premium for it. At the time of this writing, unlocked phones are going for upward of $600, but if a carrier ever picks it up, it will be less expensive with a service agreement. Compared to the I-mate SP3i, the I-mate Jam's overall shape is reminiscent of a traditional PDA's, albeit one on the smaller side (108mm by 58mm by 18.1mm). The I-mate Jam's most striking feature is its large screen: 2.8 inches diagonally or 240x320 pixels with support for 65,000 colors. It also has a sleek silver and black design, and we had no problem fitting the Jam in a pants or even a shirt pocket.
Below the screen is a five-way toggle that is flanked on its left with a Talk key, and in turn, a dedicated key to access your contact information sits below it. To the right of the toggle is the End key, and further down, you'll find a calendar button. Because the Jam is a full-fledged PDA, you'll do most of your navigating with the included stylus. For text input, the I-mate Jam has a soft keyboard that pops up when you activate a feature that requires data input.
To make a call, you simply hit the Talk button; Windows Mobile's phone interface pops up, and you use the stylus to tap the numbers. While some users find this annoying, others don't mind it at all. As for the other controls, on top of the device is the SD slot. On the right side is the power button, the sleeve for the stylus, and the IR port. On the left side is the camera button, a volume rocker, and a key to activate the voice recorder. On the back of the device, you'll find the lens for the 1.3-megapixel camera and a tiny mirror for taking self-portraits. On the bottom are the USB port and the minijack for the included stereo earbuds that ship with the device. As with other smart phones, the headphone jack doesn't accept standard headphones.
We like that the Jam's battery can be charged through your computer's USB port or with the included power adapter. The device also comes with a belt holster and stereo earbuds that let you listen to music, watch videos, or talk hands-free.Running Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition, the I-mate Jam boasts all of the PIM applications you'd expect from Windows Mobile-based PDA (address book, calendar, in-box, and so on) and Pocket versions of Word, Excel, and Internet Explorer. Since the Jam is a multimedia smart phone, we were pleased that it shipped with Mobile Media Player 10.0 Mobile, which provides for seamless integration with the desktop version of Media Player 10.0. Additionally, Media Player 10.0 Mobile is capable of playing WMV and WMA files (video and audio, respectively), as well as MP3s, and it supports album art. While the Jam's screen is nice in and of itself, you can switch it from Portrait to Landscape mode on the fly, which is often handy for viewing multimedia content or taking landscape pictures.
The I-mate Jam's 1.3-megapixel camera can capture still photos in four resolutions: 1,280x960, 640x480, 320x240, and 160x120. The camera also sports several brightness settings, including auto, incandescent, fluorescent, and night. Users can also add special effects such as Sepia, Grayscale, Cool, or Negative. The camera is capable of shooting video in 320x240, 176x144, and 128x96 resolutions, and the same effects are available with still images and videos; the latter is saved in either MPEG-4 or Motion-JPEG AVI.
Once you're done shooting your masterpieces, you can send them via MMS or e-mail; transfer them to your computer via IR or Bluetooth; or save them to the SD card and transfer them that way. You can also assign photos to contacts. Photo quality was about what we expected. They're fun but not necessarily printworthy. And since the Jam lacks a flash, shots taken in dark environments left much to be desired.
The I-mate Jam ships with 128MB of shared memory. It's billed as a multimedia device, and we would have preferred it to ship with more internal memory or at least an SD card, though the 128MB of memory is more than enough for your PIM data. Similar to its little brother, the I-mate SP3i, the Jam didn't ship with integrated Wi-Fi. It does, however, have Bluetooth and an IR port. Since we tested an unlocked model, the Bluetooth functionality wasn't hobbled. Additionally, the I-mate Jam ships with a speakerphone that you can activate once a call is in progress.
One issue with buying an unlocked smart phone is that you don't necessarily benefit from being able to simply use a wireless provider's connectivity software right out of the box (think Cingular Xpress Mail). Of course, if your company runs GoodLink or Exchange ActiveSync, this isn't a problem. Also, if you need it for only POP mail, then you're good to go.We tested the triband (GSM 850/1800/1900) I-mate Jam in the San Francisco Bay Area using Cingular Wireless service, and call quality was good on both ends. The included stereo headset was great for both phone calls and listening digital audio files. We also appreciated being able to use a wireless Bluetooth headset. We paired the I-mate Jam with the Logitech Mobile Freedom Bluetooth headset with no problems.