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i-mate JASJAR review: i-mate JASJAR

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The Good Fast. Unparalleled array of connectivity options. Two integrated cameras. High resolution screen. Huge QWERTY keypad leads to painless data entry. Swivel screen adds versatility.

The Bad Expensive. Design isn't suitable for use as your full-time phone. Large and heavy. Camera shots are grainy.

The Bottom Line Despite its unsavoury aesthetics, the JASJAR is an ideal companion for the mobile professional that needs to input large amounts of data on the go.

7.3 Overall

Review Sections

Design
If portability, aesthetics, and usability of phone functions are of significant importance to you when purchasing a PDA, you may as well close this browser window now. The JASJAR is not for the stylish teen or those with simple needs; it's a business tool designed specifically for mobile professionals. For most, one look at the device is sure to be a dead giveaway of this fact -- it's an eye-sore, to be frank.

It weighs 285g and measures 81mm by 127.7mm by 25mm; given the fact that it's equipped with a 62-key QWERTY keyboard and swivelling touch screen, we're unsure whether to call it a miniaturised laptop PC or a smartphone. Regardless, one great aspect of this design is that data entry ranks among the best we've seen from a device of this size. Punching out long e-mails and word documents is extremely comfortable, thanks to the relatively large keys.

In addition to the keypad, data can also be inputted using the stylus and 3.6-inch touchscreen. Yet pulling out the stylus when you only need to accomplish a simple task can be a chore, so there's also a number of handy shortcut keys. Volume, camera, voice dial, calling and power buttons all make an appearance and, thankfully, they're all located in logical positions.

The swivelling screen allows the device to be closed with the screen facing either internally or externally. The former provides protection against scratching, but if you plan to use the phone feature you'll want to have the screen facing outwards, as the speaker and microphone are located here. It's also worth noting that the JASJAR will automatically switch between portrait and landscape modes depending on the position of the screen.

Although the device's form factor makes it an ideal portable workstation, the opposite can be said for using it as your everyday phone. The shape makes it uncomfortable to hold, while its size means you'll probably prefer to carry it in a shoulder bag -- and out of ear-shot -- rather than in a jeans pocket. That is, unless you want to look like you've had thigh implants. Those that don't have issues with toting a Bluetooth headset may cope with using the device as a full-time phone, but we have a feeling that many will pass on this proposition.

If you do decide to carry it around in your briefcase, you needn't worry about the device falling to pieces. Durability is one of the JASJAR's strong points; it's constructed using a confluence of metal and a hard plastic, which is fairly difficult to scratch.

Features
One of the most impressive aspects of the JASJAR is its 3G network support, as smartphones aren't commonly 3G-capable. The device also sports tri-band GSM/GPRS (900/1800/1900) connectivity, 802.11b Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Infrared, making it easily the most connected PDA/smartphone device we've encountered.

It's got two integrated cameras -- one 1.3-megapixel offering (with flash/focus light) on the back, and a secondary CIF (352x288) camera on the front for video conferencing. The second camera complements the 3G connectivity option nicely, as it provides a compelling application for making use of the additional bandwidth provided by a 3G network.

If you're not impressed yet, you will be when you hear that the device's 3.6-inch display boasts a resolution of 640x480. There's plenty of screen space to work with, and we didn't have any issues reading the display while outdoors.

Under the hood is a powerful set of components, including a speedy 520MHz Intel processor, 64MB of RAM and 128MB of flash ROM.  Should you require more space to store your files, there's also an SD expansion slot.

Like most current smartphones, the JASJAR runs Windows Mobile 5.0, and thus comes bundled with pocket versions of Office (Word, Excel and PowerPoint), Outlook, Internet Explorer and MSN Messenger. Your files and tasks can be synchronised with your desktop PC using ActiveSync, which also allows you to install any third-party Java applications.

Of course, push e-mail is supported as well. If your JASJAR isn't updated to include this feature, be sure to check out our DIY guide on the subject for detailed information on how to do this yourself.

Performance
We apologise for labouring the point, but we must re-iterate that we found the JASJAR to be unsuitable for use as a primary mobile phone. Unless you're comfortable using a Bluetooth headset, you'll soon tire of the device's size, weight and unorthodox design.

Trigger happy photographers will also be disappointed with the JASJAR, as the 1.3-megapixel camera produces fairly grainy shots. We were happy with the inclusion of a focus assist light, which is handy for when you're shooting in a dimly lit room. Even so, the pictures are nothing compared to that offered by other phone cameras such as the Sony Ericsson K800i.

Now that we've got that off our chest, let's discuss the reasons why you would want to purchase this device. For a start, its huge keypad and screen make it a pleasure to work with no matter where you are. Even if you're in a darkened room, the red keyboard backlight will soon light up to save the day. Typing up lengthy documents and e-mails is a breeze, and if you slot in a 3G sim card you're able to access the internet at entry-level broadband speeds. In fact, the slew of bundled Windows Mobile 5.0 applications makes it possible to run your business almost entirely on the go, without ever having to plant yourself at a desk.

We found the processor and RAM to be adequate, and there's little delay when loading up applications. The JASJAR's battery provides around eight hours of talk time (slightly less if you're on 3G) and around 250 hours of standby time.

Despite its unsavoury aesthetics, the JASJAR is an ideal companion for the mobile professional that needs to input large amounts of data on the go.

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