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i-mate K-JAM review: i-mate K-JAM

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The Good Charges via USB. Quad-band good for travellers. Supports Wi-Fi. Good battery life.

The Bad Rotation is twitchy. Processor performance only average. Screen could be easily damaged. Very ordinary camera. No 3G.

The Bottom Line The i-mate K-JAM offers a good package of business features at an acceptable price, although if you want top-notch performance, look elsewhere.

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Review Sections

Design
The i-Mate K-JAM, on first glance, appears to look much like any other touchscreen smartphone; a simple set of dialling buttons surrounding a five-way selector underneath a 2.8-inch, 240x320 pixel display, which would lead you to suspect that it utilises a naff touchscreen for all of its typing activities. Those who have used other i-mate products -- most notably the i-mate JASJAR won't be too surprised to find that the K-JAM hides a QWERTY keyboard, although unlike the JASJAR, there's no facility to flip and spin the screen; it instead simply slides out on the vertical axis, like some kind of slider phone experiment flipped through 90 degrees. When the keyboard is slid out, the display likewise flips through 90 degrees and becomes an instantly more business-document-friendly widescreen aspect ratio. The keyboard itself is understandably very small -- fitting into a 108 by 58 by 23.7 millimetre frame doesn't afford you a lot of key space to begin with -- but reasonably responsive, and certainly good enough for typing out quick messages, responding to emails or simple document editing. The rear of the K-JAM houses a 1.3-megapixel digital camera, the battery casing, which is locked into position, and the stylus which sits at the base of the K-JAM body, next to the USB port which serves double duty as a data and charging port.

Like the JASJAR, the visual design of the K-JAM is on the plain side, which is presumably meant to entice IT departments into buying shedloads of the things. With its bulky shape and fairly hefty carrying weight of 160 grams, this isn't a phone to bring out to impress your pub mates, although it's conceivable you might get the odd envious glance from within the corporate boardroom while weilding one.

Features
The phone portion of the K-JAM is, like many modern smartphones, quad-band GSM (850/900/1800/1900) designed for cross-planet roaming wherever you can get an actual mobile signal. It's also equipped with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi (802.11b/g), miniSD and the aforementioned USB port for data transfers, as well as an infrared port for talking to truly ancient phones.

On the smartphone side, the K-JAM packs in 128MB of ROM and 64MB of SDRAM; that's a touch on the low side, although it could be supplanted with a miniSD card. It's somewhat meagre Texas Instruments OMAP 850 200MHz processor runs Windows Mobile 5.0, which gives you access to a raft of productivity applications, including Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Outlook, along with slightly less business-centric applications such as Media Player, Internet Explorer and MSN Messenger.

Performance
i-Mate rates the K-JAM's 1250mAh Lithium Ion battery as being good for between 3.5-5 hours of talk time and between 150-200 hours of standby time. Our testing revealed figures slightly lower than that, although we're used to seeing phone manufacturer stated figures sit on the optimistic side. On a moderately heavy usage profile we were able to keep the K-JAM up and running for around four days in between charges. That was with relatively low wireless and Bluetooth usage; you could expect to halve that (or worse) if you were a heavy data pusher. We did like the fact that the phone charges from any USB connection, including when it's plugged in for data transfers.

On the application side, the K-JAM performed at what we'd deem an acceptable level for a smartphone, but never really swiftly, which we'd put down to the comparatively weak 200MHz processor at its core. It was most noticeable when using the camera functionality; while most camera phones are particularly built for opportunity-based snapshots, the four to five seconds you'll have to wait for the camera to fire up will render most such opportunities with the K-JAM wasted.

The K-JAM is currently available at a lower asking price than the JASJAR -- that's hardly surprising, given the somewhat lower specification screen, lack of 3G support and much less grunty processor, and for what it offers is good value in a very competitive smartphone space.

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