i-mate Ultimate 8150 review: i-mate Ultimate 8150

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The Good Excellent VGA display. Fast 520MHz processor. XGA TV-Out. Excellent connectivity options. Numeric keypad.

The Bad Dismal battery life. Large, heavy handset.

The Bottom Line The same powerhouse performance you'll find in the Ultimate 6150, and, of course, the same shortcomings. If you plan to write a lot of messages and e-mails we think you'll appreciate the keypad.

8.4 Overall

i-mate have released two new PDA-phones in its Ultimate series and the differences between them are only cosmetic. For a detailed review of the features and performance that applies to both handsets, be sure to read our review of the Ultimate 6150.

To keypad or not to keypad? This is the single decision to make when choosing between i-mate's Ultimate 6150 and 8150. Both handsets feature the same dimensions, hardware and applications; the only difference being that the 8150 features an alpha-numeric keypad and sacrifices 0.2-inches of screen real estate to accommodate this.

For our money, everyone needs a keypad. Text input is always faster, especially with the assistance of good predictive text software, which the 8150 also has. There's sure to be dozens of touchscreen aficionados crying bloody murder about this opinion in our talkback, but we stand by it.

That said, the keypad on the 8150 isn't the best. The area dedicated to it is a bit too small, and while the keys have ample space horizontally, they are too small vertically. On top of this, the keypad lays flush with the surface of the handset, and while this is may be more aesthetically pleasing, it makes it harder to accurately differentiate between keys when typing quickly.

If the difference in screen size was more substantial the decision would be much more difficult. But losing 0.2-inches of screen size really isn't going to affect your experience of reading e-mails or Web sites, and the ability to completely control the 8150 without touching the screen is a handy option to have for numerous everyday tasks.

Considering the two devices have matching retail prices, our pick is the 8150. It's a shame that the keypad isn't as easy to use as we'd like.

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