- Windows Mobile 5
- built-in QWERTY keyboard
- swivelling landscape/portrait screen
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth integrated
- 3G support
- bigger than the average Pocket PC
- keyboard is too small for touch typing
- SIM required for 3G or GSM/GPRS use
The JASJAR from i-mate is a clamshell-format Pocket PC/phone that's very similar to O2's Xda Exec and Orange's SPV M5000 (all of these devices -- as well as T-Mobile's MDA Pro and Vodafone's VDA IV -- are based on the HTC Universal). Uniquely, the JASJAR is available operator- and SIM-free, albeit at a hefty £634.95 (inc. VAT) from Expansys.
If you've read our reviews of the O2 Xda Exec or Orange SPV M5000, you'll be aware of the flexible clamshell design of this Windows Mobile 5 device. Briefly, in the JASJAR opens, notebook-style to reveal a VGA-resolution screen and a small QWERTY keyboard; the screen also swivels, Tablet-PC-style, through 180 degrees and lays flat on the keyboard, where it faces outwards in traditional Pocket PC mode.
Although it's bigger and heavier than most Pocket PC/phone combos, you do get a reasonably usable keyboard for low-level data entry, while the JASJAR's utility as a communication device is boosted if you use a Bluetooth headset.
The JASJAR supports 3G, but its SIM-free availability means that it's most likely to be used by those looking for the clamshell Pocket PC concept in a GSM/GPRS-capable device. As well as testing with a standard SIM, we used the device with a 3G SIM, and it functioned perfectly straight away -- there was no need for any configuration.
Like the Xda Exec and SPV M5000, the JASJAR has a top-end specification. Windows Mobile 5, 128MB of Flash ROM and 64MB of SDRAM (expandable via SD card) mark this device out as a cutting edge handheld, while both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi (802.11b) -- pretty much a requirement for professional users -- are integrated. Bluetooth is especially significant, as it's much more convenient to make voice calls via a Bluetooth headset than by holding this bulky device to your ear.
The Flash memory is non-volatile, so your data won’t be lost if the removable Li-ion battery fully depletes. However, not all of the 128MB is available to the user. After a hard reset, our JASJAR reported a total of 59.11MB of available ROM. This is less than the SPV M5000, and is a result of i-mate’s bigger complement of pre-installed software.
This inlcudes the ClearVue PDF viewer and a Zip manager, along with Java support -- all of which we have seen in other HTC Universal-based handhelds. However, i-mate adds two further extras: the Skype client for Pocket PC and eTrust’s antivirus software. On connecting to our Skype account via a wireless router, the client was populated with contacts automatically, and it was straightforward to make VoIP calls.
Although the JASJAR and its brethren are aimed at professionals, there's a pair of stereo speakers on the front (in clamshell mode) or right edge (in portrait mode). These are somewhat incongruous, and don’t produce particularly good audio quality. There are two built-in cameras: a 1.3 megapixel unit on the back for stills and video, and another sitting next to the screen for making video calls over a 3G connection.
The screen, a 3.6in. VGA-resolution transflective TFT, is excellent. The JASJAR is the third device of its kind that we've reviewed, and we still find the screen one of the hardware's most impressive features.
For a detailed assessment of this device's performance issues, look at our reviews of the O2 Xda Exec and Orange SPV M5000, as the JASJAR is very similar. We would only add here that the built-in Skype client is potentially very useful, and if you are already a VoIP user it's simple to get up and running. We would also stress that the keyboard is not appropriate for fast or touch typing.
Battery life is quoted as 5-8 hours of GSM talk and 2-4 hours of 3G performance. Our battery rundown test involved the constant play of MP3 music with the screen forced to stay on. We got 5 hours and 15 minutes of music and a total of 5 hours 56 minutes of battery life. That's comparable to the results from Orange's SPV M5000, and acceptable for a Pocket PC handheld.
Like its close relations, i-mate's JASJAR is a very impressive Pocket PC/phone combo, although you shouldn't expect too much from the keyboard. If you want the benefits of the flexible clamshell design but don’t need 3G, it could be a viable option, despite the high cost of purchase.