You may not have come across i-mate before, but the company is associated with a range of devices made by Taiwan-based HTC. For example i-mate’s SP3 is the phone we know better as the Orange SPV C500. The JAM is the first i-mate-branded device to reach the UK that does not also come in a carrier supported form – that is, with software and services dedicated to a specific mobile network operator. Furthermore, i-mate has no plans to make this device available with any such associations in the future. SIM-free, the JAM is expected to cost around £370 (ex. VAT), although one of i-mate's three distribution partners, Expansys, had it available at the time of writing for as little as £140.28 (ex. VAT) with a Vodafone connection.
Our first impressions of the JAM after a brief hands-on experience were extremely positive. Think of your average Pocket PC and then reduce its size by about a third, and you have a general idea of the dimensions – for the record, 5.8cm wide, 10.8cm deep and 1.81cm high. The screen is necessarily small at 2.8in. across the diagonal, but it's much easier to prod at one-handed than larger screens, and in the indoor conditions in which we conducted our test, was clear, bright and sharp. The tri-band GSM/GPRS JAM is powered by 416MHz Intel XScale processor and runs Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition Phone Edition. The 2.8in. screen, which measures 240 by 320 pixels, can be operated in both landscape and portrait orientation. The device incorporates a 1.3 megapixel camera, but although Bluetooth (1.2) is present there's no Wi-Fi. According to Jim Morrison, i-mate's CEO, there simply wasn’t enough room to cram both wireless options into the diminutive hardware. Perhaps there will be a user debate on whether Wi-Fi or a camera is preferable when space is at a premium. You get 64MB of RAM and SDIO-compliant expansion card slot. The lithium-polymer battery is removable. i-mate expects the JAM to appeal to both corporate users and consumers, with the former group able to benefit from i-mate’s ability to customise devices for small numbers of users. For both groups, i-mate will offer a range of free software extras and services via its Web-based Club i-mate service. At first sight, i-mate seems to have come up with a way of bridging the gap between smartphone and handheld. The JAM appears to combine the functionally we’d like to see in a smartphone (such as a relatively large touch-screen, plenty of memory, solid expansion support), with the latest that the Windows Mobile for Pocket PC OS can offer. And we don’t think we’d feel like too idiotic holding this device to the ear to make voice calls. A longer, more thorough, test will show whether we are right.