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i-mate JAMA

  • Editors' rating
    6.7 Good

Pros

  • Small and phone-like, easy to carry
  • Ergonomic design
  • Windows Mobile Pocket PC in a smartphone-style form factor

Cons

  • Windows Mobile 5.0 rather than Windows Mobile 6
  • No Wi-Fi
  • No 3G
  • Only dual–band GSM
  • Screen may be too small for some
  • Average battery life

The i-mate JAMA is the latest in a long line of Windows Mobile devices from the Dubai-based company. Like its predecessors, the JAMA is available contract- and SIM-free in the UK and, as such, it will have appeal for sectors of the business community looking for handhelds which are not tied down.

However, those looking for a Windows Mobile device at the cutting edge or wanting to do a lot of international travel might want to think twice about this device.

Design
The JAMA is a small and pocket-friendly handheld. Weighing just 110g, it's on a par with many mobile phones. Its candy-bar format lends it a standard mobile-phone size and shape too: 106mm tall, 52.5mm wide and 15.6mm thick.

The general styling of this device makes it appear like a slider-format mobile phone. The front is dominated by a 2.4in. display delivering Windows Mobile's standard 240-by-320 pixel resolution. Beneath this is a bank of buttons comprising two soft keys, Call and End keys, and, in their centre, a circular navigation pad with a central select key.

You might expect from this layout to be able to slide the upper section and reveal a keypad. But this is not possible, and there is no number pad. In fact, although it looks like a smartphone, the JAMA is a Windows Mobile Pocket PC. As such, there's no need for a hardware-based keypad. The touch-screen provides a dial pad as well as access to the Windows Mobile applications.

In addition to its front-facing buttons, there are a couple of side buttons. On the right edge is a pair of volume controls and a camera-control button. The bottom edge houses a mini-USB connector for mains power and a 2.5mm headphones jack. There is also a reset pin here.

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The JAMA comes with mains power adapter, a USB cable for PC connectivity, a stereo headset, a spare stylus, an application CD, a printed quick-start guide and a printed full manual.

Features
The JAMA runs Windows Mobile 5, rather than the newer Windows Mobile 6. This puts it a little behind the times, and any corporate user wanting to take advantage of the newer features of Windows Mobile 6 may be disappointed. However, it's worth noting that, to get access to the full complement of new features in WM6, Exchange Server 2007 is also required.

With 128MB of ROM and 64MB of RAM, the JAMA has an average complement of memory. After a hard reset, our review sample reported 46MB of free storage space. For extra storage capacity, you can use the microSD card slot on the left edge of the casing.

This device's 300MHz Samsung SC32442X processor seemed to struggle a little at times, but no more or less than we have experienced with other Windows Mobile devices. More significant, perhaps, for many users will be the fact that the JAMA is dual-band and that it lacks Wi-Fi. Bluetooth (1.2) is present.

Wi-Fi is fast becoming a requirement for handhelds. Certainly any organisation considering an IP-based PBX may be looking at handhelds with Wi-Fi to enable ubiquitous voice access to staff across one or more sites. Such organisations will find the JAMA does not meet their requirements in this respect. The dual-band nature of this handset will also not endear it to those organisations whose staff engage in regular international travel.

A 2-megapixel (1,600 by 1,200 pixels) camera is integrated, its lens located on the back of the casing. There is a self-portrait mirror but no flash.

The JAMA benefits from a couple of Windows Mobile Today screen plug-ins designed to help with ease of use. These include one-tap profile switchers that are very useful for putting the phone into silent or loud modes, depending on your situation. You can use an auto setting to control the profile, depending on your schedule. For example, if your diary says you are in a meeting, it can switch to the silent profile.

There is also a screen-orientation switcher. Flipping the relatively small screen into landscape mode makes some activities, such as reading email, a little easier. There is also a set of controls for the Windows Media Player, providing quick access to the library and playlists, and pause/play, forward and back controls.

Performance and battery life
I-mate says the JAMA has a battery life of 4 hours' talk time and lasts for up to 150 hours on standby. Our usual test involves asking a handheld to play music continuously with its screen forced to stay on. The JAMA managed this for 5 hours 52 minutes. This indicates that the JAMA has a fairly average battery life. The low-battery warning system leaves a little to be desired: we got the first warning just 11 minutes before music stopped altogether, and the second and final warning a mere 7 minutes beforehand. In a working situation, we'd have liked more notice before needing to find mains power.

We found the screen a little small for use at times. The touch-sensitive display requires fingertip precision for some selection activities. When trying to tap icons located in corners, such as the Windows Mobile start button, the fact that the display is recessed a little also made precision tapping a little difficult. It's near impossible to tap out text messages without using the stylus. Some Windows Mobile Pocket PCs with larger screens do cater for fingertip-based texting, but not this one. Depending on the amount of text entry you need to do, this may be a deal-breaker.

You may also find that the small size of the screen makes text, such as incoming email, a little difficult to read. This will depend on your eyesight as well, of course.

Conclusion
I-mate has achieved a clever trick with the JAMA in putting Windows Mobile Pocket PC into a device which looks more like a traditional phone than a handheld. The device is more mid-range than leading-edge though, and businesses looking for the very latest that Windows Mobile devices can offer may wish to avoid it. However, there's nothing intrinsically wrong with the JAMA itself, which performed well during testing.

 

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