i-mate JAQ4

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Pros

  • Large Qwerty keyboard
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and infra-red
  • GPS antenna
  • Windows Mobile 6

Cons

  • Poor battery life
  • Sizeable for the pocket

The i-mate JAQ range of Windows Mobile handhelds comprises three devices: the original JAQ, the JAQ3 and the JAQ4. We won't ask what happened to the JAQ2, but the range does not include a product with that name.

All three devices in the JAQ range share a somewhat chunky hardware design and a Qwerty keyboard. The JAQ4 is unique among them, in that it runs Windows Mobile 6.

The JAQ4 is available SIM-free from Expansys. Even for a SIM-free device it's expensive, although you might expect to pay a premium for a Windows Mobile 6 device, which is still something of a rarity.

Design
As already noted, the all-black JAQ4 is a large handheld. It weighs 184g, and is very noticeable in the pocket. In fact, it might be difficult to find a pocket it'll fit. It is 125mm tall and 71mm wide. At least its 15.5mm of thickness is not out of kilter with other handhelds.

The JAQ4's size means there is room for a very large Qwerty keyboard. Individual keys are 5mm wide and 7mm tall, and well spaced. They are therefore easy to hit successfully. For those who find the small Qwerty keyboards on some handhelds a challenge, this will seem like a godsend.

Unfortunately the screen has not been enhanced from the norm in a similar way. It is a standard 320 x 240 pixel display, capable of 65,000 colours and measuring 2.8 inches corner to corner. It is configured in wide format, which makes viewing web pages and reading some text a rather more pleasing experience than tall-format screens deliver. However, it can't be flipped into "portrait" format.

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Between screen and keyboard is a bank of shortcut buttons. Like the Qwerty keys, these are relatively large. At the outer left and right are Call and End buttons, inside them Start Menu and OK buttons.

In the centre of this bank is a mini joystick for vertical and horizontal movement. A pair of softkeys is also here. The screen is touch sensitive so it can be tapped as required. If you don't want to use a fingertip for this purpose there is a stylus in a housing on the top right corner of the casing. This is extremely light, but it is 105mm long and so relatively comfortable to use.

For those wishing to use the JAQ4 one-handed, a small array of buttons sits on the left edge of the casing. One provides access to the wireless manager. There is also a back button which, on a long press, allows you to make voice notes. Another button is a controller for the built-in camera. By comparison to the other buttons on this handheld, this trio is incredibly small and fingernails are required to use them comfortably. Towards the top of this edge is a scroll wheel with a press-to-select feature.

On the top edge is an infra-red port, the right edge is clear, and the bottom edge contains the mini USB mains power / PC connect socket, and a 2.5mm headphones connector.

Features
The JAQ4 is the first handheld we have seen to run Windows Mobile 6. To the untrained eye this is very similar to Windows Mobile 5.0, and users of the older operating system should have no difficulty mastering the new one. There are, however, many changes, and rather than rehearse them here we suggest you read our review of Windows Mobile 6.

A 200MHz Texas Instruments OMAP 850 processor provides the raw power for this handheld, which has 128MB of ROM and 64MB of RAM. After a hard reset our review sample reported just 26MB of free storage space. More memory can be added via miniSD cards, and the slot is extremely accessible — it is located on the upper left side of the casing by the scroll wheel.

The JAQ4 is a quad-band GSM phone with GPRS and EDGE. Bluetooth, Wi-Fi (802.11b/g) and infra-red are all built in. A GPS antenna is also built in, which means the JAQ4 can be used as a mobile navigation device if software is added to it.

In the back of the casing is the lens for the 2.0 megapixel camera. There is a self-portrait mirror but no flash. The camera has a macro mode which you invoke by pressing the mini joystick beneath the screen to the left. Pushing this up and down allow you to use the digital zoom, while pushing it right switches between preset modes for different lighting conditions. Further touch icons on the right of the screen allow quick access to some other settings such as the self-timer and brightness. The full range of settings is easily accessed via a softmenu button.

I-mate adds some software to the Windows Mobile standards. Blacklist allows you to reject calls from certain predefined numbers. The ClearVue PDF reader is present, there is a photo contacts manager, and there is a utility for formatting flash memory cards. I-mate also augments the standard Windows Mobile Solitaire and Bubble Breaker with a couple of games of its own — BlackJack, Pool and JamJammy (a version of "find the lady"). The BlackJack and Pool games can be played solo or against other devices.

Performance and battery life
The battery life of the JAQ4 was something of a let down. We asked it to play music continuously, with the screen forced on, GSM turned on but all other wireless turned off. We got five-and-a-half hours of music, which seems remarkably low.

Overall, though, the JAQ4 performed well enough. It is not the ideal handheld for everyone, and there is no doubt that its size will put many potential users off. If, however, you need a Qwerty keyboard and find many are too small to get to grips with, then it may be worth evaluating this device.

Specifications

Details
Integrated Components Rear-facing camera, voice recorder, navigation
Cellular
Technology GSM
Application Software ActiveSync, Calculator, SIM Manager, Tasks, Voice Notes, Windows Media Player 10 Mobile, Calendar, ClearVue PDF, Contacts, File Explorer, Games, Messaging, Microsoft Office Outlook Mobile, Mobile Video Picture Viewer
Phone Navigation Buttons navigation button, scroll button
Type smartphone
Integrated Components navigation, rear-facing camera, voice recorder
Band GSM 850/900/1800/1900 (Quadband)
Phone Form Factor full keyboard
Form Factor Details touch screen
Service Provider not specified
Operating System Family Windows Mobile
Operating System Microsoft Windows Mobile 6
Input Device Touch screen, keyboard
Phone Features
Short Messaging Service (SMS) Yes
Voice Dialing Yes
Phone Functions Voice dialing, vibrating alert
Messaging & Internet
Cellular Messaging Services MMS, SMS
Messaging & Data Features Text messages, Multimedia messages (MMS)
Messaging Services MMS, SMS, Windows Live Messenger (MSN Messenger)
Communications
Communication Features Internet browser, mobile Email client
Data Transmission EDGE, GPRS
Wireless Interface Bluetooth, IEEE 802.11b/g, Infrared (IrDA)
Processor
Clock Speed 200 MHz
Manufacturer Texas Instruments
Display
Technology TFT
Color Depth 16-bit (65000 colors)
Diagonal Size 2.8 in
Diagonal Size (metric) 7.1 cm
Smartphone Diagonal Size 2.8 in
Camera
Focus Adjustment automatic
Features video recording
Media Player
Supported Digital Audio Standards WAV, WMA, AMR, MP3, MIDI
Memory
RAM 64 MB - SDRAM
Supported Flash Memory Cards miniSD
Battery
Talk Time Up to 300 min
Run Time Details Talk: up to 300 min
Standby: up to 200 hrs
Digital Camera
Digital Video Formats MPEG-4, WMV
Focus Adjustment automatic
Features video recording
Header
Brand i-Mate
Product Line i-Mate
Model JAQ4
Packaged Quantity 1
CE Input Device
Type keyboard, touch sensitive screen
Features
Phone Functions vibrating alert, voice dialing
Additional Features MiniSD card slot, GPRS support, Touch screen
Digital Player (Recorder)
Supported Digital Audio Standards AMR, MIDI, MP3, WAV, WMA
Power Adapter
Type power adapter
RAM
Installed Size 64 MB
Technology SDRAM
Flash Memory
Supported Flash Memory Cards miniSD
Optical Sensor
Sensor Resolution 2 megapixels

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