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i-mate Jasjar PocketPC phone

Wireless wonder?

Review HTC has been tempting its fans with the Universal handset since the beginning of the year. The prospect not only of Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GSM/GPRS connectivity but also 3G, and with them a landscape-oriented display and full QWERTY keyboard, not to mention Windows Mobile 5.0, has fuelled interest in the machine since T-Mobile announced in February that it would be offering the machine on its network.

Other carriers quickly followed suit, as did long-time HTC partner i-mate, and it's in the form of the i-mate Jasjar - who comes up with these names? - provided by i-mate's UK retail partner Expansys that I've got my hands on Universal now it's finally shipping. I have to say, it was worth the wait.

i-mate Jasjar

Out of the box, the Jasjar looks like a classic palmtop, circa 1990, albeit spruced up with a 21st Century metallic grey casing and sweeping curves. Inside sit its dark grey, rough-textured QWERTY keyboard and crisp, bright 3.6in, 640 x 480, 65,536-colour display. To the right of the screen is a tiny camera. On the front of the device, below the keyboard, are a pair of compact stereo speakers. Round to the left sit an SD card slot and the power key. On the back of the base is a mini USB port and a stereo earphone jack.

The screen is hinged with sufficient resistance to allow the display to be placed at any angle. It moves smoothly before locking off at an almost horizontal angle. Beyond that, it's spring-loaded, presumably to make it hard to push it too far back. However, I don't think it would take much pressure to break it. The hinge is by no means delicate, and can take some rough handling, but it still needs to be treated with respect.

In part, that's because the hinge incorporates as swivel mechanism, allowing the display to be turned clockwise through 180 degrees. Turn it and push it back against the keyboard and you have a classic PDA-style tablet. It looks slightly odd, because not only is the screen not centred horizontally, but the casing isn't symmetrical in the vertical plane.

The stylus is tucking into bag of the device, flush with the edge of the casing. The display automatically flips into portrait mode but it can take three or four seconds to do so, irritating when you're flipping the device to take a phone call and surprising given the machine's 520MHz Intel XScale processor. Above the screen is the handset's earpiece; below the display is a typical rectangular five-way navigation control. Holding the Jasjar in your right hand, you've got HTC's now customary volume rocker control and a button to activate the screen's backlight sitting below your thumb. On the other side of the machine are small, round call make and break buttons lit with appropriately colour LEDs. Pressing the green one invokes Windows Mobile's Phone application - pressing the red button gets rid of it.

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