i-mate Jasjar PocketPC phone

Wireless wonder?

i-mate JasjarBelow the backlight button sits the machine's infra-red lens, then a key to activate the voice dialler and another to run HTC's own Camera application. The Jasjar's main camera is mounted on what is now the back of the device - it's the base when it's in palmtop mode. It's a 1.3 megapixel job with an LED illuminator for dark lighting conditions.

Here's the first glitch: the Camera app expects the screen to be in landscape mode. That's fine if you hold the device as you would a digital camera, but not if, like most folk, hold it upright as you would a phone. The image quality isn't bad, but it's not about to replace your digital camera. The app's on-screen controls allow you to flip between the main camera and the front-facing one, included for video calls.

Video calling is, of course, a key feature of 3G mobile phone networks, which the Jasjar supports. That said, I tested the device with my regular O2 SIM card. i-mate's offerings are sold unlocked so they can be used on any network. Other versions of the Universal, such as O2'S XDA Exec and Orange's M5000, are network specific, so I'll be focusing on the device's 3G support when I look at those machines. With the Jasjar, which is likely to be used with the buyer's existing SIM, most likely a 2.5G card, I restricted my review to its GSM/GPRS capability.

Which is good, by the way. I tried the Jasjar in a number of urban locations and had no trouble making GPRS connections for email checks and web access. GSM call quality was excellent too.

These aren't the only wireless technologies the Jasjar hosts - to the telephony networks you can add Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Bluetooth is essential for a device like this which is a little big to hold up to your ear. Windows Mobile 5.0's Bluetooth support is much improved over previous versions of the OS, allowing me to answer incoming calls using the button on my Motorola HS850 headset. Pushing the button invokes, after a second or two, the new OS' Voice Speed Dial app, so you can call select contacts without having to open the device up first. At last, you can make phone calls without first having to take your PDA out of your bag.

Wi-Fi works better than before too. With the Jasjar I had no trouble connecting either to the office's WEP-protected WLAN, or the WPA-enabled network I have at home. Wi-Fi performance was good, and makes web browsing and instant messaging on a handheld a real joy. The only flaw isn't HTC or i-mate's fault: it's Internet Explorer, which simply isn't a patch on the likes of Palm's Blazer browser at reformatting websites for the host device's display.

Incidentally, i-mate bundles the PocketPC version of Skype with the Jasjar, but I was unable to get it to work. I even re-downloaded it from Skype's own site, but with no joy. Some folk have claimed there's no incompatibility between the two, but there are plenty of reports from Jasjar owners suggesting there is an issue here.

All the wireless modes can be activated or deactivated separately using the Jasjar's Wireless Manager app, which also links through to each technology's control panel in Windows Mobile 5.0's Settings section. Wireless Manager appears as an icon at the bottom right of the Today screen, between the new battery icon and a tool to rotate the display orientation manually.

Below them is a bar containing two mobile phone-like soft menus, each activated by a key on the keyboards. Either side of those keys are extra call make and break buttons, and between them are keys to activate the Contacts and the video call apps, respectively. The keyboard also boasts a Windows key to activate the Start menu; keys to call up Messaging and Internet Explorer; an OK button to dismiss dialog boxes and windows; plus all the usual alphanumeric and symbol keys - including £ and € - you'd expect.

Next page: Verdict