i-mate K-Jam Windows Mobile PDA/phone

Treo beater?

The K-Jam's slider system feels much more robust than the Jasjar's flip-and-twist screen pivot, so it's less damage-prone. Again, revealing the keyboard automatically reformats the screen to landscape mode, sometimes quickly, often not. The phone has a 200MHz Texas Instruments OMAP 850 processor.

i-mate K-Jam

While the Jasjar offers 3G and 2.5G mobile phone connectivity, the K-Jam is 2.5G only, offering GPRS with EDGE for faster data, and quad-band (850/900/1800/1900MHz) GSM support for round-the-world usage. That's fine for email, less good for browsing, but there's 802.11b/g wireless for hotspot and home/office WLAN Internet access. I had no trouble connecting to my WPA-protected 802.11g home network. IE isn't the best mobile browser out there, but it works.

Interestingly, i-mate is promising to release soon a ROM update that will add support for the 802.11e quality of service and 802.11i (aka WPA 2) security standards.

The K-Jam has Bluetooth 1.2 on board to host wireless headset connections. There's an ample 64MB of RAM on board, backed by 128MB of Flash for the OS and non-volatile data storage.

The aforementioned Wireless Manager utility is handy for turning Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on and off, particularly the WLAN radio, which is inevitably something of a battery hog. I got more than a couple of days' usage out of a single battery charge, with Bluetooth on and occasional Wi-Fi operation. That's above par for most smart-phones I've used, and certainly better than my less-functional, slower Nokia 6600. i-mate quotes ranges of 3.5-5 hours' talk time and 150-200 hours on standby for the handset's battery performance.

The K-Jam retails for around £450, but the company's UK supplier, Expansys, is also offering it for £18, if you buy it with a £30-a-month Vodafone connection package - the airtime will cost £540 alone, so an outright purchase is better value, particularly if you already have a SIM. The K-Jam is unlocked, so will work with any network's SIM card.

i-mate K-Jam

Verdict

Like the Orange M500, the K-Jam wins on size - it really does feel like you're holding a phone, yet you get a classic PDA user-experience. But the newer model squeezes in Wi-Fi and an email-friendly keyboard, so it's a much better mobile data proposition. Windows Mobile 5.0 is better able to be operated without recourse to the stylus, especially with the keyboard activated, so that's an advantage too.

When I tried the M500, aka the i-mate Jam, I said it was "the best keyboard-free PocketPC phone available". That's still true, but the K-Jam is nonetheless a better device and, for me, the best keyboard-equipped PocketPC phone. ®

 

i-mate K-Jam
 
Rating 95%
 
Pros Compact; keyboard-equipped; Wi-Fi enabled.
 
Cons Expensive; 2.5G not 3G.
 
Price £450 (handset only); £18 (with £30-a-month, 18-month Vodafone airtime package)
 
More info The i-mate K-Jam site
The Expansys K-Jam site