i-mate Jasjar review

£525
Price when reviewed

Styled like a Tablet PC, the Jasjar is huge in PDA terms. But in return you get a VGA screen and a useful keyboard, making it ideal for serious productivity on the move.

i-mate Jasjar review

It opens up like a laptop, and crams 640 x 480 pixels into the 3.6in landscape display. With fine dots, and more of them forming each character, nothing can match it for text smoothness.

When closed, the screen is protected, and it can twist through 180 degrees to fold backwards over the keyboard. The image flips to portrait and you use the stylus for input, although in this mode it’s a big, chunky PDA and an even bigger phone.

In laptop mode, you can finger-type on a desk or hold it and tap with your thumbs and crack along at a fair pace. The layout is thankfully closer to a standard keyboard than most PDAs.

You won’t run the risk of losing all your hard work if the battery runs out. That’s because it runs Windows Mobile 5, storing data and user-installed programs in flash ROM. This isn’t as fast as RAM, and the Jasjar doesn’t feel quite as zippy as you’d expect, but with a 520MHz PXA270 processor it’s never sluggish.

File compatibility benefits from the new PowerPoint Mobile, although it’s for viewing only. Word Mobile and particularly Excel Mobile use the big display to great effect, although worryingly Word didn’t open all of the documents we tried. PDFs are handled by ClearVue PDF.

No other PDA in this group has 3G support or a second camera for video calls. These make it comparatively expensive, but T-Mobile’s version (called the MDA Pro) starts at £150 on contract. Wi-Fi is a handy inclusion to give you a faster data link at hotspots.

In spite of the Jasjar’s size, there’s only the customary SDIO/MMC slot, and button placement can be frustrating. There isn’t a hardware Calendar button, and it’s too easy to accidentally trigger buttons on the side.

Awkward handling is a weak point of the Jasjar, but you can’t compare it directly to the smallest, lightest devices here – they’re for completely different buyers. If your work pattern revolves around productivity applications more than PIM and phone use, it’s well worth considering. For some, it may even be an alternative to taking a laptop.

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