i-mate’s new JAQ Pocket PC phone is less a phone than a dedicated email system running on Windows Mobile 5.
The JAQ, unlike most of i-mate’s older devices, comes from a company called Inventec Appliance, instead of High Tech Computer of Taiwan. HTC is now selling under its own brand, and resellers like i-mate are sourcing their devices elsewhere. The JAQ is also sold under the Inventec brand as the Mercury.
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The JAQ doesn’t make a stellar first impression, with a chunky build and an odd visual style that seems to unbalance the device.
It’s also much thicker around the keyboard than at the top, by a couple tenths of an inch. That doesn’t sound like much, but it’s distinctly noticeable, making the device a bit bottom heavy.
The specs aren’t much better, with a basic quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE cellular radio, 64 MB of RAM, 128 MB of flash memory (48 MB available to the user), a 2.8 inch QVGA screen, and a miniSD slot. It has Bluetooth, but not Wi-Fi.
Despite a seemingly marginal design, the JAQ does surprisingly well in the keyboard department. The keys are well built, and easily pressed. Even someone like myself who doesn’t interact with thumb keyboards much can easily pick it up and crank out text rather speedily. The only other thumb keyboards I’ve found as useful and easy to learn as this were those on the HTC Wizard/Apache slider models.
My feel for the battery life in the couple days I’ve had the device has been limited, but it does harbor a larger than average 1440 mAh battery, so barring really bad engineering it should have considerable staying power. In comparison, most other Pocket PC phones have 1100 to 1250 mAh batteries.
On a side note, the JAQ lacks a camera, a fact which may singlehandedly score it not inconsiderable sales among frustrated business and government users whose organizations rules on such things prevent them from carrying any of the Treos or the Motorola Q.
i-mate represents the device as a “heavy duty” messaging solution, complete with push email from Exchange 2003 SP2 servers. Looking over their product page, I don’t see a single mention outside the spec sheet of the fact that the JAQ is also capable of voice. This thing is a email device first and foremost, the inelegance of the old-style Blackberries mated to the Exchange push of modern Windows devices.