The i-mate JAM was a success from the get-go,
it combined a small form factor Pocket PC with a phone feature
set. i-mate have now added a 'K'eyboard to the JAM to make the "K-JAM" and
what a jolly good move it was, but did the K-JAM really commit
fratricide or has the JASJAR merely come away with a bloodied nose?
The HTC Wizard (the code name for the K-JAM and other devices that use the Wizard design) wasn't picked up by U.S. carriers until Feb. 2006 when both T-Mobile (MDA) and Cingular (8125) released their versions. The K-JAM, for those of you who prefer unlocked phones and i-mate branded devices, is available from specialist
suppliers like MadMonkeyBoy who
supplied our review unit.
Design and Ergonomics
The new K-JAM weighs in at 168g,
slightly more than advertised 160g but close enough. It's built
by HTC and shares the same basic components as the QTEK 9100. It
feels solid and chunky and in a space of 108 x 58 x 24mm that's
a fair weight. It is however a fair amount of hardware too as it
now sports 802.11b Wi-Fi, Quad-band GSM with EDGE ability in addition
to the JAM's Bluetooth radio. Oh, and don't forget that keyboard.
What the K-JAM doesn't have, you don't need as it's now all here
in one box.
It's a pretty stylish box in Silver front and back with a black
band running around the center. It's a slightly more curvy shape
than the JAM too so it sits in the pocket well and hides some of
that weight by spreading out the load.
The front panel sports buttons for call pick-up and
clear, a five way button pad, two action buttons for mail and Internet
and a pair of soft-key buttons under the screen. On the side are buttons
for Camera, Record, Speak, Volume and Power on top. On the bottom there
is a mini-USB socket, a 2.5mm headset and battery cover release. On the
back is the camera lens with flash and a useful rubber foot that prevents
the lens and back from being scratched when the unit is placed on a flat
surface. The back foot isn't flat though so you can't place the unit
on a table and type on the keyboard.
The front of the K-JAM also includes speaker and microphone,
the speaker housing two LED's that indicate Bluetooth radio function,
GPRS and charging.
The party trick for the K-JAM is the sliding shell;
the screen slides right to reveal a very spacious 37 key keyboard. The
keys on the keyboard are silver with a black background, this contrasts
with the QTEK 9100 version that features a dark grey background, the
result is better contrast. The keys are relatively flat, that's a feature
of having a sliding keyboard, make the keys too domed and the overall
width of the unit will be increased. As they are, the keys are a good
compromise, your thumbs fall naturally to the center of the keyboard
though the width of the keyboard does mean quite a stretch left to right,
but not too bad. The backlight of the keyboard is blue, the lighting
is not very even but better than nothing. The backlighting can be controlled,
switched between always on when a button is pressed, or only on when
in low light. The keyboard includes all the characters you would expect
including dedicated keys for the windows start menu and OK button plus
cursor direction keys. On top of the keyboard layout there are two additional
soft-key buttons that operate the menu on screen. In operation one notable
issue is that the screen is slightly offset from the keyboard, not a
big thing just a little distracting. Another neat trick with the sliding
keyboard is that the screen switches to landscape mode as the keyboard
is opened, nice. The cost of the keyboard to the overall ergonomics is
only slight; the width of the unit has increased a little as has the
The K-JAM features a 320 x 240 resolution display,
the screen is bright and clear and at only 2.8" diameter the pixel
density is very high, so high that clear-type does not make a great
deal of difference. One interesting thing to note is that the QTEK
9100 offers clear-type but the K-JAM has the clear-type function disabled,
it's visible on the screen setting but is grayed out, perhaps a feature
we'll have in a later ROM release. We compared the screen of the K-JAM
to the QTEK, some observers have noted a difference in quality, we
were unable to tell any difference in low light, high light, inside
and outside, I suspect that the origins of both being the HTC Wizard
that they are in fact identical.
One last improvement that appears in the K-JAM
is the battery compartment, the previous model was a little flimsy
but the new model incorporates a recessed 1250 mAh battery which is
Phone Features and Reception
In line with other models from i-mate, the K-JAM has been given Quad-band
GSM radio with EDGE support. The previous model featured Bluetooth technology
for communication but now we have 802.11b Wi-Fi as well. To manage this
plethora of radio choices i-mate have included a simple control panel
with basic buttons to turn on and off each function, very useful.
Browsing the Internet on the K-JAM is a pleasant experience, the size
and resolution of the screen and the performance of the radio in both
Wi-Fi and EDGE worked well.
The EDGE data feature gives a steady 100+ Kbps
data transfer on the T-Mobile network that I'm testing on so that's
GSM "2.5G" working
The Wifi solution is intended to permit dynamic switching for data between
Wi-Fi, EDGE and regular GPRS as conditions change. T-Mobile Hotspot,
Panera free Wi-Fi, Home. The integrated 'Comm Manger' software allows
switch on and off of the various radios and can call for an 'Active Sync'
from the same app; useful if you're hitting a Wi-Fi hotspot and want
to activate Wi-Fi, sync and go. The communications manager has a dedicated
function key so that the software can be activated quickly. Typically
web browsing is best when using the Wi-Fi connection, the EDGE connection
is good but noticeably slower however, coverage is of course far greater
The quality of phone calls is very good; the audio electronics have
clearly been optimized. The volume from the internal speaker is modest,
not loud. The performance of the speaker phone is commendable.
Placing calls is quick; press the green call
button to activate the phone app, type in the number of use T9 dialing
to pick an entry from the phone book. For those who've not used T9
dialing; it is the fastest way to find an entry in the contacts and
it scales well, I can easily find a contact in 1000 contacts hitting
three letters; for example to find the number for the Office; you'd
press the buttons 633 - look at your keypad to see why! You might also
get a partial match on 'Neelam Indian Restaurant" because the
letters match but you simply hit the entry your looking for. In fact,
in the Office example the 6 alone is enough to see 'Office' second
in the list.
When paired with a Bluetooth headset the performance of the phone is
very good, great clarity and good volume. One of the most interesting
ways to use this phone is with the Bluetooth headset, that way you can
maintain a call and take notes using the built-in notes application launched
from the menu whilst the call is in progress. If you do this religiously,
you'll never need a pen and paper to take notes again and you'll always
have records of each conversation that you had.
Horsepower and Performance
The CPU is a 195 Mhz Texas Instruments OMAP 850.
It's Intel XScale / ARM compatible and reasonable in operation
despite the unusually low clock speed.
The K-JAM runs Windows Mobile 5, this is based upon Windows CE
5 and calls for a different memory model than before. If you've
just figured out how Pocket PC and SmartPhone do that whole RAM/ROM
overlay thing… un-learn it; in Windows Mobile 5 you have ROM
(think hard disk) for programs and RAM (think, er, RAM) for programs
to run in; just like a PC. Programs and data sit on the hard drive
(ROM) ( in \Program files\) and get loaded into RAM when they run.
The result is that application startup takes a little longer than
before but the more efficient processor levels that out, once running
the apps are reasonably snappy in action.
The K-JAM is a pocket PC phone edition device, what that means
is that it is trying to balance the roles of being a pocket PC
and a phone, the balance is even, it is not biased to work better
at either, the only downside of this is that when you need a phone,
it is sometimes busy being a media player and that can be a little
frustrating. One of the best ways to use the device is with a Bluetooth
headset, in this mode you can watch the screen while listening
to what's going on in the phone, this allows you to judge the performance
of the unit and give it time to complete background tasks before
requesting the next task.
One thing to be aware of, the K-JAM is a first generation Windows
Mobile 5 device, it's good but you'd better be ready for a software
upgrade, some of the features still need a little work, some of
the features still crash a little. I had a couple of instances
where I repeatedly hit a key during a call to end the call that
resulted in the failure of the phone application. Each time this
happened, the K-JAM reported back to Microsoft, I wonder if they
got my message?
For more information on Windows Mobile 5 on the
Pocket PC, see the MobileTechReview editorial here.
Results, comparing Windows Mobile 5 PPC Phones
Directory list of 2000 files (thousands
Internal database read (records/sec)
Graphics test: DDB BitBlt (frames/sec)
Graphics test: DIB BitBlt (frames/sec)
Graphics test: GAPI BitBlt (frames/sec)
Pocket Word document open (KB/sec)
Pocket Internet Explorer HTML load (KB/sec)
Pocket Internet Explorer JPEG load (KB/sec)
File Explorer large folder list (files/sec)
Compress 1 MB file using ZIP (KB/sec)
Decompress 1024x768 JPEG file (KB/sec)
Arkaball frames per second (frames/sec)
CPU test: Whetstones MFLOPS (Mop/sec)
CPU test: Whetstones MOPS (Mop/sec)
CPU test: Whetstones MWIPS (Mop/sec)
test: copy 1 MB using memcpy (MB/sec)
The K-JAM comes with a generous 128MB of flash
ROM; double the JAM's. It
also includes 64MB of memory, that's normal memory as you might
find in a PC. With this much flash ROM, applications can easily
be installed internally leaving the memory expansion card for data,
music and videos.
One penalty of trying to cram so much expansion
and radio technology into such a small space is that everything
gets downsized and the expansion is no exception. The new model
features a mini SD slot in the top, this is OK as 1GB cards are
readily available and reasonably priced however, if you have a
stockpile of 2GB SD cards, you're in trouble. Beyond memory there
is a Bluetooth radio that permits the expansion through additional
human interface devices, keyboards and mice to you and I. I had
no problem at all pairing the K-JAM with a Bluetooth keyboard,
it worked perfectly first time. The design of the K-JAM does mean
that it won't sit flat on the desktop so with my keyboard connected
I had to prop the unit against a book to angle the screen. No big
deal. Oddly the Mouse could be paired and worked but with no mouse
Display, Gaming and Multimedia
The 2.7" display at
320 x 240 resolution (landscape) is both bright and detailed,
the contrast ratio is high yet the power consumption from the
LED backlight is low, this machine screams portable media player!
The screen is bright the storage is good and the CPU is fast
enough. Video playback using windows media video or betaplayer
works well. Using Windows Media Player 10, I was able to synchronize
content from my Windows Media Center PC to the K-JAM. There was
a good sense of end to end connectivity, but that's what to expect
from a Microsoft solution.
Games run well though it does not appear to have
a dedicated graphics processor, they always use too much battery
power anyway! The display and the new joystick lend the unit to
a bit of gaming; not a strong point for me, my favorite games are
e-mail calendar and contacts!
Music playback was good, the supplied headphones are of typical
supplied headphone quality, fairly poor but do include a microphone
in the line so in the absence of a good Bluetooth headset you can
still use the K-JAM in your car with safety. Plugging into a good
set of headphones the quality was great, plenty of depth, good
bass and a modest treble. The audio quality was easily the equal
of an Apple Video iPod.
One feature of owning an i-mate product is the
included access to Club i-mate at www.clubimate.com. It's an exclusive
club with full access only granted to those with the right IMEI
number - the globally unique serial number of the phone. On Club
i-mate you can find exclusive downloads and some mobile optimized
video content that's quite fun to watch - members pay less.
The K-JAM is equipped with a 1.3M pixel camera
with flash and self-portrait mirror. The native resolution is 1280
x 1024, quality is on a par with other phone cameras; good for
party snaps. The flash on this model is more powerful than some
that I've seen before but is still no substitute for a genuine
photo flash. Outdoor photos where satisfyingly good, devoid of
speckles that I've seen on other phones.
One drawback of purchasing an unlocked phone
that has not been customized by the carrier is that settings such
as MMS must be entered manually; these can often be found on many
of the bulletin boards and forums. Once set up photos can be quickly
snapped and sent out. You can of course easily copy photos taken
with the camera to your PC using ActiveSync or a card reader if
storing photos on a card rather than internal memory.
Video recordings is also up to par for this kind of device, recording
in H.263 format at a few frames per second. This is typical of
all the pocket PC devices that I've used, I'm not sure why it is
provided, it seems redundant but maybe my standards are too high.
A shot of the box, with flash on, indoors.
Bluetooth support on the K-JAM is much improved
over the previous model; Microsoft having improved Bluetooth
in Windows Mobile 5. I was able to pair with a number of headsets
from Motorola, Bluespoon, Logitech and my Mini Cooper. In all cases
calls were handled correctly and audio quality was at the best
each device could support. The Bluetooth support also extends to
OBEX transfer and support for human interface devices. I was very
pleased when I was able to quickly pair my Bluetooth keyboard with
the K-JAM and start typing straightaway. Access to external keyboards
takes the K-JAM to the next level of usability; I was able to type
on a full sized keyboard at full speed.
The Bluetooth radio electronics did not appear to impact battery
life; it's hard to tell as the functionality is so useful you would
be unlikely to switch it off. I would consider the runtime of the
unit to be measured with the Bluetooth radio turned on.
The K-JAM supports 802.11b, Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi is switched on and
off from the included communications manager, which in turn is
activated by a dedicated button on the K-JAM. Performance on Wi-Fi
was very satisfying; security was good supporting WEP, WPA and
LEAP standards. The interface on the Wi-Fi side is fairly basic,
but functional. There are no elaborate utilities for performing
a site survey. I was easily able to add home and office Wi-Fi settings
and was able to reliably connect, and stay connected which is what
Compared to Bluetooth Wi-Fi requires much more power, to that
end the Wi-Fi controls in the communications manager allow more
detailed settings for Wi-Fi power management. However, if you are
driving in your car and passing Wi-Fi network after Wi-Fi network
the radio never switches off and instead use is all the power it
can muster to attach to any network it can, the result is a big
battery drain. Given that the GPRS edge network is more than suitable
for e-mail I would recommend leaving the Wi-Fi radio switched off
unless absolutely needed.
The removable battery is the same size
as the previous JAM, battery life is predicted to be between
3.5 and 5 hours of talk time
with a standby time of between 150 and 200 hours. These figures
are approximate, there are so many options and variables such as
which radios are switched on whether the user is browsing the Internet
and hence using the backlight whether it is a single call, many
calls or whether the unit is moving through cellular towers that
predictions on battery life really have to be made in the context
of daily use, basically, will I need to charge it in the middle
of the day or will it do what I need throughout the day? The brought
answer to that is yes, in a typical usage scenario where we'll
see perhaps an hour of calls in and out, an hour of travel, perhaps
30 minutes of web browsing and a day's worth of email sync. over
GPRS the K-JAM ends the day with at least 25% of its battery intact,
reduce the use of Wi-Fi and more than 50% is left.
If you find that you really must use Wi-Fi heavily
the options to charge are quite broad; you can charge from your
PC using the supplied USB cable and you can obtain a car charger
at a modest price or you can exchange the battery without losing
If it all goes horribly wrong and you do allow
the battery to discharge completely, Windows Mobile 5 uses a memory
model called persistent storage that keeps important data in the
flash ROM so you won't have to rebuild your machine!
Windows Mobile 5 ships with an enhanced range of software featuring
improved versions of the existing application plus some extras.
The 'Office' suite comprises Mobile Word and Mobile Excel that
have been enhanced a little, Mobile PowerPoint viewer which is
new and Mobile Messenger which is Outlook. There are some basic
Being Windows Mobile there is already a plethora of tools, games
and utilities but watch for applications designed for Windows Mobile
5 to ensure 100% compatibility.
The K-JAM ships with Skype for Pocket PC, a VoIP
phone and IM client and it works over Wi-Fi, less so over EDGE
The K-JAM fits in the i-mate line-up between
the full-sized PDA JASJAR and the Phone oriented SP5m.
But is it an equal balance up to the JASJAR and down to the SP5?
I don't think so. Compared to the JASJAR the K-JAM gives way on
screen resolution; the JASJAR has a VGA 640 x 480 screen, the K-JAM
a 320 x 240 QVGA but don't think for one minute that makes much
practical difference; the fonts on the JASJAR a bigger and you
do not get four times the data on-screen; I don't think that you
get double. But what does the JASJAR give away to the K-JAM in
a US environment devoid of the UMTS 3G network? Quite a lot then;
the K-JAM has a forth radio band, EDGE and is a fraction
of the weight and size; all of the right things that a typical
email maven needs; a good keyboard and small enough size to really
carry in your pocket. I think that the K-JAM hits the sweet spot;
the size is right. I think the JASJAR over-cooks it a little, that
said I have one myself and will report on that experience after
I've really worked with it long enough to find its niche.
At a current street price of USD$700 the K-JAM isn't cheap but
you get pretty much everything you could need in a pocket communicator;
Phone, keyboard entry, software, expansion and connectivity. Alternatively, if you're looking for the same device at a subsidized price in the US, check out the T-Mobile MDA and the Cingular 8125. And if CDMA along with 3G are your thing, consider the Sprint PPC-6700 and Verizon XV6700.
Price: Approx. $700 unlocked for use with any
with EDGE and GPRS for data. Quad band world phone:
Size:108 x 58 x 23.7
mm, 160g ( 4.25
x 2.28 x 0.94 inches. Weight: 5.64 ounces).
Camera: 1.3 MP CMOS Camera with LED flash that can
take still photos and video with audio.
in speaker, mic and stereo headphone
jack. Voice Recorder and Windows Media Player
10 Mobile included for your MP3 and video playback
WiFi 802.11b and Bluetooth
Mobile 5.0 Pocket PC Phone Edition operating system.
Microsoft Mobile Office suite including Mobile versions
of Word, Excel, PowerPoint (view only), Internet
Explorer, and Outlook. Also, Terminal Services, MSN
Instant Messenger for Pocket PC, Windows Media Player
10, Solitaire, Bubble Breaker (game), Voice Recorder,
Photo Caller ID as well as handwriting recognition.
ActiveSync 4.0 and Outlook 2002 for PCs included.