By February 6, 2007

i-Mate JAQ3 review

I finally got my hands on an i-Mate JAQ3 to review. The JAQ3 is a device that I have been looking forward to getting hold of. Most of the candy-bar with keyboard devices are Smartphones and I have always found the Smartphone OS somewhat frustrating. The reason for wanting the JAQ3 is that the form factor lends itself nicely to one-handed use but where it differs from similar devices is that it’s a Pocket PC Phone Edition device complete with a touchscreen!

i-mate JAQ3

The JAQ3, manufactured by TechFaith Wireless, has a very similar look to the extremely popular BlackJack, it’s just a bit bigger. In fact at 126 x 67.5 x 14.5mm the JAQ3 isn’t a small device. It may be pretty thin but in terms of width and length it’s not much smaller than the HTC Universal. If you compare to the Orange M3100 below you’ll see what I mean!

JAQ3 compared to M3100

Looking at the picture above you might think the JAQ3 is a bit of a beast but once you start using it it really doesn’t seem that big. This probably has a lot to do with how thin the device is but the weight also has a lot to do with it. At 145g on my scales it’s about 20% lighter then the M3100. The balance is pretty even and it sits in the palm of your hand quite nicely.

The JAQ3 is a Windows Mobile 5 Pocket PC Phone Edition device running AKU 3.2 and has just about every feature that you could want from a device. Just one exception – there is no UMTS/3G. Personally I dont think this is a big deal with push email the speed that the data comes down at seems less important and EDGE seems more than fast enough to browse the web. I know 3G is important to some people but I’d question how many people actually make full use of 3G.

For those that need a faster connection method the JAQ3 has 802.11b/g WiFi built in. I don’t use WiFi very much but compared to other devices that I have the performance of the JAQ3 is very good both in terms of speed and range. I can use WiFi all over the house which is something that other devices can’t manage.

Memory expansion on the JAQ3 is via the microSD card slot on the top of the device. The slot has a neat cover to keep the dust out and also stops the microSD card ejecting itself if you drop the device.

JAQ3 microSD

Another plus for me is the standard mini USB socket for sync and charge and the standard 2.5mm Jack Socket the device utilises for headphones. 2.5 to 3.5mm headphone adapters are much more common place than EMU adapters that you need for current HTC devices.

JAQ3 sockets

On the left hand side of the device you’ll find a scroll wheel, an ‘OK’ button and the camera button. I like the fact that a scroll wheel is included as I have become used to this on my HTC TyTN.

JAQ3 Left

The right side of the device has the USB socket, the headphone socket and the power button.

JAQ3 Right

The camera is a 2.0 megapixel unit on the back of the device. The image quality isn’t bad but there is no ‘flash’.

i-mate JAQ3 Camera JAQ3 Sample Image

One of the biggest reasons that I wanted to try a device like the JAQ3 was that I wanted to be able to use the device with one hand. I do like the keyboard on the M3100 but even with big hands it’s almost impossible to use single handed and the one thing I miss most about smartphones is the ability to text or email with one hand. The placement of the keyboard on the JAQ3 gets around this problem as the device fits nicely in that palm of your hand and allows you to use your thumb on the keypad. The keys are reasonably large and well raised, they also have a positive ‘click’ action so that you know when the button has been pressed.

JAQ3 Keyboard

As I mentioned earlier, the i-mate JAQ3 differs from similar devices of this type in that it has a touchscreen and runs Windows Mobile 5.0 for Pocket PC Phone Edition where as devices such as the HTC S620 and the Samsung i320 are Smartphone devices without touchscreen support. I find that working with a PocketPC is much simpler and always found that the Smartphone menus and settings were rather awkward.

The JAQ3 has an excellent screen, it’s sharp and evenly bright and there is no sign of the yellow colour-cast that can be found on some LCD screens. The landscape screen arrangement is a pleasure to use. The touchscreen is accurate and so far I have not experienced any alignment issues.

The stylus is a decent size and is located on the bottom of the device.

i-mate JAQ3 stylus

The joypad is centrally placed below the touchscreen and is pretty easy to use. The action button in the middle seperate which is something that I prefer rather than having to press the whole joypad down. On either side of the joypad you’ll find standard softkeys and the start menu, email, ‘OK’ and Internet Explorer buttons as well as the usual red and green phone keys.

JAQ3 softkeys

Battery life of the device is pretty good. I have been getting a few days use between charges with average use. Battery life is helped by the relatively small screen and lack of 3G. Generally I would say that it’s on a par with most Pocket PC devices out there.

Having used the device for a few weeks I have to say that the biggest drawback is the CPU speed. The 200MHz Texas Instruments OMAP 850 processor feels sluggish and at times can be quite frustrating. Several times I found myself pressing buttons more than once thinking I hadn’t tapped the screen successfully the first time. However this wasn’t a button or touchscreen issue but the processor lag. You do get used to this after a while and I wonder if it’s more noticeable to me as I have been spoilt by 400mhz devices.

In conclusion, the i-mate JAQ3 is a decent device that I enjoy using. I like the ability to use it with just one hand which is something of an advantage over the sliding keyboard devices. It is a rather large device but the fact that it’s thin means that you hardly notice it in your trouser pocket. The processor performance is a bit slow and the lack of 3G may put some people off. That said, I still like it and would recommend that anyone looking for device with a ‘front facing’ keyboard that you can use with one hand should seriously consider the JAQ3!

The JAQ3 is currently on offer at Clove Technology and you can save £20 of the purchase price using our voucher code. Find the full details HERE.

i-Mate JAQ3 Specification:

  • Windows Mobile for PocketPC, AKU3.2
  • 200MHz TI OMAP 850 CPU
  • Quad-band 850/900/1800/1900MHz
  • WiFi 802.11b/g
  • 128mb ROM & 64mb RAM
  • Stereo Bluetooth 1.2
  • MicroSD card slot
  • 2.0 mega pixel camera
  • 2.4″ 320×240 65k LCD Touch Screen
  • 1200mAh battery
  • Size: 126 x 67.5 x 14.5mm
  • 160g with battery
  • 150Hrs standby/4Hrs talk
  • Scroll Wheel
  • Matt

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    Posted in: Reviews

    About the Author:

    More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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