THE I-MATE JAQ ATTEMPTS TO DISTINGUISH ITSELF in this increasingly crowded field of consumer oriented, unlocked smart devices-and completely fails. It's not often you find a smartphone that makes a Treo look svelte, but the i-mate JAQ manages it. The JAQ is large enough to be difficult to hold with your hand. When viewed straight on, it's a dead ringer for a misshapen Nokia E62. The JAQ:s round keys and softer lines contrast with the E62's straight cuts and knife-edged profile, but both of them have almost the exact same, largish length and width. Turn the JAQon its side, though, and the comparison breaks down. The JAQhas a lopsided profile, and it's considerably thicker than the E62, particularly around the keyboard and battery on the bottom half of the unit.
JAQ is no lightweight, either, though at 5.6 ounces, it still weighs a hair less than a 700-series Treo. Amazingly, despite its size, the JAQ also lacks a camera. Even with a roomier keyboard than a Treo, it's still more difficult to type on the JAQbecause of the stiff, raised keys that produce noisy clicks as you press them. In fact, keystrokes are so loud, you won't be able to sneak in any typing without other people in the room noticing immediately. At least the keyboard is backlit.Inexplicably, the period key is to the left of the space bar; that tripped me up constantly.
The JAQ:s sizable, 2.8-inch touch screen is useful for document editing as well as other applications such as Pocket Streets 2005.
Despite its Motorola-Q-style design, it's a true Pocket PC; this means you get a touch screen, a stylus, and a better suite of applications built into the device.
Even though it's a globe-trotting, quad-band world phone, the i-mate JAQ was a mixed bag in terms of voice quality. On the one hand, the built-in mic is exceptionally sensitive. I could talk into the JAQfrom more than 1 foot away, yet there was absolutely no change in voice quality on the other end. There was plenty of earpiece volume for both indoor and outdoor use. Too much, in fact; the two lowest volume settings are the only ones usable indoors, and the difference between them is too coarse.
On the other hand, sound quality through the earpiece was awful, the worst I've heard in recent memory. When you get it spot on, voices come through exceedingly tinny and harsh. In addition, you have to position the phone just so in order to hear the other party; otherwise you can barely hear them at all, even with the JAQ:s excessive volume capabilities. Plan on using a wired or wireless headset with the JAQ; you'll be much hap¬pier. Don't bother with the speakerphone, either. It's a joke, with a tinny timbre and virtually no usable amplification for use outdoors.
For consumers looking for a do-it-all smartphone, there are numerous other devices with better sound quality and performance, not to mention smaller and slimmer designs.