Last January I had a long layover in the Singapore airport and bought an O2 XDA II Pocket PC Phone. It is a fantastic device: a full Pocket PC with a 400 Mhz processor and 128MB of RAM. It also includes Bluetooth and a full tri-band cellular phone. It was the final straw that allowed me to carry a single device for everything. No more did I have issues keeping my phone in sync with my contact list at work. No more did I have to carry two devices with me.
Carrying one device all the time made me feel less like a geek. Until I had to whip it out and make a phone call, that is. The XDA II is fairly petite as Pocket PCs go, but when you place it to your ear it looks like you are talking into a pocket calculator.
Danna to the Rescue
It was Danna who came to my rescue. After buying the XDA II I stopped keeping up with all that was going on in Pocket PC land. I would never go back to a non-phone device and was perfectly happy with the XDA II. Danna, however, was not having a happy Pocket PC experience. She tends to get my hand-me-downs, and then is perhaps a little hard on them as she throws them in her purse. Luckily, the speed with which I have generally upgraded Pocket PC devices has outpaced her ability to destroy them, so she hasn't had many issues. Her current device, a Toshiba e740, was having a lot of trouble, however. After watching me live in my single device bliss for a few months she decided she may need to try out a Pocket PC phone for herself. But, I was out of the loop and needed to do a bit of research.
Pocket PC Phones
My first indication that I was a it out of date was a Mobile Planet catalog that came in the mail. Here were two Pocket PC phone devices I had never even heard of before! Obviously I was horribly out of date if US Carriers are offering phones I didn't know about. While researching on the web for the O2 XDA III (Danna's preferred device), a picture of a device called the iMate Jam shown next to the XDA II and XDA III. Wow, was it small. At first I couldn't believe it was a full-blow Pocket PC. After a bit more web searching I found out the device was real and filed it away for the future.
It came time to buy Danna's XDA III as a Christmas present. While shopping around I saw that the Jam had finally gone on sale at Expansys. Pop, there it went into the shopping cart. So did Danna's XDA III, but oddly enough it was back ordered while my Jam shipped. I did a quick bit of shuffling on the web to rectify that: my intention was to wrap up the Jam as my own Christmas present from Danna, and it simply wouldn't do if I had a new phone under the tree and she didn't.
Now that Christmas has come and I've unwrapped the Jam, I can say that it is a really solid device. It is very small -- around the same size as most smartphones today -- and it sports a full 320x240 screen. At this size, I am not in want for a full VGA screen. It only has 64MB of memory, which after filling up my XDA II (which had 128MB) I find a little constraining. But, I've learned to cope with it through a careful balance of main and storage card-installed programs.
The battery life of the Jam is also a pleasant surprise. I haven't tried to run it down, but I find that after two to three days of moderate use it still has > 50% battery life remaining.
iMate Specific Features
iMate has done a really good job making this device feel more like a phone than other Pocket PC devices. There is a nice T9 dialing applet built into the phone, so if I want to call Danna I just need to spell her name on the keypad. They have also included T9, numeric and alpha soft keybards that are large enough to poke at with your finger. That's great as it allows for discrete text messaging without whipping out the stylus.
In all, I'm very pleased with the device. I definitely recommend it for those of you who need the additional power of a full PDA but yearn for the size of a smartphone. Oh, by the way, if you buy one of these guys and need to configure it for Cingular, see my previous post about the O2 XDA II.