Need to buy a gift for somebody who loves technology but you can’t afford the big ticket items?
- Plenty of Features, Two Stylus, Full QWERTY Keyboard, Large Display
- Rather large and Bulky, Sliding Mechanism, Small Keyboard keys, Camera, Voice Call Performance
The i-Mate is a rather large and bulky unit, but it does have a pretty good list of features and functions without any major problems.
Price$ 1,219.95 (AUD)
Sporting a full slide down QWERTY keyboard and a large display, the i-Mate PDA2k is a feature packed smart phone, but is hindered by its size and a poorly implemented slider.
The 210 gram and 125mm long PDA2k is one of the largest smartphones we've reviewed. While smartphones are generally larger than standard mobiles, it is hard to cup the PDA2k comfortably in your hand. Nevertheless, somewhat justifying the size is the QWERTY keyboard that i-Mate has built into this unit. The keys are responsive and work well, although their small size may present a problem for larger fingers. The slider that provides access to the keyboard feels stubborn and, while the slider does open and close adequately, greater force than is expected or indeed warranted is required.
The PDA2k has plenty of buttons on its exterior. Contacts and calendar keys are located above the screen with Start, messaging, Internet Explorer and OK buttons laid out horizontally underneath the display. There's also a 5-way navigational pad and answer/end call keys. Most of the buttons are easy to press and operate, although the navigational pad seemed a little flimsy and wasn't comfortable for long periods of use.
The controls don't end there with dedicated camera and notes buttons on the left hand side of the phone, with a volume key in between. The volume slider is spring operated and doesn't protrude enough to be used easily - you'll find yourself digging in with the tip of your finger to operate it. i-Mate conveniently includes a spare stylus in the package, so you won't have to worry if you lose one of them.
The PDA2k has a large display, although its performance doesn't match some of the more recent smartphones we've seen. With a resolution of 240 x 320 it's not outstanding, but it does suffice comfortably for everyday use. If you are planning to watch videos or view plenty of photos then the PDA2k's screen isn't going to be ideal. The unit also does not include a screen protector.
The quad band PDA2k has a pretty impressive features list and only lacks a GPS receiver. It supports SMS, MMS and e-mail messaging and runs on Microsoft Pocket PC 2003 Second Edition. The PDA2k is equipped with an Intel PXA263 400 MHz processor and includes 128MB RAM and 64MB ROM. An SD card slot is located at the top of the unit for extra memory options.
As with all Windows Mobile OSs, the e-mail function is very simple to use on the PDA2k and it supports mail access to POP3 and IMAP accounts. All you need to do is enter your e-mail address as well as the mail server and provided your wireless connection is available, the device will import all other settings directly from the Internet. The Pocket PC 2003 platform also includes a full suite of Microsoft applications including Pocket Word, Pocket Excel, Pocket MSN, Windows Media Player, MSN Messenger, Microsoft Outlook and Internet Explorer.
Connectivity is also a strong point of the PDA2k and it includes Bluetooth, Wi-Fi (802.11b), infrared, USB and GPRS. Bluetooth is quick and easy to access with the included Wireless Manager software. The LED in the top left hand corner will glow blue when this function is turned on. This is the same with Wi-Fi - the right LED flashes green when you are connected to an available wireless network.
The PDA2k includes a VGA camera. We were disappointed that this wasn't upgraded to a megapixel or greater sensor. It's good for quick snapshots, but with the limited sensor and no flash or light we wouldn't recommend it for anything else. Other multimedia features include an MP3 and AAC player and Java games but there is no FM Radio. The PDA2k has a 2.5mm audio jack rather than the more common 3.5mm.
Purely as a phone, the PDA2k isn't without its issues. The volume levels during calls aren't loud enough and it just doesn't have the same clarity or crispness as a regular standard mobile phone.
Battery life is about average, with a talk time of four hours and up to 168 hours of standby time. For a device with such a plethora of features, this is a pretty good result. During testing, we found we only needed to charge the unit every three days. i-Mate includes a rather large cradle in the sales package and the unit can also be charged via the included adapter. The phone can also be charged by USB .
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