So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
i-mate Ultimate 6150
- HSDPA-capable, beefy processor and GPU, VGA screen, Wi-Fi, XGA direct out connection
- Needlessly chunky, touch screen could be bigger, lacklustre design
The Ultimate 6150 lives up to its namesake when it comes to power and efficiency. However, some questionable design choices have dragged down the overall quality of the product. Nonetheless, it remains an able performer.
Price$ 1,079.00 (AUD)
Following in the tsunami-like wake of the Apple iPhone, i-mate has wisely opted to replace its ailing JASJAM smartphone with a new touch screen offering. Enthusiastically dubbed the Ultimate 6150, this latest TFT model is a quad-band GSM 850/900/1800/1900, GPRS and 3.5G HSDPA phone equipped with some (but not all) of the usual bells-and-whistles. While undoubtedly a speedy performer, several key areas -- including the aforementioned touch screen interface -- unfortunately fail to impress.
In terms of size and appearance, the 6150 is nigh on identical to its keyboard-equipped cousin; the Ultimate 8150. Unfortunately, this means that a large amount of surface area has been effectively wasted -- instead of slimming down the device or significantly enlarging the touch screen, i-mate has left a big ugly space where the 8150's keypad usually resides. It makes for a sparse and chunky look that is sure to put off many prospective buyers. On the other hand, some may well appreciate the simplistic, basic-black design, which remains elegant, if a little bulky.
Beneath its drab faceplate, the Ultimate 6150 sports a surprising amount of grunt. Indeed, this is the only area where the 6150 truly shines, offering one of the fastest, smoothest performances we have seen from a smartphone thus far. Powered by an Intel Bulverde 520MHz processor and NVIDIA GoForce 5500 graphics accelerator, it will run all Windows Mobile 6 applications without a hitch and is equally adept at Web downloads and video playback. For your memory needs, the 6150 comes equipped with 128MB of RAM; expandable by up to 2GB via MicroSD (4GB cards are not currently supported).
One of the main drawcards of the 6150 is its touch screen VGA display, which enjoys a maximum resolution of 640x480 pixels. Intriguingly, a VGA output has also been included, allowing you to connect the device to a secondary display. This not only makes the Ultimate 6150 ideal for your multimedia needs, but should also prove handy for PowerPoint presentations. The only downside (and it's a pretty big one) is the overall size of the screen. At 2.8 inches, it fails to live up to its full potential, with smaller text and 'busy' Web sites proving difficult to read. Furthermore, large-handed individuals are bound to be hampered by the onscreen keyboard and undersized icons; a fact not helped by the miniature five-way thumbstick. This makes entering data a real chore, especially if you're not a huge fan of touch screens to begin with.
For voice calls, the 6150 performed decently enough, though it doesn't sound as good as a regular 3G handset, with volume occasionally dropping to unintelligible levels. On the plus side, the included handsfree speakerphone works quite well and should eliminate these problems in all but the noisiest of environments. Naturally, the handset is also compatible with third-party headsets via Bluetooth and mini USB, which we strongly recommend for frequent MP3 users. (Incidentally, the integrated FM radio is surprisingly solid; offering crystal clear audio with 12 presets.)
Photos taken with the 2-megapixel camera are about what we would expect from a smartphone; adequate but far from sharp or vibrant. Being a 3G handset, the 6150 also includes a front mounted VGA camera for video calls. One feature that left us pleasantly surprised was the video recorder; which produced silky smooth footage that looks great on the 6150's high resolution screen.
All up, the Ultimate 6150 is far from awful, but unfortunately it has already been outclassed by several competing units. For a slightly higher premium, the HTC TyTN II will net you a slide out QWERTY keyboard, a built-in GPS (with included Co-Pilot software), a 3-megapixel camera and a versatile tilting display; all of which are absent from this model.
The i-mate Ultimate 6150 is rated at up to four hours talk time and 300 hours standby time; a fair but not astounding result.
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