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The i-mate Kjam arrived yesterday thanks to a quick order from Expansys (which turns out to be some sort of contractor for Carphone Warehouse). The ordering process was pretty easy and all I had to do was send some address and identification verification (and sign away my first born child) for a Vodafone UK contract.

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kjam

I excitedly dug into the box and started configuring away. Then I proceeded to spend the evening tinkering which drove me into about 1 am in my bed under the covers with the lights off still sending remote chats and geeking out. Upon 6 am wakeup I immediately continued onward. A bit like a child at Christmas? Yes, I suppose so.

Let’s see what’s exciting with this KJam anyways…

Looks
A little bit bulky, but compared to the larger Blackberry and my old Nokia G3 phone it isn’t that bad. The slideout keyboard is, in one simple word, DOPE. The screen is bright and clear. Not too many buttons (but I am having a hard time trying to figure out what the buttons actually do).

Operating System – Windows Mobile 5.0
Operating system is typical Windows. A bit annoying that the start button is on the top left (instead of the bottom left), but I’ll live. The other weirdness is that applications stay open even when you click on the close X. I find this strange – they just minimise and you have to go into System > Settings > Memory and close them manually. Fortunately I found a hack for this and am currently testing it out.

Applications
Came installed with all typical Microsoft garbage. Internet explorer, Outlook, Calendar, etc… good thing is that it easily connected and synced with my Outlook. Now all my nifty contacts are in there complete with the photos that I had attached previously in Outlook (adds for a bit of excitement).

It also came pre-installed with Skype 1.something. I find this weird because on the Skype website, we are told that minimum system requirements are 400 mhz and the Kjam is a mere 200 mhz. I did some hacking and uninstalled this early version of Skype and go 2.0 on. Chat works fine, but actual calling leaves something to be desired. Also the chat doesn’t support multi-chat quite yet, so my contacts get a popup telling them this (which I find a bit intrusive of my privacy because then people know I am on a device instead of in front of the laptop). The contacts synced really well considering I have about 300 + SkypeOut contacts. This did make it a bit difficult to navigate through. A work in progress, but seems to be going in the right direction.

Phone
Thusfar I have only made 1 phone call on the new phone. I’ve been treating it more like a PDA than a phone. The call was to Vodafone and it felt a little clunky holding this brick up to my ear. The dialling was also strange on the touchscreen and took some time. I think that the best solution for this is to get a Bluetooth headset and set up voice tags or speed dialling.

I also tried to put the phone on speakerphone, but the sound was really weak. Not sure if I was adjusting everything properly, but for now it wasn’t very great.

Add-ons
I have been downloading like a crazy person this evening and installing every trial application known to the Pocket PC world. This is one cool thing… most of the Pocket PC websites offer 15-30 day trials of almost all the software. Gotta love a full featured try before you buy.

So what have I installed?

  • SPB Pocket Plus – this is an app that hacks that annoying little bugs in the OS such as the close program vs minimise. It also lets you configure your Today screen with cool stuff.
  • SPB GPRS Monitor – I added this because I don’t trust those bastads at Vodafone not to charge me my entire life for an accidental over connection of GPRS. A must have. I phoned Vodafone today and was told there are no gprs upgrade plans, you simply pay £2.35 a MB. WTF? I have since more or less tried to disconnect the gprs wherever it might attempt an automatic connection.
  • Agile Messenger – this sweet little app is like the Trillian of the Windows Mobile world. I can connect to AOL, ICQ, Messenger and Yahoo IM programs. Only things that are missing from that list are Skype chat and Gtalk. Seems to work pretty good.
  • Opera browser – I needed to have an alternative to IE. Opera seems to be working pretty good and the bonus is that it has tabbed browsing. Cool!
  • Zagat guide – installed NYC, London, Paris and European restaurant guides. Now I will always have those numbers handy.
  • Wifi companion – to check those wifi connections. The default wifi manager seems a bit weak so I’m going to try this one out.

Overall impressions
Things are looking pretty good so far. New phones and devices usually have about a week or longer learning curve on them. This one is going smoothly and has enough cool functionality and applications to keep me busy tinkering. I’ll report back any major complaints.

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