Gaming laptops are traditionally full of compromises.
- HSDPA capable, ships with two batteries and a second battery charger, bright, wide display, three-way scroll wheel for navigation
- Cramped keypad, no Wi-Fi, no included microSD card, no included headphones and no 3.5mm jack, limited multimedia file support, can't edit Office documents, USB 1.1
A solid, if not outstanding entry to the smart phone market, the BlackJack is a mixed bag. It has HSDPA, an excellent display and good email functionality, but the inability to edit documents and the lack of Wi-Fi are sour points.
Price$ 899.00 (AUD)
The first HSDPA smart phone from Samsung, the BlackJack aims for a healthy dose of work and play. With a full QWERTY keyboard, push e-mail functionality, and an excellent display, the BlackJack is a solid, if not outstanding entry into the packed smart phone market.
The BlackJack is a tri-band GSM (900/1800/1900), GPRS and 3.5G HSDPA capable smart phone, meaning it is capable of supporting downloads of up to 1.8Mbps. It performs reasonably well for voice calls, but we found volume too soft, even at the maximum level, although the hands-free speakerphone did work well. As with most smart phones the BlackJack isn't as loud or clear as regular mobile phones. It is difficult to hold a conversation with background noise, such as busy city traffic. The BlackJack is equipped with plenty of standard phone functions including a hands-free speakerphone, speed dialling, call history, and a phone book. Despite being a 3G handset, the BlackJack doesn't include a front mounted VGA camera for video calling.
The BlackJack runs the Windows Mobile 5.0 operating system, so it naturally features push e-mail, as well as the synchronisation of contacts, calendar and tasks with Microsoft Outlook. A USB cable is included in the sales package, but it uses a Samsung proprietary connection instead of a regular mini-USB connection, and only USB 1.1 interface, rather than the newer 2.0 interface. The BlackJack has mobile versions of Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player 10, Pocket MSN, Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint and Microsoft Word, but the biggest let down of this unit is the fact that you can't edit these Office documents, you can only view them. Also, the supported file formats are limited compared to other handsets, as only MP3, WMA, WMV and WAV can be used. There are no included headphones in the sales package, and there's no standard 3.5mm headphone jack on the unit itself, so you'll have to purchase a set of the proprietary headphones before using this function.
The GPRS/EDGE wireless functionality makes the BlackJack a good email device, although we were disappointed with the lack of Wi-Fi. The standard Windows Mobile messaging application supports push email from a Microsoft Exchange mail server, as well as standard POP3 and IMAP email accounts such as Hotmail, GMail and Yahoo! Mail. Also standard is Bluetooth 2.0 connectivity and a range of organiser applications like notepad, stopwatch, converter, voice recorder and world clock.
Continuing the work and play theme, the BlackJack includes a 1.3-megapixel camera, with a self-portrait mirror. The camera snaps images at up to 1280x960 resolution and users can adjust white balance, use several effects, and take photos using a two, five or 10 second self-timer. Overall though, the quality of images is quite poor and not recommended for anything more than a few happy snaps. Images can be saved to the 42MB of internal memory, or the microSD card slot, located under a plastic cover on the right side of the unit. Unfortunately, Samsung doesn't include a microSD card in the sales package.
The BlackJack doesn't have a touch-screen or stylus but does include a full QWERTY keyboard and an intuitive three-way scroll wheel with a back button to ensure it remains easy and hassle-free to operate. The keyboard buttons are raised, but their small size and cramped spacing make them more problematic when punching out long emails. Samsung has coloured the number keys on the keypad grey, rather than black. This makes them easy to differentiate when typing phone numbers. The rest of the controls consist of a five-way navigational pad, two selection buttons, answer/end call keys and dedicated buttons for home and back.
Measuring 113mm x 59mm x 11.8 mm and weighing a very reasonable 105g with the battery, the BlackJack is quite compact for a fully fledged smart phone. It is finished in a matt-black plastic with a silver navigational pad and earpiece, the only distinguishing design features. The thin yet wide design suits the 2.3-inch display, which is very bright and clear and excellent for most uses. The QVGA screen has a resolution of 320x240 pixels.
Battery life is rated at 5.5 hours of talk time and up to 11 days of standby time, according to Samsung figures. Keep in mind that excessive multimedia usage will diminish these figures considerably, so for heavy users the BlackJack may need to be charged every night. Samsung conveniently includes two batteries in the sales package though, and a battery charger case means users can charge the second battery without the phone.
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