Samsung BlackJack i607 review: Smart, sleek, but bound by data fees

Samsung i607 BlackJack Smartphone (Cingular) The Samsung BlackJack is beautiful to look at and the slightly rubberized finish feels nice in the hand. Using the main keyboard is pretty comfortable, however the center OK button and surrounding directional buttons often lead to mis-taps on either side.

The BlackJack’s screen is bright and ultra-sharp. Out of the box the phone syncs perfectly with Outlook. That means contacts, calendar and to-do items, emails – and thanks to an add-in extra, sticky notes, too. (For some reason Microsoft doesn’t offer Outlook sticky notes sync with Windows Mobile 5 as standard equipment, hence the helpful add-in that comes with the BlackJack.)

It’s worth mentioning that the BlackJack comes with two batteries, which suggests the battery life isn’t the greatest. Such was the case in my test of the phone, which meant I always had the extra one charging with the charger, and when at my desk I kept the phone plugged in to the USB cable to keep it charging at the same time. USB charging is always a nice touch, and one I appreciate on my Palm Treo 680 as well.

The BlackJack’s applications – Internet Explorer, Email, Media Player – run smoothly, but as with all Windows Mobile devices you may want to keep tabs on what’s running in memory, then manually cancel loaded but unused programs in order to maintain an overall snappier responsiveness when opening menus and operating programs. I’ve always found Windows Mobile devices a bit tricky to get used to, mostly because settings are scattered all over the place and require lots of hunting to get to exactly what you’re looking for, and the BlackJack was no exception.

 A few standout features: When used with Vista, a simpler, smoother experience syncing pictures, music, and video; built-in BlueTooth; and a reasonably loud speakerphone.

Will the BlackJack replace the Palm Treo 680 I recently purchased? No, though I wish it could because I do like the BlackJack’s thinner design and better 1.3 megapixel camera over the clunkier Treo 680. On the other hand, I like Palm’s simpler (albeit increasingly dated) operating system over Windows Mobile.

But the real reason the BlackJack can’t replace my Treo 680? Actually, I have two: AvantGo and Vindigo, both of which I use almost daily. While AvantGo is available for the BlackJack, the Windows Mobile version no longer uses your computer’s net connection to sync sites you’re subscribed to when syncing the rest of your stuff. Instead, you must use the phone’s data connection – which means forking over cash for a data plan. As for Vindigo, it’s not available for the BlackJack. The Treo 680, on the other hand, lets me sync both AvantGo and Vindigo via HotSync, bringing everything up to date via my net connection without requiring the extra expense of a data plan.

Would I recommend the BlackJack to users who don’t care about AvantGo or Vindigo? Absolutely – especially if you’re a Windows user. And while the BlackJack and Windows Mobile devices aren’t designed to work with Macs, Mac users can sync with the BlackJack (and other Windows Mobile phones) with Mark/Space’s Missing Sync for Windows Mobile, which sells for $39.95.


2 Responses to “Samsung BlackJack i607 review: Smart, sleek, but bound by data fees”

  1.   1 Matthew Stotts

    your point about the rubberized finish made me think…have you looked at the t-mobile dash? with wifi included and tmobile’s data plans it’s seems a pretty strong contender. I’m still in a quandary…holding out for something that will make me give up my treo 650. – m

  2. 2 Joe Hutsko

    I’ve read about it, but have not had any hands-on experience. Thanks for pointing it out – I’m going to look into possibly reviewing one. Thanks again, Joe

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