I've owned my Samsung i607 BlackJack for about five and a half months. It's been an awesome phone that I've liked enough to spend additional money for accessories for use solely with it, and I'm tightfisted. I started out connecting it to my Gateway CX2620 TabletPC with a USB cord. With it I could sync all of my data and share the phone's internet connection. The connection is about twice as fast as a 56k telephone modem connection. Amazing for travelling, but awful for regular use. Right now I'm using a Logitech Bluetooth 2.0 EDR dongle to sync it to my TabletPC. I've had Windows XP installed and also Windows Vista Ultimate. Syncing works with both but the Bluetooth PAN and my Motorola HT820 headphones do not work with Windows Vista. The headphones work great with the phone though. It's got a camera on the back too.
- As a Phone
The BlackJack works fine as a phone. The buttons are a little small, so when you're dialing a number it's a little harder than it might be on a phone with less buttons. The dialer (which pops up if you start pressing numbers at the home screen) has large, easy to see numbers which can be customized in the settings. If you start typing at the home screen, you can enter your contacts' names to bring up their entry in contacts and pick which number you want to dial.
Its ability to maintain contacts is great, it has about 40 different fields for contact information. Some important but not quite obvious ones are work related information, addresses, instant messenger handles, email address, family members, and a picture of them. After opening the contacts browser, you can begin to type letters to select a specific contact quickly. Once a contact is selected, you can use the left and right selection keys to navigate through different forms of contact including home number, email address (which takes you directly to a new e-mail message if you have an account set up and the contact's email in their contact information), text message (which will open up a new txt message with their number in the to: field) or work number.
- As a PDA
Since the BlackJack runs Windows Mobile 5 (Cingular plans to provide BlackJack-specific updates soon, to version 6) it's considered a Smartphone, a non-touch screen PDA phone without a stylus. Its functionality as a PDA gives it extreme customizability; the fact that it runs Windows Mobile means that there are many users which have already covered much of what can be customized. You can change just about any software feature of the BlackJack that you want, if you look hard enough on the internet. Google can find anything.
I've personally made several home screens. People use the fact that they don't know xml to keep them from making their own home screens but if you have any coding experience, and just look at a few of the existing home screens, you can figure out how to move stuff around and put it where you'd like. After that, it's all a matter of drawing (or copying and pasting from somewhere else) a background to fit the menu items. I've designed a few myself. They're simple, but readable. All of that stuff is kept in \Application Data\Home.
Not only is the home screen customizable, but since there are many users who make use of Windows Mobile 5, and since it is run on many different types of devices, there are small companies that have released a wide range of applications which can run on the BlackJack. Some examples are Fizz Weather, which can keep track of a 7 day weather forecast, Handi TV, which provides streaming television feeds over the internet, and Google Maps, which can give you directions to anywhere. As time progresses, support will grow, and people will design more software. This device's software capabilities are not far from that of a small laptop PC. There's plenty of freeware programs out there that work almost as good as any of the pricey ones. The only program I've ever found worth paying for is Right Menu, made by Mycnknow, which provides even more customization options by converting your contacts button (and your start button, if you so choose) into a pop-up, windows start kind of menu which can be populated with shortcuts, menu dividers, and subfolders. You can even add shortcuts that will open a blank text message or e-mail with the recipient already filled out.
- Internet Connection
I work as an assistant to the head of IT for a department of a large university, so a lot of my work communication is done through e-mail. With an unlimited data plan, the BlackJack can check your e-mail as often as you'd like (down to every 15 minutes). Using GPRS the speeds are a little too slow to browse around with Internet Explorer. Pages just take too long to load and are too small to read for it to be practical.
But, the internet connection is for more than just browsing around; it opens up a ton of possibilities for applications. Some manage e-mail, download weather forecasts, send instant messages of varied protocols, find driving direction information, look up phone numbers, and do just about anything else you could do on a computer with the internet. People are thinking up new uses for it as we speak.
Using the USB data cable (which has a weird connector I've never seen on any other device) you can share an internet connection with your computer. I do it with my TabletPC. When the internet goes down at home, or I travel away from a high speed internet connection, it's a godsend as I can still get online and do whatever I want.
If you have Bluetooth capabilities on your computer, you can probably take advantage of the Bluetooth PAN as well, a wireless sharing of the internet connection. I can't get it to work with Windows Vista for some reason (I hear they reduced the functionality of Bluetooth in it) but I've gotten it working in Windows XP. Neither method is very fast (as I said previously, only about twice as fast as a 56k telephone modem connection) but both of them work anywhere you can get your carrier's signal.
- Pairing with Bluetooth devices
Since the BlackJack has a weird port, used for charging and data, which doesn't stay connected well, anything you want to connect has to be Bluetooth. Don't even bother buying a headphone adapter, or wired hands-free earpiece. The connectors will fall out frequently and reliably. With the headphone jack adapter there's also a painful pop that happens occasionally; it's loud and obnoxious.
Even though that port is so horrible, a lot of effort has been made to make up for that. Pairing the phone with Bluetooth devices is simple, fast, and easy. My headphones work great. I can listen to music on it and make and receive calls. I tested it with a friend in the room. He said it didn't sound like I had a headset on, it sounded just like I was talking with the phone next to my head. They're great.
Pairing with my TabletPC is easy too, I simply open up ActiveSync and "Connect via Bluetooth". The Bluetooth functions on the BlackJack are awesome. Watch out for Windows Vista though; I read on the internet that Microsoft included a Bluetooth "stack" (which is a list of functions) that was reduced in functionality from the one included in Windows XP. I have a Bluetooth dongle included with a Logitech mouse, which doesn't work perfectly all of the time. I'm not sure which problems are with Vista and which are with the dongle, but I can't get my Vista laptop to pair correctly with my Motorola HT820s or connect to a Bluetooth PAN created by my phone. Your BlackJack will be reliable, but watch out for Vista.
The BlackJack is absurdly capable when it comes to playing media. There's been a lot of work in the past designing applications that play video for PocketPCs. The BlackJack is pretty much a landscape-view only PocketPC with a smaller screen and a full qwerty keyboard. There's a free player called the Core Pocket media player; It has plugins which can support multiple videos in different formats with different codecs. There are other players that cost money, but I'm not big on spending money on software.
This, combined with a large capacity microSD card (I have a 1gb card, which is dirt cheap but I might buy a 2gb one in the future, if they get cheaper) can provide hours of entertainment. There are even forums on the internet that will teach you how to cut a small piece of plastic out of your extended battery case to make a slot to securely hold one to two spare microSD cards. I've got an old 512mb that a friend gave me tucked safely away, just in case, with a SD to microSD adapter for my TabletPC. Having that really speeds up large file transfers like music and video. Bluetooth transfers are intolerably slow, and USB transfers aren't that much better.
- Personal Planning
Pocket PC type devices have had calendar related functions for a long time to keep track of scheduled meetings and other special dates like birthdays, which led to contacts managers that link specific people to those events. Such functionality is very useful, but not always worth it to the average person if they have to lug around an expensive electronic device. It's mostly been reserved for people with technological fetishes, and people with crazily hectic schedules. Now you can use it on your phone.
The BlackJack, by default, can easily switch between current day, current week, and current month views. The individual events have about 12 different fields, including ones like subject, different relevant times, locations, and a status indicator. I say, "by default," because there are at least two pieces of third party software that provide entirely different calendar functions, I just haven't felt the need to take the time to install some advanced calendar software. Windows Mobile 5 handles it well enough to take care of my needs.
- The Camera
To be honest, I don't use the camera much. I've used it a few times, to grab quick pictures of funny or absurd stuff. I've also used it to take pictures of several of my favorite contacts. There are applications which can place a photo-based contact selector on your home screen. Whenever you type a text message or e-mail to that contact, it will show a picture of them at the top of the message as well.
There are some applications, such as shozu which can pop up a dialog box right after you take a picture, prompting you to e-mail it or save it somewhere specific. Without those, the camera will just save to wherever you set the default path. You can move them to your computer by syncing the phone or putting the microSD card into a card reader. There's also options in the Bluetooth connection settings for printers, which you could probably use to print pictures out.
The resolution's not that great, but it's much better than most camera phones I've seen. There are instructions on the internet that can help you modify the camera settings to make the video recordings save in the same resolution as the pictures. If you don't do that though, it's defaulted to being a bit smaller, probably to conserve storage space.
- I Love It
A full keyboard, combined with short and long term scheduling, working seamlessly with an electronic device as integral to daily life as the telephone makes for an immensely useful device. Add to that usefulness an extremely well designed Bluetooth implementation and a wide range of audio and video compatibility and your device rivals and surpasses the functionality of solely audio and video providing mobile devices. By adding internet service to a media playing telephone, you reduce the cost of obtaining any information you can get from the internet greatly, putting all of the resources of the internet one step closer than a laptop and a half step farther than making a call on your telephone.