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It's a sad fact that much of the tech on sale these days is still targeted at men. Many smartphones, laptops, PCs, sat-nav devices seem very masculine, not only because they're toys and fun to play with, but because of the way they're designed.
Take my wife (come on, it's Christmas, I'm allowed one Les Dawson gag...): whenever I wave a new gadget at her with a silly grin on my face that says "isn't this cool?", the response is normally distinctly luke warm. "It's too masculine," she moans, a criticism that, just recently, has been aimed firmly at the smartphones I've had in for review.
When you sit down and think about it, she's right, of course. They're usually quite big, squarish and grey or black. Even the names are macho: the X600, the 503G, the TyTN II (for pity's sake!)... you get the picture. So it's refreshing to see something that elicits something different to the wrinkled-up nose and look of disdain. I'm talking about i-Mate's latest BlackBerry-style smartphone, the Jama 201.
It's easy to see why. Though the Jama is still clad in rather masculine black clothes, and has a pretty geeky-sounding name, it's very, very slim. At 14mm thick it's only a touch thicker than a biro, and it's not too wide (63mm), tall (113mm) or heavy (152g) either. Despite the fact that it's the same size on paper as the BlackBerry 8800 this just feels slimmer - in fact the closest phone I can think of to the 201 in terms of pocketability (or should I say handbag friendliness) is Samsung's i600, but this i-Mate beats it hands down in terms of its chic appeal.
The 201 is also a very tactile device. The whole chassis is coated in that lovely rubbery, soft-touch plastic which, as well as feeling soft and smooth under your fingertips, also means when you're typing away on its QWERTY keyboard it feels secure in your hands, unlike a number of soap-bar phones I could mention.