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Product Spotlight

Samsung Blackjack

Thin, black and sleek, the Samsung Blackjack is fit for a player.

Qwerty smartphones tend to be so equal in their operational extravagance—heavily equipped with Bluetooth 2.0, a 1.3-megapixel camera with video, instant messaging and speakerphone—that they're only distinguishable by their marketing campaigns, and even then only barely.

Operating on Windows Mobile 5.0, the quad-band GSM Blackjack has had, by far, the most sensational ad campaign—pushing not only work and personal capabilities but also entertainment functions, which may or may not have a bright future ahead of them, such as streaming video and XM Satellite Radio, but are still in their nascent crawling stages.

Let's stick to the basics: Email and messaging on the Blackjack (on the once Cingular and now AT&T network) couldn't be easier to setup and operate. There are plenty of email options, from Office Outlook Mobile to push email services such as Microsoft Mobile Direct Push, Good Mobile Messaging and Cingular's Xpress Mail.

For the most part, the Blackjack has a serviceable though flawed keypad. The letter pad isn't as ergonomically thought-out as the Palm Treo's curved keys, but it doesn't rate much lower. It's the Blackjack's control pad that needs improvement. The circular arrow keys are at the same height as the keys to either side of them, and more often than not, I found myself accidentally nudging the End Call key whilst mid-page-turn—a nuisance.

But when I wasn't prematurely halting applications by accident, I found the Blackjack to do everything quite well. The phone is clear. The contact list is convenient. And the color screen could be the brightest on the market. But as with many phones with hyper-intense screens, battery life isn't the greatest. Expect to charge the Blackjack after two days of moderate use. — M.E.