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AT&T Blackjack II Windows Mobile Phone Review

Posted by Keith Elder | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 18-01-2008

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A few weeks ago I acquired a Samsung Blackjack II cell phone.  I have been using the phone for several weeks straight and it is time to tell the story of the Blackjack II.  The Blackjack II replaces an aging 8525 Pocket PC phone as well as an aging Cingular 2125 Smart Phone.  Unlike a lot of other reviews from magazines that spit out feature after feature I hope to provide you with a different perspective as a technologist / geek who has used the phone for several weeks.  Let’s get started.

Software Bundle – A
The Blackjack II comes in two colors as shown in the picture to the left, black and wine.  Wanting a different color than black I opted for the wine color.  So far no regrets on the the color choice but it is funny how many people have mistaken this phone for a Blackberry because of the wine color.  The Blackjack II runs Windows Mobile 6 and comes pre-bundled with a nice software bundle.  It includes an AOL, Yahoo! and MSN messenger application, XM Radio, Notepad, Smart Converter, Stopwatch, PDF Viewer, MobiTV, RSS Reader, Smart Search (for searching email, files, documents, etc), Excel Mobile, Powerpoint Mobile and Word Mobile. 

I added a few standard applications I use as soon as I turned it on.  This list included my RSA token generator needed for work along with CodeWallet Pro 6, Google Maps, Facade, Telenav, and Tiny Twitter (recommended by a friend).  The one application I desperately needed was Internet Connection Sharing but it wasn’t included on the phone.

Fixing the Internet Connection Sharing Problem – F before, A after
The Blackjack II does not bundle Internet Connection Sharing which is apart of the standard Windows Mobile 6 application set.  For those of us on the go and traveling this is a must have program to connect our laptops to the Internet while sitting in the airport or other locations outside of the office.  Why it was left off I am not sure.  I was concerned at first about not having this because this was a deal breaker for me.  A few searches later and I had found out there was already a hack to provide the application.  To setup Internet Connection Sharing for the Blackjack II follow these steps (reprinted from the Howard forums).

1. Download the two files below:

 

2.  Transfer both of the files to the “My Documents” folder on the phone.  Do not copy to your storage card FYI.
3.  Install the secpolicies.cab file but using File Explorer located in the Applications folder.  Reboot.
4.  Install the BJ.WM6.ICS.Enable.cab file using File Explorer located in the Applications folder.  Reboot.
5.  Using File Explorer located in the Applications folder navigate to the “My Documents” folder and click on the Certs.cab file and reboot.

After following these simple steps “Internet Application Sharing” should now be visible within the Start Menu of the phone.  Connect the phone to a laptop or desktop computer using the provided USB cable, launch the application and press connect.  Your computer should now be online using the 3G or Edge services from the Blackjack II. 

New Jog Wheel – A-/B+
One of the new features of the Blackjack II is the jog wheel.  The wheel is located in the center of the phone and allows for easy navigation of menus, email, web browsing and much more.  Having had phones with a jog wheel on the side of the phone I have to say that having it on the front is the way to go.  It is natural and allows for easy one handed use.  There are times when the jog wheel feels sluggish though.  I am not sure if this is a programming sensitivity issue or hardware.  To clarify what I mean by sluggish there are times when I will move the wheel just a quarter turn and nothing happens, nothing moves.  It is like you have to move the wheel a lot farther than expected which leaves a sluggish impression sometimes.  I think this could be fixed with a possible registry hack although I haven’t found one yet. 

The only other complaint I have about the jog wheel is I haven’t yet found a hot key that I can press to scroll a page at a time or to select multiple emails for deletion.  When viewing web pages this is really important or when scrolling through 100 emails in the Inbox.  I remember the Blackberry 7290 I had years ago had this feature where a certain key could be pressed and if the jog wheel was moved it would scroll in pages or select multiple lines.  I miss it.

Keyboard / Navigation – A-
I’ve owned a lot of integrated keyboard phones over the years and I find the keyboard on the Blackjack II easier to type on than the previous Palm Treo versions I have owned but not as good as the Blackberry or the slide out keyboard on the 8525.  Of course the main reason for this is the keys are smaller on the Blackjack to save space.  Because the keyboard is smaller it makes the device more portable so this is a trade off.  For my purposes I like the smaller form factor so the rating gets bumped back up.  With this type of phone consumers want the device to function as a phone first and a messaging device second.  In this regard it accomplishes what it sets out to do.

One of the nice features of the keyboard is the built-in hot keys on the front to launch email or the camera.  On previous Windows Mobile devices I’ve owned I’ve always felt there were too many buttons on the sides.  The Blackjack II is very simple in the fact that it only has two buttons not located on the front of the device:  Power and Volume.  This makes the device more one hand friendly.  A big plus over phones like the 8525.

GPS – B+
image The Blackjack II has an integrated GPS SiRF III chip.  This means the phone is capable of being a real GPS not a simulated GPS using cell towers.  Available for $9.99 a month users can select to download and install Telenav on the Blackjack via a program provided out of the box.  I chose to enable this feature since I don’t have a portable GPS and I because of the fact I had removed the $10 fee for push to talk on my account I never used.  The only reason the GPS gets a B+ rating is due to the speed of locking onto satellites while moving.  I had a couple of instances whereby it took a long time to get a signal because I was moving.  As soon as I stopped it locked on.  Once Telenav is setup the Blackjack II speaks directions and offers a lot of the same functionality a regular GPS system offers like finding places nearby, gas prices, favorite locations, hot spots and more.  Telenav is truly a remarkable application and I have been impressed using it.   

As I mentioned earlier I installed Google Maps on the phone as well.  I mainly wanted to try Google Maps with the GPS built into the phone.  I selected the option to enable the GPS option in the menu and once the GPS locked on Google Maps was tracking me as I drove down the road.  While not anywhere near the features of Telenav Google Maps can provide basic GPS functionality.  I found myself launching Telenav much more often since it included spoken directions.  While driving it makes all the difference in the world to hear when you are supposed to turn rather than constantly looking down.  Not to mention being more dangerous.  If you decide to buy this phone and travel a lot, pay the $10 for Telenav, it is worth it.  If you just want to occasionally  do some GPS directions for fun you could probably stick with Google Maps.

Video Share – D
The phone supports a feature called Video Share.  This allows you to conduct one-way video calls.  At $9.99 for 60 minutes of use I don’t suspect many people are going to use this feature.  It is the first phone to support this option from AT&T but the cost is more than likely going to keep 99% of the population from using it.  The other problem is the phone on the other side must support it as well.  So unless you are a road warrior and your spouse has the same phone it isn’t even looking into.

Camera – B
The 2.0 mega pixel camera included with the Blackjack II is decent but will not break any land speed records.  The camera is very sensitive to movement.  I took several photos where I thought I was being extremely still.  But when viewing the picture it turned out to be very blurry.  This may be due to the lengthy shutter speed of the camera.  Once the button is pressed it takes several seconds for the picture to get taken which requires you to keep still longer.   The video capability of the camera will work well enough to post a video to YouTube if needed by the way.

Bluetooth Hands Free Driving – A+
While not a feature of the phone itself I use Bluetooth to get hands free driving all the time.   My Chrysler Aspen has a system called UConnect which supports Bluetooth hands free driving.  Once the phone is paired with UConnect and someone calls while driving a simple press of the UConnect button located on the review mirror answers the call.  People I have talked to say they can’t tell the difference either way and the nice thing is their voice comes across over the speakers.  If a CD is playing in the player when a call comes in the CD is paused automatically while the call occurs. 

There are times when driving with passengers that you don’t want them eaves dropping on the conversation (could be a client or a co-worker).  The Blackjack II has the option to enable an auto pop-up feature which I have found to be the extremely useful to avoid these situations.  Once it detects the hands free headset it pops a dialog to ask if you want to connect or not.  Previously with my 8525 and my 2125 if the truck was running, calls went through UConnect. 

Note:  Previous phones I have had did not pair very well with UConnect but the Blackjack II synced up quickly with no problem.

One Handed Usability – A+
The Blackjack II is extremely easy to use with one hand.  Of all the one handed keyboard devices I’ve used the Blackjack II takes the prize.  It is due to the small form factor and the jog wheel being on the front of the device.  Even with one hand it is easy to navigate calls, email and web surfing.  Once you get used to where applications are in the menus it becomes a quick series of keys to launch one.   The shortcut keys on the front to launch email, camera or turn the phone to silent make it easy to navigate with one hand.

Overall Rating- A-
As far as an overall rating I give the Blackjack II an A-.  I feel that I am well connected because of the 3G data support, built-in GPS, and direct push email.  It is great to be back to a form factor that I truly feel is the best of both worlds (8525 / 2125).  The full QWERTY keyboard makes it a snap to reply to text messages, emails, Twitter and surf the web.  It isn’t anywhere as bulky as the 8525 nor as cumbersome to operate as the 2125 (no keyboard).  For me the Blackjack II combines the best of both worlds and offers a geek like me a good balance of power but in a phone that I don’t feel like I’m carrying around a brick.  My wife’s cell phone plan is up for renewal in February, I am considering getting her one and enabling GPS on it with Telenav so when she travels she doesn’t have to worry about directions and getting lost.

 

  • HOW TO ENABLE/GET BLUETOOTH SERCIES ON BLACKJACK 2?

  • Anonymous

    i have Blackjack II Windows Mobile Phone and for some reason when i go to plug it in and charge it it wont actually charge should i have it looked at or is it something easily fixed

  • Anonymous

    if you install the ICS files as descibed above the certs.cab will be there. don’t use the storage card!! it won’t work.

    If after you install the ICS files it won’t connect to your computer,

    1: make sure there are no other active Network connections, if there are disable them.

    2: the drives must be installed. vista computers should be preloaded but XP and older computers you need to install the drivers off of the cd that came with the phone. you can use the cd nav program or just go to

    D:\OEM\Applications\SAMSUNG_MODEM\setup.exe.

    D: being the letter of your cd-rom drive.

    Works great for me. i take it to work were we have a proxy server. i just disconnect my pc from the network an connect my phone and i can surf all day, but if you do this don’t be stupid cause if you get a virus and they find out what you were doing you’ll probably get fired. Don’t say i didn’t warn you.

  • Anonymous

    i have a BJ2 and i have been using the ICS program for a year …i do not have a teathering plan ..i only have the unlimited data plan …i have found that if the phone says that the remote party has ended this connection ….if you remove the battery while the phone is on this will fix the problem ….and as far as it costing anything to use the ICS hack …no it doesnt …however i dont know if you are useing the “dial up” method if it costs…i love my bj2 and i have the first version ….i upgraded to the WM6.1 and it was great

  • To reset the phone simply press the wheel up when it is turning on. This will allow to reset the ROM and start over.

  • It will be found in the My Documents folder on the device as stated above.

  • Anonymous

    i followed the steps to add ics to the phone and i installed both cabs but the 3rd cad yu mention, certs.cab is not there
    where can i get it?

  • Anonymous

    I am a mobile 6.1 user as well and I went through the steps as well, however, when I click to connect, the phone actually shows connected but for some reason I can’t get the website to open. I keep getting the message “Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage ” Any suggestions? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • Very good to know, thanks for posting and letting us know.

  • Anonymous

    Just FYI…I recently upgraded to Windows Mobile 6.1, which comes with Internet Connection Sharing. It didn’t work with AT&T’s blockade. I tried several sites’ suggestions to no avail. Your cab files worked like a charm…In fact, I disabled my wireless and am sending this post via my tethered BJ2. I thought some upgraded folks may want to know it still works.

  • Anonymous

    can i make my blackjack i607 work on another network other than at&t every thing works other than my internet and picture messaging is there any thing i can do

  • Anonymous

    hey, lets say you download the internet connection sharing file for the blackjack 2 and the connection works on the laptop. will that cost me?

  • Anonymous

    Frankly they were quite a few and I did not jot them down since I did not think it would break the internet sharing hack. I have not called AT&T back. I could do so and take notes unless you have another suggestion.

  • @Drewski

    Curious, what were the settings that had you set?

  • Anonymous

    I used your solution for tethering and it works great however when I try to surf the net from my BJ II I know get 403 Access Forbidden error. Turning the phone on and off fixed it for about 2 days and then the problem surfaces again. I called AT&T and they had me make some setting changes which fixed the surfing problem but broke your tethering hack. I reinstalled your hack and tethering works fine but now back to the 403 error. Any help would be appreciated.

  • Anonymous

    Does any one know of a GPS program like google maps but only displays the longatude and latitude of the location that you are. The program simple shows only numbers and words, no pictures of maps.

    If you do know please e-mail the link to= mmenil1@yahoo.com.

    Thanks

    On google maps, center the location in the map, click on link hyperlink (upper right) and this will show decimal coordinates…

  • Anonymous

    Found this post on another site, relavent to your review of the jog wheel.

    Ok. this is my first ever post on myblackjack2.com, and this has nothing to do with (at least directly) the WM 6.1 upgrade. I just discovered a very useful tip while navigating through start menus. Normally when you use the jog wheel to navigate, you can only go up and down on the sliding panel home screen, or the menus in “list” type start menu style, but never sideways. Try this. Press and hold the Fn key while using the jog wheel! On the home screen, you can navigate side ways on each panel when using the jog wheel, and on the start menu, you can skip to the next page just like you would when you press right or left on the d-pad. On the grid menu style, you would only move left or right, but it will never move down the list. So, I would say this is the same as using the d-pad right or left buttons, but without pressing on the d-pad. I hope everyone finds this useful!!!

  • Windows Mobile Internet Connection Sharing Hack

  • Anonymous

    hi, I dont have a data plan, and recently I lost my PC, can I coonect my BJII to my wirless network at home?

  • Anonymous

    Nice review, thanks!
    Is there any better PDF viewer than the one that comes installed in the phone? You have to struggle a lot to see anything with this one.
    Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    Does any one know of a GPS program like google maps but only displays the longatude and latitude of the location that you are. The program simple shows only numbers and words, no pictures of maps.

    If you do know please e-mail the link to= mmenil1@yahoo.com.

    Thanks

  • Thank you for the shift – scrollwheel. That works fine in the “File Explorer”. It doesn’t work in “My Stuff”. Strange.

    Does anyone know a shortcut to select multiple email messages for deletion or moving?

  • Anonymous

    I appreciate the jogwheel mult select tip. That is the kinds of things I’m looking for here. I tried to install the files for ICS. I never got the certs.cab file, but as soon as I changed ims.cingular to wap.cingular it started working. It only appears to work when connected to my USB cable, but I’m not being charged for airtime, or data plan fees, for the connection am I?

    I love the damn phone, but the data plans appear to cost so much. SHEESH!

    Anyone else got any cool tips?

    I am also looking for a home screen builder program (free, if possible — or cheapware). I used Home screen builver v.??? and it doesn’t want to work for my BJ II. Help?

    tufelhundin

  • Hi,

    you can hold the Shift key and scroll the jog wheel to make a multiple file select.

    MarkV

  • Anonymous

    Natalie, I had to changed settings/connections/gprs/AT&T IMS/Access Point from isp.cingular to wap.cingular. Worked fine after that. After looking at my data access on my att bill all internet access(phone or tethered) is logged as to/from as wap.cingular.

  • Anonymous

    I installed the files correctly and Internet Sharing shows correctly, so now my only problem is this. I hook the phone to my laptop via usb cable and click connect from the phone and it says "The remote party has ended this connection."

    Anyone able to help me with this, I am steady trying to find a way to make this work .. I’ve read all sorts of tutorials and such, but nothing seems to be working. Thanks 🙂

  • Read the directions carefully. It is usually because you missed a step.

  • Anonymous

    So, I can’t get this to work. I followed the directions but it just says the same thing as the guy before, “check USB connection”. I’m at a loss…

  • Anonymous

    works now i rushed thur it, forgot;

    Certs.cab file and reboot

    but, still lost all my contacts

  • Anonymous

    Did anyone else lose there Contacts after installing the above files ? Plus it doesn’t work for me. Go Figure…

  • Anonymous

    Furthermore, plans(unless specifically designated for tethering usage) cannot be used for any applications that tether the device (through use of, including without limitation, connection kits, other phone/PDA-to computer accessories, Bluetooth® or any other wireless technology) to Personal Computers (including without limitation, laptops), or other equipment for any purpose.
    Accordingly, AT&T reserves the right to (i) deny, disconnect, modify and/or terminate Service, without notice, to anyone it believes is using the Service in any manner prohibited or whose usage adversely impacts its wireless network or service levels or hinders access to its wireless network, including without limitation, after a significant period of inactivity or after sessions of excessive usage and (ii) otherwise protect its wireless network from harm, compromised capacity or degradation in performance, which may impact legitimate data flows. You may not send solicitations to AT&T’s wireless subscribers without their consent. You may not use the Services other than as intended by AT&T and applicable law. Plans are for individual, non-commercial use only and are not for resale. AT&T may, but is not required to, monitor your compliance, or the compliance of other subscribers, with AT&T’s terms, conditions, or policies.

  • Anonymous

    I followed the steps to fix the Internet Connection Sharing. When done it does in fact show an “Internet Application Sharing” option under Applications. However, when I go to start it, the status says “Check USB cable connection”. I rebooted PC and Phone, still no luck. Anyone have a solution?

  • Thanks for the post, after migrating from the Blackjack to the BJ 2 I wasn’t able to get online.

    Thanks for the tutorial

  • Anonymous

    Anyone enabling tethering might want to read this so that you know what you are ignoring: http://www.wireless.att.com/cell-phone-service/legal/plan-terms.jsp#data

    Search for ‘tetheting’

  • Anonymous

    i GOT THEM INSTALLED AND TRIED TO CONNECT JUST LIKE I USED TO ON MY BJ AND ITS NOT ACCESSING THE INTERNET FOR SOME REASON.

  • Anonymous

    i AM HAVING PROBLEMS INSTALLING THE TWO APPS ON MY BJII I DONT KNOW HOW TO GET THEM ON MY PHONE AND THEN DOES IT INTSALL AUTOMATICALLY OR WHAT DO I DO.

  • Anonymous

    I followed the steps to fix the Internet Connection Sharing. When done it does in fact show an “Internet Application Sharing” option under Applications. However, when I go to start it the status says “Check USB cable connection”. Any ideas why? Everything is secure. Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    I was looking for Business card scan software but couldn’t find one for BJ II. Is there such one? I saw ScanR but I want this to be done in BJ II without sending the data over network.
    It seems Nokia & Ericsson phones are only available. Do you know any other?

  • Anonymous

    I’ve tried to install ICS on my i760. I install the first two files, but there is no Certs.cab file created. Has anyone been successful, or heard of anyone who has been, in installing ICS on a samsung WM6?

  • Would You Type Business Email On Your iPhone?

  • Anonymous

    Just got the BJII last night and so far so good.
    Has anyone been able to reverse tether it to use a computer with Blue Tooth for it’s Internet access?

  • Anonymous

    Fixing the Internet Connection Sharing Problem – F before, A after
    ARe the files that you suggested still active? Can you use At&T Communication Manager to tether?

  • Anonymous

    Thanks a lot for sharing the fix for the missing ICS functionality – this makes my BJII an almost perfect device (alas, no WiFi…).

  • I agree, the blackjack II is a good phone, the GPS is nice and the form-factor is a plus. I also agree that the camera is a little bit of a disappointment and the video camera capabilities are even worse.

    But this phone has worked great for email and other communication needs.

    Again, good review, very useful.

    I’ve got sample pictures and videos from the phone here for anyone who is curious:
    http://www.4tay.com/blogs/Adam_Parker/Samsung_Blackjack_2_-_Review/1/1/688/

  • I wouldn’t suggest loading google maps unless you have a decent data plan. It loads all of its information from the web in real time using the data connection, even maps. To load it, just open up internet explorer, go to google, and type in google maps. It’ll take you to it.

  • Anonymous

    Hi,

    Can I have google maps copied in my phone even if I don;t have the data plan? And if so, how do I do it? thanks.

  • nice to see you are using tiny twitter… if you have any thoughts on enhancements, changes, fixes, etc please let me know. thanks again – kcawley at smartfeed.org

  • Hey Turner. I would say the battery life is what I expected or better. My 8525 I had couldn’t hardly go a day without recharging. This one with 24 hours of usage doing direct push, checking 2 other email accounts every 30 minutes and checking twitter every 4 minutes (tiny twitter), plus some phone calls, and me doing email, web browsing etc now has 3/4 bars left. I know it has been 24 hours because I remember taking it off the charger about this time yesterday.

    The phone is doing a lot.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for this review. I’ve been looking at this phone as a blackberry replacement. How is the battery life? I had a version one for a few weeks and that was my only real complaint.

  • My wife and I both have the first Blackjack and can’t do without them. Glad to see v2 has been improved even more.