Sydney's First Impressions: Pantech Jest (Verizon)Sydney Myers - Teen Lifestyle Editor
The Jest is definitely unique. It features an optical directional key that is used for navigating around menus. We've seen similar technology with RIM's trackpad or the optical trackpad on some HTC devices, but we've never seen anything like this on a messaging phone before. Is it the dawn of a new era? Well, probably not, but it's pretty cool.
The Jest is a vertical slider so it's a bit shorter than most phones when the keyboard is hidden underneath the top panel. The screen takes up most of the front panel with its 2.6-inch TFT display. It may not be a touchscreen display, but it's definitely bright. I noticed that as soon as I turned it on. Along with the optical directional key mentioned previously, you also are equipped with a Send key, an End/Power key, a music shortcut key (the phone features V Cast Music with Rhapsosdy) and a Clear/Spekerphone key. There are also two selection keys, but these are also unique in that they are touch-sensitive, much like the keys we've seen on the Nexus One or Droid. They seem to work pretty well and, so far, I've had no problems.
The optical directional key has been a different story. The first few times I used it, it wasn't working very well. It basically functions as up, down, left, right, and OK. By swiping down on the key, you're supposed to see the selection on your screen go down. This didn't work too well. I had to use the phone for a little longer before I got the hang of it. I found that it's definitely not has intuitive as a BlackBerry, but it's not too bad. There may be a slight learning curve and I'd personally rather have a basic keypad, but I'm sure I'll get used to it.
The specs on the Jest are fairly mediocre, what with a 2 MP camera and no flash to back it up. There is a self-portrait mirror and the camera does capture video, though I'm sure it's not anything to write home about. The 2.5 mm headphone jack is also quite disappointing. One upside is that the microSD card slot is actually on the outside of the phone. A lot of phones these days make you take the battery cover off in order to get to the card slot. However, though the phone supports up to 16 GB of memory, I don't see how this will be very handy when you're given only a 2.5 mm headphone jack. Though a headset won't be hard to find, it's definitely not what you'd call mainstream. I guess I'll take what I can get.
Overall, build quality seems to be good and sturdy. I've had no problems with a signal, but I'll have to do further testing before I make a decision with that. On a closing note, I am noticing that Jest's user interface and menu system are quite different. It may not seem that way, but once you start using it, you see how screwy it is. That is really going to take some getting used to.
I'm liking the QWERTY keyboard so far. It's a bit smaller, simply because of the style of the phone, but the keys have a great tactile feel to them that add plenty of grip and traction. The phone is powered by a 920 mAh battery, which seems a bit weak, but we'll see how it hold up.
So, there are some unique features, there are some bummer features, and there are some "um..okay?" features, but I'll put the Jest through its paces before I pass final judgement. Keep your eyes peeled for the full review.