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Review: Pantech Jest

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As far as I'm concerned the Pantech Jest needed to get one feature right, and that's messaging. Unfortunately, Pantech did not succeed. The messaging experience on the Jest is barely functional, let alone satisfying. The text messaging app looks good, with threaded messaging and big, colorful balloons to help you track both sides of a conversation. When the Jest receives a message, it doesn't take you to the threaded screen by default, instead you're shown the message with too much unnecessary header information. You have to close this message and open the Messaging app to see the threaded view. Every aspect of text messaging is equally complicated. You can send a silly graphic through the threaded text message view, but not a photo. Once you figure out how to send a Picture Message, taking a new picture requires a lot of menu digging. Pictures do not show up in line with the rest of the conversation. You have to open them separately, and wait a few seconds for each image to load. Worst of all? Some of my outgoing test messages never went through.

Beyond text messaging, things only get worse. The phone supports email with Verizon's Mobile Email client and a Mobile Web Mail service. I tried to use the Mobile Email, but the phone would not accept my password. This will become a running theme on the Jest. I tried numerous times, using all sorts of hoodoo magic on the function and shift keys, but my somewhat complicated password was never accepted. It was only when I changed to a simple, short password with all lower case letters that Mobile Email finally worked. It was not worth the effort or the lapse in my personal security. The app runs quite slowly. Opening a simple text message took more than ten seconds, sometimes much longer. Text looked skeletal and thin, which made it difficult to read. Even worse, Verizon charges $5 per month for the privilege of Mobile Email, on top of whatever data fees you accrue. Mobile Web Mail relies on the simple WAP browser, but it only works with Yahoo, Verizon.net and AOL accounts, and I use none of these. If email is your preferred method of communication, best skip the Pantech Jest. Doesn't Verizon's Mobile Email Client require a $10 monthly fee? -Eric Zeman 8/23/10 5:23 PM

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For social networking, the Jest uses the Social Beat app from iSkoot. Social Beat seems like a very convenient option. Like the Social Net app on AT&T, Social Beat collects status updates from Facebook and Twitter, and also displays your Gmail inbox and even conversations from Google Talk. Unfortunately, I could not get any of these services to work. I use a different password for each of those services, and the Pantech Jest would not recognize any of them. Like with the Mobile Email client, I tried every permutation I could manage, and I could never successfully log on. Once again, changing to a very simple new password granted me access. I wonder if there is some issue with the function and shift keys that interferes with the password fields in these apps, because they seemed to only accept my passwords made of lower-case letters.

Once I got Social Beat working, I was again disappointed. In my Facebook feed, the app loaded a single status message from a friend who updated hours ago. Looking at my desktop, I knew there should be more, but constant digging and refreshing on the phone offered no new updates from friends. At the very least, Gmail users have a way to avoid the fees of the Mobile Email client by using Social Beat, but Gmail is the only supported email service on this app.

As a last resort, the Pantech Jest uses a somewhat clever trick for updating your status and sending photos to Facebook and MySpace. Basically, the phone has text messaging and MMS shortcuts for these sites. Both social networks accept updates and photos by text message, so on the Jest you only have to click on a link and the phone automatically fills in the recipient field for you. Then, you type a text message, with a 160 character limit, or send an MMS picture message, and they show up on your favorite social site. Though I'd prefer a more advanced version of the Social Beat app, I like having these shortcuts on the Pantech Jest since users with an unlimited messaging plan will be able to update their feeds without paying for any data service.

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