Imaging is above average. The camera has autofocus and comes with a powerful LED light for night portraits. There are a handful of scene modes, metering options and a modest movie mode capable of fun little 352x288-pixel movies. You've also got Bluetooth for sending to compatible inkjet printers.
T-Mobile isn't making a big fuss of the built-in SiRF Star III GPS receiver, mainly because it has disabled it in units currently shipping. To activate it, you have to splash out an additional £187 on CoPilot's Navigator 6 software -- but expect reasonably priced bundles to hit T-Mobile stores in the next few months.
As a mobile Web device, the Ameo is hard to beat. Wi-Fi is easy to set up and T-Mobile's HSDPA service reliably delivers a 3G-stomping 600 to 800Kbps downstream, with the Opera browser easily able to keep up. You'll have trouble with Java and some streaming sites but for sharp, well-formatted, speedy browsing, there's little to rival it for broadband on the move.
The 3-megapixel camera isn't as good as those on Sony's Cyber-shot phones or most of Nokia's N-series handsets, but it delivers detailed, cartoon-bright stills in a range of conditions, even low light. Small, jerky movies are fine for shorter clips.
The stereo headset is predictably painful, both to look at (very plasticky) and to listen to (plenty of hiss and mush). You'd hardly think of using the Ameo as a phone, but voice calls are actually clear and strong, even if audio does emanate weirdly from both of its stereo speakers simultaneously. If you do have to make calls without a headset, talk into the joystick end of the device and get off the line quickly before passers-by start pointing and laughing.
Battery life is very good. After a fairly intensive 7-hour testing period, the Ameo intelligently shut down the power-draining Wi-Fi, but allowed HSDPA data traffic and PDA functions to continue. Still, you should probably charge it every day.
The Ameo keyboard is far too small and slow to allow real touch-typing, so it's no real competition for genuine laptop computers. But at the same time, and even with its GPS functionality disabled, it's faster and more powerful than almost every other smart phone out there -- and with a screen that's simply stunning.
Nokia's N800 has a faster, more colourful display, but it lacks cellular communications and suffers from weak, buggy PDA software. In contrast, the Ameo offers genuine broadband Web surfing and instant email on the move, either via Wi-Fi hotspots or lightning-fast HSDPA.
Of course, for the Ameo's SIM-free price, you could easily buy a budget laptop. But if you want to re-live the '80s experience and fit your entire working life into one Filofax-shaped device, the Ameo is well worth checking out.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Nick Hide