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Cell Phone or PDA?

By: Steven Masterson -

The term cell phone is becoming nondescriptive of today's portable devices. The units available lately do more than just make and receive phone calls. With the ever decreasing price of electronics, things such as cameras, GPS, calendars, and contact managers have become available even on the cheapest of models. There is such a fine line between the function of a cell phone and a Personal Digital Assistant, that maybe the term "cell phone" will fall by the wayside!

How to choose a cell phone? First of all, any communication outside the device will have to be paid for. Cell phone plans are a whole different topic. But, it is partlly related because some of the functions of these cell phones or PDAs require communication with the internet or other online service. Primarily, you want a device to talk on. A good place to start shopping is the many forums that are related to differeent models. Enter terms like "cell phone review" or "cell phone forum". Many times there are subforums related exclusively to a certain brand or model. If you browse through these forums, you will find many dislikes and likes of many different models. Although consider this- many people post their negative experiences far more than their postive ones in forums. So, keep that in mind that there are no perfect electronic devices. Notice features discussed such as holdability (is the device TOO small or big), sound clarity, reception, how easy to use the menus system of the cell phone. These are key factors. Your device might open your garage door for you. But if you despise using it all day becasue it is uncomfortable to hold or has bad reception, then do not go for it.

Once you have a list of a few models, consider the other functions of the cell phones and what you really need. DO you NEED a camera? Many are just toys. Some models today actually have 1.3 megapixel cameras in them- just like the first digital cameras. How about ringtone quality? Is that important? Some are just "FM synthesized" and give you your typical blleps and bloops arranged into a song. Other have full polyphonic instrumentsplaying the tones. Others play a section of a real song. Do you drive a lot? Some phones have what is called Bluetooth. This is a wireless protocall for connecting to other dvices that are close by. It is excellent for using in your car that has a Bluetooth receiver in it- you can have a handsfree setup with no wwires! Some cars are coming with this function already, but there are kits to add it to any car. Most exciting is the ability to accept memory cards and store MP3s and even movies! The screens are small, but with amazing quailty! Notice, these are just options that enhance the user experience- but sound quailty of the voice and reception far outweigh these options.

Do you have data needs? Some devices have either a Palm Pilot or Windows CE computer in them. These are great if you use these types of devices and want to carry one device. Maybe you are carrying a laptop soley for using somelike like the ACT! Contact manager. Well there is a Palm version of that so you can take all you ACT! data with you, without ther laptop. Maybe you need to be up to date on the latest news? These devices typically also have a small web browser in them, so you can connect to the internet. Granted, you cant get the same webcontent a real computer could due to the screen size, but you can still get the information you need, send an email, receive email, etc. The downside is the size and the cost. They typically are twice the size of a nice compact phone, and sell in the $350+ area. Also, keep in mind that these data services cost extra money. So, if you need these functins, you might start your quest by lookin for cell phone companies that have better priced, or unlimited online service along with your cell minutes. Then you might have to chose a phone from that company's linup.

If you spend the time thinking about what you need and attack the project the right way, you will end up with something you will wonder how you ever lived without. Today's cell phones and PDAs have become integrated heavily into or society. Enjoy your cell phone and use it responsibly! Some states have laws that you cannot hold a cell phone in your hand while driving, so you might want to consider the Bluetooth option or a car kit. Remember, turn your ringer down in the movies or other quiet public place!


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