Should I get a smart phone?
What are they?Smart phones essentially eliminate the need for two separate devices by combining cell phone and PDA functions in one unit. While prices have gone down slightly in recent months, they are are generally more expensive than standard handsets and you can expect to pay anywhere between S$500 (US$401.74) to S$1,300 (US$1,044.51) for a decent unit. Smart phones these days come in almost all the popular form factors, from the conventional handheld and candy-bar shape to sliders and clamshells. They are available in Symbian, Windows Mobile, Palm and Linux operating systems, each of which has unique characteristics (see below).
Smart phones should, however, not be confused with PDA-phones. They generally offer strong PDA-like features but are primarily still mobile phones. Data is entered either via a normal number pad or QWERTY keypad, though a handful of smart phones do offer touchscreen displays. Comparatively, smart phones also tend to be smaller in size than PDA-phones. On the other hand, PDA-phones offer full PDA functionalities and typically use touchscreen displays (as well as number and QWERTY keypads) for data entry. In most cases, PDA-phones sport larger displays (than smart phones) and are almost impossible to distinguish from a dedicated PDA.
Why do I want one?They're most appropriate if you spend most of your time away from the office meeting and need to sync or have access to your emails, contacts and appointments. They also come packed with tons of useful features, including a speakerphone, a keyboard, Bluetooth, an infrared port and a camera. With increasingly more onboard multimedia features and cheaper flash memory cards, smart phones have become great companions for mobile entertainment, from picture and music playback to games and video.
Can I live without it?The average user can live with the more rudimentary contact features within their cell phones or continue to use a separate PDA if they've already purchased one. If you are looking at phones with more than just the standard PIM features, a smart phone's probably the way to go.
What else should I know?Keep in mind that in addition to the expense and size off the device, if you go the smart phone route, you'll need a plan that can accommodate the extra data usage involved in sending email and surfing the Web. All the major carriers should provide various data plans for mobile users. Also, if your smart phone supports Wi-Fi access, check to see if your carrier offers monthly Wi-Fi plans. Otherwise, you can take advantage of free Wi-Fi hot spots.
Windows Mobile 6
Pros: Mobile versions of Microsoft Office applications; seamless integration with Outlook; wide range of brands to choose from.
Cons: Steeper learning curve than Palm OS.
Major handset brands: HTC, O2, HP.
Pros: Easy to use; large pool of third-party applications.
Cons: No support for 3G; limited choice of devices.
Major handset brand: Palm.
Pros: Lots of available devices; works well with Bluetooth and IrDA; tight mobile Java integration.
Cons: No uniform interface across different devices.
Major handset brands: Nokia, Sony Ericcson.
Pros: Easy to customize and relatively inexpensive.
Cons: Not as popular.
Major handset brand: Motorola.