Devices combine phone, PDA features

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Update: Devices combine phone, PDA features

By Leonard Fischer, Gannett News Service
From USA Today Online
Leonard Fischer

I’ve spent a lot of time recently introducing innovative add-ons that turn handheld PCs into mobile phones. Devices, such as the VisorPhone and Sprint DigitalLink, are great solutions if you need access to data as well as voice services. But not everyone does, and some readers have written in asking me to let them know what’s ahead in mobile phones. Here is a preview of some of the models that will be arriving in the next few months. Final prices haven’t been announced for any of them at this time.

Ericsson has announced the T68, the company’s first mainstream phone with a color screen. To show off the phone’s 256-color display, its users will be able to send “multimedia” messages to other phones or computers on the Internet. The messages can include photos, animations and other graphics. The phone also will include Bluetooth wireless networking technology so it will be able to exchange information such as phone directory entries with other Bluetooth devices. Finally, the phone will be able to operate on both GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) networks and the new, high-speed GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) networks. While the phone sounds cool, Ericsson hasn’t said whether it will be sold in the United States. If the company does sell it here, you’ll probably find the GSM version at VoiceStream Wireless, which has the largest American GSM network, and the GPRS version through AT&T Wireless, which has begun testing GPRS in the Seattle area. Click here to read more about the T68.

Speaking of GPRS, Motorola has announced two new GPRS phones that will be available later this year. The V66 is a compact, flip phone-style handset with some neat features, such as the ability to rotate the screen’s backlight between three different colors so it reflects your personality. The phone also will include a wireless Web browser, voice dialing, voice recording (so you can save reminders by speaking them into your phone) and the ability to synchronize your phone’s address book with one on your PC. The TimePort 280 also supports GPRS and includes many of the same features as the V66, sans the customizable backlight and PC synchronization capabilities. It also isn’t as compact. Motorola lists more information about both phones here.

One phone I’m eagerly waiting to play with is Samsung’s I-300 combination phone and personal digital assistant. This “convergence” device is similar in concept to Kyocera’s 6035 SmartPhone because both phones are powered by the Palm operating system, but the Samsung has one big difference a color screen. At about 6 ounces and less than an inch thick, it’s sure to create a flurry of interest among mobile road warriors, especially if it works as well as it looks. Intrigued? Visit www.samsungusa.com to take a peek.

Finally, Kyocera Wireless soon will release its 2135 model, which appears to be an upgrade of the existing 2035 (sold by Sprint and Verizon) that offers a new version of the wireless Web browser and other small improvements. I expect it will be priced comparably to the inexpensive 2035. Find out more about it here.

Tuesday: Funky tools enhance Palm and PocketPC devices.

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Leonard Fischer is the Technology Section editor for Gannett News Service. If you have questions about how to do something with your handheld or suggestions about what you would like to see covered in our Wireless Update, e-mail him at lfischer@gns.gannett.com. He can’t answer messages personally, but responses to questions may appear in upcoming columns. Browse past updates in the Daily Update Archive.

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