Selecting a Cell Phone
More Than Just a Phone
Selecting a cell phone is no longer just about mobile communication Ė it is now a lifestyle choice. If you donít select the phone that fits your personality, you wonít be happy with it. New cell phones are beginning to have little in common with earlier cell phones. The new models feature color screens, digital cameras, high-speed internet connections, multimedia games, and music playback. In case you were wondering, you can also use them to make phone calls. Itís only a matter of time before everyone has these features on their cell phones.
Text messaging or ďtextingĒ is now available standard on most cell phones. It is similar to instant messaging except that messages are sent and received by cell phones instead of computers. Multimedia messaging allows you to send audio, video, and pictures as an attachment to a text message. Multimedia messaging was once seen as entertainment, but is rapidly becoming valuable to the business world. Real estate agents take photos of houses with their cell phones and employment agencies may use camera phones to photograph job applicants Ė all away from their office.
Dial In On the Options
Cellular providers in the United States use either GSM or CDMA technology. When you buy a cell phone, it is tied to either GSM or CDMA cellular network, but can't be converted from one to the other. If you ever switch cellular providers, you may also need to switch phones. Most cellular providers now have high-speed data networks. These data networks work with high-end cell phones and special network cards you can purchase for laptops. Data networks usually transmit data slightly faster than a dialup internet connection. These networks are still being developed and are yet to be available everywhere. Look for higher speed networks to be much more common by 2006.
If you want to purchase a camera phone, consider what quality of photos you need to take. Most camera phones have less than a one megapixel resolution, which produces low-quality images. If you need to take clear photos, look into a camera phone with 3 or more megapixels.
Voice Dialing and Bluetooth are becoming standard in many phones to make it easier and safer for people to use their phones while driving. Voice Dialing allows you to speak a personís name into your phone, which will automatically find the person in your address book and dial the number for you. Bluetooth lets you connect a headset to your phone without wires. Some luxury cars are beginning to offer Bluetooth connectivity so that you can take calls in your car through the built-in speaker system.
Some newer cell phones are being designed with an emphasis on entertainment. They can be used to play music MP3 files, stored video and even movies, and video games. In general, the newer phones are all getting smarter and more specialized.
After youíre done choosing the features that you want, donít neglect the practical aspects. Look at how often you will need to change the battery, whether the screen and keypad are too big and too small. Also, caveat emptor: most cellular providers lock you into a one or two year contract when you purchase a phone from them. If you cancel your service, they will charge you an early termination fee.
Deryck Richards is the founder and managing partner of Desktronix. With an extensive educational background in computer information systems, Deryck currently manages hosting and data center operations for Desktronix. He also provides system administration and technical support directly to small businesses as he has since 2000. His areas of expertise include networking, Windows, Linux, and Macintosh systems and he is the author of The Guide to Technology for Small Business. For more information on Desktronix, visit www.desktronix.com.