January 01, 2003
Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio January 2003 Current Issue
January 2003 Tech filesPLANNER'S PORTFOLIO:


BY Bob Walters

An analytical look at the latest developments in cell phones, PDAs and notebooks

If you’re in the market for a new cell phone, PDA (personal digital assistant) or notebook PC, prepare to spend a lot of time researching your options. More gadgets are available than ever before, and each claims to be the latest and greatest. So what actually is new in day-to-day technology?

Can we really still call them cellular? Can we even call them phones anymore? Even the most basic products have messaging, address books, games and calculators, some have e-mail capabilities and others have full-color screens.

Probably the slickest new phone is the Nokia 9290 Communicator, which flips open to reveal a keyboard and screen where you can actually read e-mail messages and browse Web sites. At around $600, it still is a little pricey and has limited options for service mainly from SkyTel but it does an adequate job of being an all-in-one device for phone, PDA and Web-access purposes. It even has speaker-phone capability of high enough quality to sit on a conference table and allow everyone to hear and be heard.

The providers offering the most features right now are Sprint PCS and T-Mobile, both of which have added services with cameras that can take and send pictures, play intricate games and browse the Internet in color. Of course, there is a cost for these functions, and the phones that offer them tend to be more expensive. Two of the most popular models are the Sony Ericsson T300 and the Motorola T720, both with color LCD screens.

A whole new series of PDAs have or will soon hit the market with more memory, lower prices and dazzling color screens. Dell has announced plans to offer a new handheld called Axim X5; it will be priced under $300, run on the Microsoft Pocket PC operating system and have the equivalent power of models selling for $500 or more. A scaled-down version will be available for $199.

One of the more intriguing new products is the Sidekick from Danger Hiptop, with service provided by T-Mobile. Functioning as a phone and PDA, it also has a screen that slides up to reveal a full QWERTY keyboard and a digital camera. Similar to the RIM Blackberry, it is always looking for a connection and does a decent job of exchanging documents.

Handspring’s Treo 300 uses Sprint’s new CDMA2000 1X network, which currently is being deployed nationwide. The Treo has a flip-up cover revealing a color screen and full keyboard.

One of the hidden costs to look for are the charges for downloads. Some services provide unlimited but slow downloads; faster services and the newer networks can sometimes charge as much as $20 for a megabyte of data.

The talk for the past couple of years has been the Tablet PC a Microsoft version of the failed Newton from Apple. The device finally might have come of age, with several manufacturers introducing their versions and some unique twists of combining a notebook computer with a touch-screen tablet. For example, Fujitsu introduced its ST4000 Tablet PC (priced at around $2,100), which is designed for surfing the Internet, sending and receiving e-mails, and jotting notes. It comes with a docking station and keyboard.

Those who take music with them have several variations on the popular Apple iPOD to choose from. The Odyssey 1000 MP3 player from e.Digital (about $400) stores up to 4,000 songs, includes an FM tuner, and can be used to back up computer files via a USB connection to its 20 GIG hard drive.

Bob Walters, based in Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas, is the founder of Phoenix Solutions and developer of MeetingTrak software.

Back to Current Issue index
M&C Home Page
Current Issue | Events Calendar | Newsline | Incentive News | Meetings Market Report
Editorial Libraries | CVB Links | Reader Survey | Hot Dates | Contact M&C