PDAs open new world for people on the go

Wednesday, March 29th, 2006

Marc Saltzman

As a communications consultant and executive coach, Simon Atkins is in demand — and on the move.

So, the president of Socratic Communications, who serves clients in the Toronto area, relies on a pocket-sized e-mail device so he can stay in touch while out of the office.

“In the business I’m in, it’s critical that I’m accessible, especially to journalists who may be on deadline” explains Atkins. “It’s my conduit for doing business, and staying connected and productive.”

Atkins relies on the Palm Treo 650 hand-held “as it seamlessly integrates with my Apple computer [and it] can also play music and video files.”

“And I’m a recent convert to the game Sudoku” Atkins says with a smile.

Products such as Atkins’s beloved Treo and the wildly popular BlackBerry devices from Waterloo, Ont.-based Research in Motion, have become indispensable business tools capable of “push e-mail.” That is, instead of logging onto the Internet to “pull” e-mail down to the handset, “push e-mail” devices let users know when a new e-mail has arrived in real-time via a chime or vibration. You can then read the note and decide to type a response on the fly.

Whether it’s for business or pleasure or a bit of both, the following are a few of the popular “push e-mail” solutions available today:

– BlackBerry 7130e ($99 for a three-year service plan with Bell Mobility or Telus Mobility; www.rim.com)

Unlike the wider BlackBerry handsets on the market, the candy bar-sized 7130e is a popular pick among mobile executives for its slim form. The trade-off, however, is the alphanumeric buttons instead of the QWERTY keyboard, but Research in Motion’s proprietary SureType technology is super smart as it completes your words for you. This CDMA-based handset also runs on the EVDO network for fast download speeds. It’s also a phone and speakerphone, and supports Bluetooth peripherals.

– Palm Treo 650 ($299 to $349 for a three-year plan with Bell Mobility, Rogers Wireless or Telus Mobility; www.palm.com)

Consider it the digital Swiss Army Knife of mobile gadgets. This popular handset with backlight thumb keyboard offers push e-mail, web surfing, games, text-messaging and cellphone functionality. It also includes a digital camera, MP3 player and support for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook files. It’s also fully customizable: It’s a Palm O/S-based PDA (personal digital assistant), so users can tweak the look and functionality of the device with thousands of free downloads.

– UTStarcom PPC 6700 ($399 for a three-year contract with Telus Mobility; www.utstar.com)

It’s a bit of a mouthful, but the UTStarcom PPC6700 is one souped-up gadget with a lot under the hood. For one, it’s the first Pocket PC-based handset in Canada with the brand new Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0 operating system. It also operates on Telus Mobility’s high-speed wireless CDMA 1xEVDO network for fast downloads (400 to 700 kilobits a second), although this feature is only available in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Montreal. Bundled apps, such as Microsoft Office PowerPoint Mobile, Excel Mobile, Word Mobile and Internet Explorer Mobile make this pocket-sized device with slide-out keyboard feel more like a full PC than a smartphone. Bell Mobility customers may want to consider the Audiovox PPC 6600 ($599 with a three-year contract; www.audiovox.com).

© The Vancouver Sun 2006

Comments are closed.