Windows Mobile, BlackBerry and Symbian OS are all now accepted door stoppers. These are the technologies that make our phones the mobile communication behemoths they have become.
THE SYSTEMS: One of the most popular and increasingly powerful mobile phone operating systems is Symbian OS. The high point came with the recent launch of the Sony Ericsson P990i, which employs Symbian OS v9.1 and UIQ3 for a user-friendly interface. The Symbian S60 will power the upcoming Nokia Communicator E90.
Palm OS is one of the older operating systems that powered PDA phones but over the years, this has taken a backseat. RIM’s Blackberry is among the most powerful and preferred PDA phones for the push email facility it offers. An entire operating system that supports PDA functions, phone facility and QWERTY keyboard for easy message composition are the highlights
Windows Mobile 5.0 is among the other prevalent PDA operating systems. Microsoft launched this with a view to extending the communication capabilities from a personal computer to a hand-held device. One of it biggest advantages is the easy synchronization with the Microsoft suite of products on a personal computer. Version 6.0 has just been announced, as have phones that will run it. Read on…
THE DEVICES: All that most users need is a robust device that does almost everything their personal computer can and then some more. It should also be compact, long-lasting and reliable. With an increasing number of devices now employing Personal Information Manager(PIM) functions in addition to great communication options, the trend is here to stay. Here are some of the more popular and recommended devices for working on the go:
Sony Ericsson P990i
By far one of the biggest launches in the last six months, the P990i has everything you could ask for in a hand-held device. It runs on Symbian OS 9.1, UIQ 3, offers a full QWERTY keyboard and is even Wi-Fi ready. Moreover, it offers a normal keypad on a flap that makes it easy to use as a phone. The form factor (shape and size) also makes it easily accepted.
The number pad that identifies the device as only a phone makes it easy to place calls and send short messages, but if you want to type out long emails, opening the flip reveals a QWERTY keyboard.
Creating documents and even reading PDFs is easily possible thanks to pre-installed QuickOffice. It also has an expandable memory slot (32MB bundled plus 64MB built-in).
Despite Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, the battery life is reliable. Unfortunately, the phone does not employ Push email and you will need to keep connecting the GPRS to download mails. Still, for style and ease of use, this is a great phone that goes beyond the basics.
The implementation of UIQ 3 makes the phone easy to use. UIQ has evolved and versions 3 and 3.1 make one-handed use easier. Originally, UIQ was best when pen-based (Stylus) input was involved, but now, they work very well with nonpen input phones too. The range of applications included in the P990i thanks to UIQ makes the phone even more suited for business use. And yes, the camera is pretty good too! PRICE: Approx. Rs30,000
Sony Ericsson M600i
A slightly stripped down version of the P990i, some would say, but the M600i is perhaps easier to use and carry around. It doesn’t have Wi-Fi but it has a better keyboard than the P990i, is easier to use and the keys are slightly bigger. Using the same OS and specifications as the P990i, all it lacks is a camera and Wi-Fi. But for almost half the price, you could consider it quite seriously! PRICE: Approx. Rs16,000Other Recommended Devices: Nokia E60, E61, E90 (not available yet) PRICES: Rs15,000-plus.
Some of the best new business phones that have been launched of late employ the Windows Mobile (WM) platform. It’s familiar, offers easy compatibility with your existing tools on the computer and is extremely robust. One of the first phones to employ WM5 and make an impact was the O2 Atom. Unfortunately, it was highly overpriced at almost Rs38,000 when launched.
HP, Motorola, O2, I-mate, Dopod, Samsung and even Palm now use Windows Mobile versions 5.0 and 6.0. WM5 also offers push email but for that, your mail provider (company mail or a private provider) needs to support Microsoft Exchange Server.
I mate has arguably the widest range of mobile devices employing the WM5 platform. The K-Jam is among the best in their line-up employing a sliding QWERTY keyboard and touchscreen functionality.
For the mobile professional, K-JAM offers everything you would be used to on your personal computer. The WM5 platform comes complete with Word for Mobile, Excel for Mobile and PowerPoint for Mobile. With built-in Windows Media Player 10, you can also transfer and enjoy your music and movies seamlessly.
The biggest reason a professional would buy a WM5 phone is for Outlook. WM5 synchronises seamlessly with your computer and can copy settings, address books and emails to the phone. At the moment, WM5 is all set to be replaced with the Windows Mobile 6.0 platform that was announced in January. PRICE: Approx. Rs28,000. Other Recommended Devices: HP iPAQ 514 (non-touchscreen; just announced), Samsung BlackJack, O2 Atom Exec, I-mate SP5 (non-touchscreen).
Motorola Q q9
The Q q9 by Motorola is one of the first to use the Windows Mobile 6.0 edition for smartphones. This means that it will be a nontouchscreen phone but with full QWERTY keyboard and rather large form factor! Announced recently at the 3GSM conference, the q9 builds on the Motorola Q and will offer push mail thanks to WM6. Price will certainly be on the high side at launch, but hang on for a while… Expected launch is post-June. PRICE: Not Available.
The original mobile offices, Blackberrys have built themselves a reputation of being robust travellers. And while there was some criticism of their size with previous models, that has now ceased with the launch of the Pearl 8100.
The Pearl is one of the best cell phones available for business use. Employing the BlackBerry ease of use in push email, it also acts as a fabulous cell phone with PIM functionality. Coupled with a good camera and multimedia features, this is a dream to have. We spent some time with the Pearl on an Airtel network and are happy to report that the push email works like a charm. Reading through long mails and even opening heavy attachments (we opened a 110 KB document) is a breeze.
The form factor further lends itself very well to ease of use. The only gripe we had was the buttons. They were a little hard and too small to use even if you have average size hands. PRICE: Approx. Rs25,000.
Coming Soon: BlackBerry 8800
If BlackBerry is your preferred mode of communication when on the move, it is not necessary to invest in a handset by them. “BlackBerry Connect” that can also be used on Nokia phones gives the same functionality on the latest ‘E’ range of business phones. The Nokia E60, E61 and E70 are already ready to use this and it is also rumoured that the E90 Communicator will offer the same functionality.
And if Nokia is not your choice, there are phones from Dopod (running WM) and Palm OS phones that also work well with the BlackBerry Connect service. It’s perhaps the best marriage of two types of services with WM and BlackBerry.
The bottom line is that while options are aplenty, it depends on the kind of budget you are on and what support (from your server set up) you have to work with while on the move. If emails are a way of life, we would recommend you grab the BlackBerry Pearl. But if you also need more features like word processing and document editing, the Windows Mobile Platform beats the competition hands down. If, however, mobility is the main requirement and costs are restrictive, try the Symbian OSbased phones. They are always within reach.
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