Cell Phones and Handheld Electronics

It's a handheld world

As 21st Century gadgets go, cell phones are taking over the world. The phone's eminence was long prophesized by the most famous fictional gadget in TV history, the Shoe Phone used by agent 86 on the 60s show, Get Smart:

Operator: "You have dialed incorrectly. Give me your name and address and your dime will be refunded."
Smart: "Operator, I'm calling from my shoe!"
Operator: "What is the number of your shoe?"
Smart: "It's an unlisted shoe, Operator!"

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The technology behind the voice telephone is so ubiquitous today that the Shoe Phone would be a simple matter were there a market for such a gadget. But today's phones double and triple as much more than a shoe.

The cell phone started off as simply a mobile voice communications device, allowing its user to take the handset with them anywhere within range of a compatible telephone network, or cell. The cell phone user can then dial a phone number directly on the handset's keypad. Radio waves transmitted from the handset are received by the network to conduct a conventional telephone circuit switch to the other party's telephone.

Modern cell phones that can take advantage of wireless data networks can dial through packet switching over internet access and WAP (Wireless Access Protocol) services. Many of the cell phones today can take advantage of GSM and GPMS networks for access to wireless voice and data networks but require subscriptions for the appropriate data types used by the handset you own.

Today's cell phones aspire to so much more than voice communication. Culminating in the Smartphone, cell phones today double as mobile computing devices. They can act as palm-sized personal organizers, run business applications like Windows Mobile Office Suite or as a SMTP/POP3 email client that can send and receive email from anywhere using your home or business email account. PDA devices that double as complete wireless communication devices include the Blackberry, Palm Treo and a variety of Smartphones by the likes of Nokia and other leading cell phone manufacturers.

Some mobile phones have added micro hard drives, greatly increasing the storage capacity. Samsung's SPH-V5400 includes 1.5 G of storage on a cell phone, and other phones have already topped 4G. The capacity for a hard drive inside a cell phone far exceeds that of SD and Compact Flash cards, so it's a logical step toward making today's Smartphones into multi-media devices.

Most phones have had full-color displays and even mini-cameras built right in. The ability to view photos and play back musical ring tones is a well-established feat for the cell phones of yesterday. Smartphones armed with built-in hard drives are now fully functional media devices that can store and play back movies on screens that feature resolutions up to 320x240.

Cell phones are more than just a communications device with PDA functionality. They're a fashion statement, aimed squarely at the young consumer. The overwhelming variety of technical possibilities for cell phones is only outdone by the variety of styles and accessories. Cell phone manufacturers' sights are set firmly on the hip young demographic that made the MP3 market so successful. Watch out, iPod!

Still impressed by a tiny box that only plays MP3s and requires a wire to communicate with your PC?

Try this on for size! Imagine a cell phone with a 4Gig hard drive and expansion slot for removable 1Gig memory cards. That will let you send/receive emails, communicates with networks wirelessly using Bluetooth technology and will let you download MP3s directly from the internet from virtually anywhere. You'd be describing the latest in Smartphone designs available today such as the Nokia 6680. With cell phones destined to take over the MP3 as they have already conquered the PDA, don't be surprised if your next pair of athletic shoes comes tri-band GSM/GPMS ready.