Tell Me About... Smartphones

Find out more about "smartphones." What are they and what can they do?
Published: May 4, 2006
Author: Michael E, Callahan


by Michael E. Callahan aka Dr. File Finder

This question submitted by Alan Davison, Betty Adamsley, Kirk Wagner,Linda Morrison, John Green, Jackie Sands and numerous others

Since I've been in computers I've gradually seen things get smaller andlighter. If you think a monitor of today is heavy, you should havepicked one up in 1982. Or a printer. Or a modem. Or even a hard disk forthat matter. Yes, things have gotten smaller, lighter, and even smarter.So I guess it was inevitable that the PDA or "personal digitalassistant would give rise to the "smartphone." So, what is a"smartphone?" Lets take a look.

You can't live in the civilized world and not notice that so manypeople are carrying cellular phones. They're everywhere. People talkingas they walk down the aisle in the supermarket, in their cars, as theywalk through the parking lot, even in the dentists office. And it isn'tjust technical people carrying cell phones, it's everyone. Seniorcitizens who won't touch a computer have a cell phone. So, the number ofcellular phones in use has increased dramatically. At the same time, youhad a lot of "techie" types who were also carrying around PDA's,like a Palm or Pocket PC device. Utlimately someone came up with theidea to combine the two. Viola! The "smartphone" was born.

Technically, a "smartphone" is any phone that has data functions like aPDA and also allows you to install other programs on it. I recently gota Verizon XV6700 "smartphone" which is made by Audiovox. It's a greatphone, but it's also an excellent "digital assistant". For example, ithas wireless capability built right in, so I can connect to mynetwork if I need to. In fact, I can connect to any "open" wirelessnetwork and go onto the Internet.

The phone also has Bluetooth capability so my smartphone canconnect to other devices that have Bluetooth. For example, I have aBluetooth headset so I can talk "hands-free" on the phone while I'mdriving. Or while the phone is in my pocket. If you've noticed morepeople walking around seemingly talking to themselves, they may wellhave a Bluetooth headset also.

So, the smartphone allows me to connect to the Internet viawireless and to devices that use Bluetooth, but that's not all. Inany area where I have cellular service I'm constantly connected.No wireless network needed, I can check the Tucows home page to makesure the latest articles went "live" on time. I can also check my email.The email program I use on my XV6700 goes and checks my email just likemy email program does on my main computer. Oh, and it also has a nicekeyboard that slides out from underneath the phone.

I have a one (1) gigabyte mini-SD card in my phone so it also hasstorage. I can install programs to the card, put documents,music, and pictures on it, and lots more. I even have a utility programto "defragment" the card, just like you'd defragment a hard disk.

As you can see, my "smartphone" is pretty much like a computerthat I can make calls on. I can record audio notes to myself and takepictures as well. I've installed software similar to things that I useon my desktop computer. I have a program that constantly updates thenews, weather, stocks, and more. Another program launches programs forme. Yet another shows me the status of free memory, storage memory, andhow much room is on the storage card.

Does everyone need a "smartphone?" I wouldn't think so, but it istruly a sign of the times. As technology helps things to get smaller andmore efficient, manufacturers are getting more and more functions intoone device. Before you even think about getting a smartphone, thinkabout your needs. Do you really need wireless? Bluetooth? Storage?Constant connectivity? Deciding honestly could save you a lot of money.One benefit for someone like me, who used to carry both a PDA and aphone is that now I only have one thing to carry.

Coming May 8th we're going to start having reviews of softwarefor smartphones and PDA's. We'll be covering both the Palm operatingsystem as well as the Pocket PC, now called Windows Mobile. So, if youhave a smartphone or a PDA, stay tuned.

I'd like to thank Alan Davison, Betty Adamsley, Kirk Wagner, andnumerous others for asking this question.

If you have a question on any technology topic that you'd like someoneto tell you about you can submit it via email by clicking HERE You will not receive a reply, but all topics will be considered.

About Michael E, Callahan

Michael E. Callahan, known around the world by the trademarked name Dr. File Finder, is regarded as the world's leading expert on shareware. Dr. File Finder works with software programs and developers full-time, and in the average year he evaluates 10,000 programs. Since 1982 he has evaluated over 250,000 software and hardware products. Mr. Callahan began evaluating software online in 1982 and no one has been at it longer. He currently works doing online PR and marketing for software companies, and is the Senior Content Producer for Butterscotch.Com.

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