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The Little Phone that Could

Mobile phones are everywhere you look and everybody wants to talk about the features that their phone has. But do you really need all these new features? That of course is a question that only you can answer. However, there is one type of phone that I think the geek about town (or even the person who just wants to be super-organized) must not be seen without – the PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) and mobile combinations. A couple of years ago (a little less later in Sri Lanka …) the PDA was actually the device to have – it would contain your address book, your phone numbers, your to-do list, your book collection … basically all those little bits of information that people used to jot down on tiny pieces of paper and then forget till the shirt went in the wash and they actually needed the information. The PDA was a boon to those who couldn’t keep track of all those little bits of paper – it would even remind you of appointments and that hard to remember birthday of your third or fourth girlfriend or boyfriend.

Then came the PDA and mobile combo devices. Now, not only could you have your phone numbers stored in your electronic gadget, but you could instantly call any person by highlighting their name in the address book and call them. So what you say, even my two year old Nokia can do that! But the combined devices are capable of far more than that – they allow you to jot down notes in your own handwriting and have the handwriting recognized and stored in the device. Some even have built-in cameras so that you can take a picture of a friend, attach the picture to their address book entry in your phone and then have the picture show up on the screen when your friend calls you. But I’m getting ahead of myself, let me first get to the actual phone that I’m going to talk about.

Recently, many phone makers have been coming out with the combination PDA and phone devices – the Treo, the Nokia 7650 and so on. But as far as I’m concerned, at the moment, the leader of the pack is the Sony Ericsson P800. Sony Ericsson has had a few phones out on the market but has always seemed to have been in the shadow of Nokia. I think the P800 kind of brings the Sony Ericsson brand out into the lime light. The phone has a fairy large display screen at 40 x 60 mm and since the screen is touch sensitive, you can simply tap on it with the included stylus to select menu options or to carry out certain tasks like reading messages or answering an incoming call and at around 160g, it’s not too heavy either. Of course, when you have phones at around half that weight, you might think twice about the weight, but what you have to understand is that the phone comes with a built-in digital camera and also has a slot for a memory stick which allows you to increase the storage capacity of the phone.

But enough of the dry as dust details I hear you say, what can the phone actually do that makes it so special? Well apart from the fact that it allows you to take pictures, store them and even edit them on your phone itself, it also has full Internet connectivity. It allows you to browse the web in glorious HTML – images and all … unlike the fairly limited WAP browsers that most Internet capable phones still provide. This means that you don’t have to be limited to just sites that have a WAP capable page, you can browse any site on the Internet using the P800. In addition to that, the P800 is fully message enabled – whether it is e-mail, SMS or MMS, the P800 can handle all of it (as long as you have a GPRS connection that is – at least for e-mail and MMS).

Not only that, since you can install new applications on to the phone, you can actually extend the capabilities of the phone. You can install an instant messaging tool that works with ICQ, AIM, MSN Messenger or Yahoo Messenger and be in contact with all your friends right from the phone. I found this to be actually cheaper than being connected via dial-up through my land line since you only pay for the data that is transferred on the cellular connection when you use GPRS. You can also get applications for the P800 that do a variety of tasks – from keeping track of your book or DVD collection to keeping track of your financial transaction to acting as a remote control for your TV to acting as a mini-GPRS unit based on which cell in the cellular network you are in, the P800 has applications to do it all!

But how much does this little bundle of joy cost? Now there lies the rub – the P800 was retailing for around Rs. 80,000 a few months back here in Sri Lanka but if you have friends in Singapore or Dubai, you might be able to get it for around Rs. 15,000 – Rs. 10,000 less. Of course, the prices might have come down since I last checked too … but if you do have the money to spend and are crazy about gadgets, the P800 is not a bad toy to have :)
Copyright © 2005-2008 Fahim Farook