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Selecting A Mobile Device

A Computer in Your Hand

Carrying around an address book and planner is becoming a thing of the past. With new smartphone developments, you can manage your contacts and schedule, use e-mail, and even listen to music. Smartphones, originally called "Palm Pilots" and PDAs, previously were used just for retrieving basic information. Today, using tablets could possibly replace the need to carry a laptop computer. Modern smartphones and tablets can play music, games, videos, write documents, and connect to networks and databases -- nothing short of a desktop computer.

Although newer mobile devices have the processing power of a computer, they still have some limitations. Inputting information is done by handwriting recognition or by a miniature keyboard. Skilled users can input 20 - 30 words per minute, less than half the speed of a good typist on a full-size keyboard. Tablets with a high-def color screen tend to run through battery life faster. Finally, because the small screen size the number of program options that can be displayed, the programs available arenít as advanced because the user doesnít have as much control over the program.

Despite these limitations, the market for smartphones and their apps is continuing to expand. Students, doctors, and business professionals are increasingly relying on mobile devices for computing on the go. Common smartphone applications include spreadsheet, word processing, database, financial management, and games. Mobile Devices synchronize files with your computer so that you can take your important information with you and update it when needed.

What to Look For

The two basic types of mobile devices are Android and Apple's iPod/iPad. Microsoft is a latecomer to the market with Windows 8 RT tablets, which replace the older Windows Mobile and Windows CE systems. Android is built on a Google platform and derived from Linux. It has the largest user base and has the most apps available. The iPod and iPad offers a more refined user experience although there are less apps available and the system is more locked down in comparison with Android.

When purchasing a mobile device, make sure that the apps you plan to use are compatible with the programs on your computer and how you will transfer data. Test out different models, with keyboard and with handwriting recognition, to see which one fits your preferences best. Also consider which application you will be using most. If you plan on using your mobile device primarily for e-mail, get a PDA with a good keyboard and good battery life. If you plan on taking digital photos, your main concern should be the quality of the digital camera and the screen.

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