Solo Newsletter

Volume 12, no. 3

Making a Choice—Cell Phone or Converged Device?

By Jeffrey Allen

Writing about choosing between single-purpose cell phones and converged devices in today’s world seems almost silly. Very few cell phones are simple telephones any longer. The ability to include more and more features in a package of diminishing size has in­duced those who design and build cell phones to add more and more features in the hope of attracting the volume of sales that will allow them to garner a larger share of the market.

Most cell phones include calendar and contacts. Most can play games. Many can access the Internet and allow some level of browsing. More and more of the phones have built-in digital cameras; some let you take and view videos. MP3 player functionality has become common.

Phones grew memory card slots, creating greater storage capacity. Recently released phones have the ability to receive and play television and video content. Phones can also serve as audio recorders. Imagine that! You can take a picture, dictate a letter, watch TV programs, check your calendar, look up an address, shop online, and take notes on the same device; and, as if that was not enough, you can even make a phone call on it!

We will soon reach the point where you cannot even find single-purpose phones. The real question is not a choice between a single-purpose telephone and a multi-function converged device. Instead, the question has become what set of functions do you want your phone to provide?

Each of us will have different feature sets that we favor. Converged de­vices have historically represented compromises. As we get new features, they may not be as strong as they would be in separate devices. As time goes on, however, they get stronger and better. Some of my recommendations:

1. If you want a device primarily for email and phone, look at the RIM (Blackberry) 8700.

2. If you want email and a camera, audio re­corder, and MP3 player, look to the Treo 650 (the Treo’s email capabilities will soon compare more favorably to the Black­berry as push technology similar to that used by the Blackberry comes online for the Treo).

3. If you want a device that primarily works as a phone but also has still and video camera features and Internet access, look at the Motorola RAZR and SLVR phones, in particular the RAZR V3i.

4. Another phone to watch for in the near future, the Motorola Q phone, promises to take on the Blackberry and Treo phones.


Jeffrey Allen has a general practice in Oakland, California, and is editor of the GPSOLO Tech­nology & Practice Guide and of the Technology eReport. He can be reached at


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