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Smartphone Review

They may be little, but these smartphones pack plenty of features.

Sometimes a regular cell phone just isn't good enough. Many highly mobile entrepreneurs have sworn off carrying laptops or loading up their pockets with PDAs, phones and other mobile devices. They're putting their business into smartphones--not just any smartphones, but ones that can take advantage of the new high-speed networks rolling out across the nation. These versatile tools can take you from surfing the web over Wi-Fi to checking your e-mail on the go to viewing streaming video in the heart of downtown Los Angeles.

If you like your current service provider, you'll want to find a phone that's good to go with your network. If you have Verizon and are within the service area of its high-speed EV-DO network, look into a phone like the V by LG. It comes equipped with a built-in qwerty keyboard to make e-mailing easier and an MP3 player to keep you entertained. You can also hook into Verizon's VCast streaming video service to keep up on the latest news and weather everywhere you go.

If you're looking for a full-fledged PDA solution as well as cellular service, try out either a Palm OS or Windows Mobile smartphone. The Hewlett-Packard iPAQ hw6940 Mobile Messenger runs Windows Mobile and is handily equipped with both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It's a good bet if you're looking for maximum computing muscle in a smartphone. Palm users can check into a device like the popular Palm Treo 650, which also gives you flexibility in choosing your service provider--the Treo 650 works with Cingular, Sprint or Verizon.

The Nokia E61 targets business users who can't live without mobile e-mail. The Wi-Fi- and Bluetooth- enabled phone comes with a small qwerty keyboard and supports a variety of e-mail solutions, including BlackBerry Connect, Good Technology's GoodLink, Nokia Business Center and Visto Mobile.

When it comes to mobile e-mail, RIM has certainly been at it for a long time. Its BlackBerry 7130e works with EV-DO networks and has an unusual combined number keypad/qwerty keyboard design. You'll have to try it out to see if you like it. BlackBerry users who want to move up to EV-DO speeds can look at upgrading to the 7130e.

On the other end of the spectrum, you'll find the Motorola SLVR L7. It's not necessarily designed to handle heavy-duty business applications, but it does come with Bluetooth, iTunes, and a slim, hip 3.5-ounce design.

The above manufacturers aren't the only ones with smartphone offerings. Also be sure to check into Audiovox, Samsungand Sony Ericsson. Look for some smartphone advances to reach the market over the next couple of years. Samsung, for example, has already introduced a Windows Mobile smartphone with an 8GB hard drive and a 2 megapixel camera to the European market. That should give you something to think about for your next phone upgrade a year or two down the road.

Remember, street prices can vary with the type of service contract you sign, what rebates are available at the time and whether you're due for a special upgrade offer. Let your business needs dictate which smartphone you choose. Does it need to work with a certain type of e-mail service? Do you need Wi-Fi or Bluetooth capabilities? Do you want a familiar Windows computing environment? Do you need a qwerty keyboard for thumb typing? Answering these questions will help you narrow down the many options. Choose wisely, and you may even be able to leave your laptop back at the office without sacrificing productivity on the go.

Shopping List Say hello to one of these multifunctional, compact smartphones--and kiss your bulky laptop goodbye.
MANUFACTURER/
MODEL
CONTACT OS FEATURES STREET PRICE
Hewlett-Packard
iPAQ hw6940 Mobile Messenger
(800) HP-INVENT,
www.hp.com
Windows Mobile 5.0 6.33 ounces, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, EDGE network, GPS receiver Not available at press time
LG
V
(800) 793-8896,
www.lgusa.com
N/A 5.19 ounces, Bluetooth, qwerty keyboard, EV-DO network, MP3 player $200
Motorola
SLVR L7
(800) BUY-MOTO,
www.motorola.com
N/A 3.5 ounces, Bluetooth, iTunes software, ultrathin design $199 with contract
Nokia
E61
(888) 256-2098,
www.nokiausa.com
Symbian 5.1 ounces, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, qwerty keyboard Not available at press time
Palm
Treo 650
(800) 881-7256,
www.palm.com
Palm 6.3 ounces, Bluetooth, qwerty keyboard $299
Rim
BlackBerry 7130e
www.blackberry.com BlackBerry 4.7 ounces, EV-DO, SureType keyboard $299 with contract

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This article was originally published in the July 2006 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Small Packages.

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