Experienced road warriors know the drill: Dash to the airport, call important customers, board the plane, send e-mails, draft that proposal, get a rental car, check in to your hotel, log on to the Net, sync your PDA, prepare for your 8 a.m. presentation...it's going to be a long night-scratch that, a long week. But as long as you've got the right technology, it seems anything's possible.
You may be jet-lagged, but that doesn't mean the work stops coming. At least when you've got the right tools, you can stay in touch and handle every priority. It doesn't matter if you're out of the office on a sales call or on an extended overnight trip. As long as you've got a working cell phone, a PDA, a laptop, and the other pieces of your mobile arsenal, you won't miss a beat.
Or will you? Some entrepreneurs are so busy jetting around that they forget how important it is to update their tech solutions-leaving them less productive than they'd like. With that thought in mind, Entrepreneur has taken a closer look at the latest trends in tools for mobile professionals. You may not need or want everything here, but at least we can help you evaluate where you are in terms of productivity-and where you need to be.
Worldwide cellular phone handset sales have run at record rates this year, driven largely by catchy new features like color screens, cameras and wireless gaming capabilities. While these characteristics have limited utility for most businesspeople, they help build the phone population and underwrite the increasing reliability and quality, as well as decreasing cost and size, of cell phones. These devices are fast becoming standard equipment for entrepreneurs who want to-or rather, need to-make and receive calls no matter where they are.
|What to Buy and Why|
|Check out the latest cell phones here.|
"You can never underestimate the value of voice communications for the mobile worker," says Fritz Jordan, an analyst with wireless consulting firm MobileTrax in Emeryville, California.
Actually, many of the newer-or, at least, the more widely available-phone features are of considerable value to the business-minded mobile user. "We are seeing a whole lot more functionality moving down-market," says Michael King, principal analyst with research firm Gartner Inc. in San Diego. "A basic phone from a year ago had a little voice functionality, and that was it. Now a basic phone has a 100- to 200-entry phone book and Internet browsing capability."
Some new phones offer a familiar face: Microsoft Windows. Models such as the new Motorola MPx200 run Windows Mobile software and allow you to synchronize Microsoft Outlook calendars and contacts on your PC using a built-in miniature USB connection. Other newly released models are marvels of hardware miniaturization. The Nokia 6800 looks like a cell phone until you unfold it to reveal a full QWERTY keyboard. The 6800, priced at $150 (all prices street) and lower with a service plan, lets you compose, send and receive standard e-mail. Soon, Nokia promises, it will also use the same e-mail protocol as the popular RIM terminals, such as the recently released $450 BlackBerry 7210, which sports a high-resolution color screen.