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Cell Phones.

By Team Digit | Published 01 Dec 2006 14:44 IST
Cell Phones.
Cell phones today have so many functions, shopping for one is a formidable task. The sheer numbers of phones lining some streets in cities like Mumbai and Delhi doesn't help either!

Myths And Realities
Charge the battery only when it's completely drained: Cell phones today use lithium-ion batteries, so one need not wait till the battery discharges completely. This idea is true only with NiMH batteries, which are no longer used.

Signal booster stickers help in reducing dropped calls: If boosting a signal was so simple, why didn't the manufacturer incorporate a signal booster in the first place? Don't believe this petty claim! Your cell phone manual will probably have instructions on how to hold the phone so as to avoid signal interference.

It's dangerous to use cell phones in or near petrol pumps: Quite true. Radiation such as those emitted by a cell phone can at times ignite flammable chemicals.

Questions To Ask
What are the types of cell phones?
From a design perspective, candy bar, clamshell (flip-open) and sliders are the most common. On the price front, budget, mid-range, smartphone and PDA-phone are the categories.

Any phone below Rs 5,000 fits the budget category: rudimentary features such as a colour display, SMS, a 500-odd contact list, alarm clock, and a calculator are part of the package.

Mid-range phones fall in the 5-15K range. They include all the basic features and also come with an MP3 player, a PIM, a better digital camera, and more.

Smartphones are nearly identical to mid-range phones, but offer support for installing third-party applications, games, etc. and also have excellent PC synchronising options.

PDA-phones are for on-the-move folks who demand instant access to data and seamless synchronisation with their PCs-PIM functionality is key, and so is the ability to input data faster.

What should I look for in a cell phone for playing music?
Check how many file formats the MP3 player supports. Second, check the amount of memory the phone offers, and whether it has an option to increase the capacity. Third, check the type of memory it supports: MMC and SD cards are cheaper than a Sony Memory Stick.

Can I buy a cell phone instead of a digital camera for taking photos?

Most cell phones are equipped with VGA or 1.3 megapixel (MP) cameras. VGA is too low for good-quality photos, and 1.3 MP cameras offer just about decent resolution. Phones with 2 MP and above offer good photos, with better colour reproduction and less noise. We're now seeing phones with 3.2 MP cameras, which rival even entry-level digital cameras.

What are the different ways of connecting a cell phone to a PC?
Mid-range phones and above have USB or proprietary ports. In most cases, the cable is optional and expensive. If your phone supports Bluetooth, buying a Bluetooth USB dongle makes for an easy and cheap connection with a PC. Quite a few PDA-phones support Wi-Fi.

Do I need software to connect the phone to a PC?
 Yes. The software is bundled along with the phone on a CD, or can be downloaded for free (in most cases) from the manufacturer's Web site.

What about accessories?
Music lovers should invest in good-quality headphones. A crystal case protects your phone from impact. A desk cradle for a PDA-phone makes life easy; look for one with a charging point for an additional battery.

What To Look For
Inbuilt functions: Look for the following: Directory (the number of contacts that can be stored), messaging (text and MMS), a calculator, games: the ability to install additional games if desired, and some pre-loaded ones, personalised/ custom sounds, an appointment reminder/calendar, auto-redial, voice-activated functions, vibrate mode: built upon with profiles, lock/alarm, integrated stereo FM radio, external volume/ringer control, profiles.

Advanced features:
Look for the following: 1.3 megapixel and above camera for better pictures, a memory card slot-it comes in handy when using the phone as an MP3 player, PC synchronisation-useful when using the phone as a PDA, MP3 player-look for one with features such as equaliser and dedicated buttons for playback, Bluetooth-good for short-range communication between phones, GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) for Internet access, Hands-free headset/speakerphone, voice recorder.

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