Keep Talking

Published Date
01 - Jun - 2006
| Last Updated
01 - Jun - 2006
Keep Talking
From it's none too humble days as a 40 kg car add-on to its current barely-there form, the cellular phone has become as much as a part of our lives as a pair of shoes. Twelve years ago, cellular networks were set up in the four metros, and you'd pay Rs 8 per minute for your calls, and Rs 16 during peak hours. You'd make these calls on handsets that we now so affectionately call the "pencil-box" phones. Ah, good times.

Today, the cell phone has become the ultimate convergence device. Play games, listen to music, take photos, record movies, view documents, surf the Net and make phone calls too!

Into the Arcade
If you remember Snake, raise your hands. It was (and still is to some) one of the best things you could do with your phone, and sent the concept of mobile gaming on a wild toboggan ride that's still going. Newer phones came with support for Java and colour screens, enabling wilder, richer games right there in your pocket.

The Sony Ericsson W550i
While it came out as another one in Sony Ericsson's line of Walkman phones, no phone has been as conducive to gaming - not even the pioneer, the Nokia N-Gage QD - as the SE W550i. Turn it horizontally and you have a clear, crisp TFT screen in landscape mode and a button arrangement almost like a dedicated game controller. Its fast processor lets you play 3D games with ease, and the bundled Worms Forts game is extremely addictive, especially with the ability to throw stuff like refrigerators and banana bombs at your opponent.

Getting Down To Business
The days of the PDA are numbered. With smart phones getting ever smarter, we now have cell phones that are veritable powerhouses for the businessman on the go. They have all the necessary features of the PDA - powerful organisers, synchronising contacts and data with your home PC, and all the abilities of a phone on top of that! With a GPRS or EDGE connection, you can now connect your PDA-Phone to the Internet; the world is your office!

The Sony Ericsson P990i
Pick up your jaws; the Sony Ericsson P990i takes mixing business with pleasure to new levels. Running on the Symbian 9.1 operating system and UIQ 3 platform, the phone comes packed with a host of business and entertainment applications. It's capable of holding up to 4 GB of data (or music, or video, if you'd like), and also features Word and Excel editors, and viewers for PowerPoint presentations and PDF files. The flip-lid sports a standard phone keypad on one side; open it, and you reveal a full-fledgedQWERTY keyboard on the underside.

Another nifty feature is that its 2 Megapixel camera also moonlights as a business card scanner, using character recognition to convert the scanned card into text! It's even Wi-Fi enabled so you can connect to the Internet the way you choose - WLAN or GPRS.

Freedom with VoIP
There has been much talk about VoIP (Voice over IP) for a long time. When the concept first hit our ears, we were still on our old dial-up connections putting on pots of coffee every time we waited for a Web site to load, so it sat in the background for a while.

The coming of software such as Skype and Google Talk brought VoIP back into our dictionaries again, and with a bang, too. VoIP has become an important part of businesses and homes, and soon, there came the Skype handsets that could connect you to anyone on the Skype network without even having to turn on your PC.

The iMate PDA2k
Practically a PDA with the incidental ability to make phone calls, the iMate PDA2k will be one of the first cell phones which will feature Skype - you will be able to make phone calls via Skype using its Wi-Fi connection. Imagine the ability to make international calls from your cell phone absolutely free of cost!

The PDA2k runs on Windows Mobile 2003 Pocket PC edition, has 128 MB of RAM and a sizable 3.5 inch touchscreen. There's also a full QWERTY keyboard for text input, just in case handwriting recognition isn't your cup of tea.

IM Fone
Want to convert your cellular phone into a VoIP phone right away? It's simple with this little USB device called the IM Fone. Currently compatible with Skype and Imtel, all you need to do is plug the device into your USB port; it uses Bluetooth to connect to your cell phone and you can now move around within 50 metres around your PC. One of its neatest features is the fact that your cell phone number will be displayed in the caller ID of the person you're calling.

The Big Click
The introduction of cameras in cellular phones has spawned off a whole new community of amateur photographers (and amateur pornographers, as we all know so well by now). Social issues aside, the camera phone has become incredibly popular, and manufacturers are always on a quest to make a better phone.

At CeBIT 2006, Samsung unveiled its B600, a phone that takes pictures at a massive 10 Megapixels. To put that into perspective, even professional photographers still swear by their 8 Megapixel digital SLR cameras! Of course, this still won't match up to a 10 Megapixel digital camera due to the characteristics of its lens, but it'll no doubt make your current phone's camera feel pretty silly.

More Power!
One of the biggest annoyances that we face with cell phones today is battery life. Activities like playing music, recording video and general tinkering take a lot of juice out of your handset, which is why mobile phone manufacturers are looking into new ways to power up the devices. The most promising idea is the fuel cell.

Fuel cells work much like batteries-Hydrogen and Oxygen combine in an electrochemical reaction to create water and energy. Hydrogen fuel cells are favoured more by car manufacturers-our gadgets will see the Direct Methanol Fuel Cell (DMFC). It works by mixing methanol with air and water to produce electrical power. The biggest advantage is that one can get an instant recharge by just plugging in a fuel cell recharger. It's been pitched as the alternative to the standard battery for a long time now; the only argument against them now is that they're too big and bulky.

Right now, fuel cells are starting to find their place as chargers on the go. Just plug them into your current cell phone for a hearty power boost. NTT DoCoMo, Japan's biggest mobile service provider, has showcased a prototype charger that should be commercially available by 2007. Around a year after that, we shall see fuel cells replacing the cell phone battery altogether. They'll last at least 10 times longer than current batteries, and to recharge would be to just replace the water in the cell! 

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