Thanks to the miracle of microelectronics, we have now reached the age of the business office in the palm of your hand. This is great news for the empowerment of employees on the go and independent professionals. No longer are you tethered to a desk in a building just to have your necessary tools available. No longer do you have to lug a ton of equipment to gain mobility. Well, most of us sure don’t.
The key to all this freedom of movement is the smartphone. The smartphone takes a cell phone and adds a computer. They each have their own wireless networks, but can work in concert to help you get your job done.
Your voice connection is through the cell phone. Many business people add a Bluetooth headset to eliminate the weight of holding the phone to their ear, but also so that they can see the screen and use the apps while they are talking.
Here’s a point to consider when you select your phone and carrier. Some 3G smartphones can operate as cell phones and computers simultaneously. The iPhone 3GS is advertised as having this capability. Some other phones on the AT&T network can do this too if they have UMTS/HSDPA capability. But there are other phones and networks can only work in one mode at a time. If you need to actively search the web or enter data as you are talking, make sure that your device can do voice and data at the same time.
What makes a cellphone a computer is specialized software and a broadband connection. Cellular broadband is also called 3G or third generation. Connection speeds similar to basic DSL services are typical. On the small screen, Web pages should load quickly and give you that interactivity you are used to on a larger computer. Some smartphones have virtual keyboards that appear on the touchscreen. Others have hidden QWERTY keyboards that slide out so you’ll have that familiar tactile feedback.
Another thing to note with cellular broadband is that 3G coverage areas are often smaller than voice service areas. If you range outside of the 3G footprint, you’ll still have a data connection but the speed will slow way down. Most carriers have decent 3G coverage in metropolitan areas. It’s when you get out of town that 3G is harder to find. Check coverage maps for the areas where you tend to spend the majority of your time to make sure you have solid network signals and broadband data speeds.
WiFi Internet is even faster than 3G. If you really want blazing fast Web access, get a phone that supports both the carrier’s 3G network and WiFi b/g networks. That way you can park at a coffee shop, enjoy a cup of java and a muffin, and get lots done. Just be sure to find a quiet corner and talk softly if you are going to be on the phone a lot.
There are a couple of accessory services that can enhance your smartphone office. A low cost toll free number gives you a professional image and encourages prospects and clients to call you from wherever they happen to be. The Kall8 toll free service also sends you voice mail and FAX messages as email attachments. You can change the ring-to number from your cell to your home or office phone if desired. That way people have only a single number to remember to get in touch with you.
If you make overseas calls, you know that calling from a cellphone is either very expensive or impossible. But add the Tel3 international dial-around service and you can call from the US to just about anywhere on Earth for just pennies a minute. Now your smartphone becomes an international business phone. If you are going overseas, be sure to get a smartphone that has quad band GSM capability so it will work on foreign networks. A OneSimCard international SIM card can make those calls from outside the country a lot less expensive that they would otherwise be.
If you can make all of this work, you can pack really light for those trips away from the home office. You entire tool set tucks into a shirt or jacket pocket. Checked luggage? What’s that?