Ask the Cell Phone Diva : Your questions answered.
Syncing with your cell
Section Editor Joni Blecher, a.k.a. the Cell Phone Diva, wants to answer all your questions about cell phones, service plans, and wireless connectivity. Send her a question!
A: You're definitely on the right track. As long as you want to use your own ISP, all you need to do is buy a connection kit such as Verizon's Mobile Office Kit ($40). You still can use the kit without upgrading to a data service plan, but you won't get as fast a connection as you would with the company's Express Data network, which enables DSL-worthy speeds. In fact, you'll hit closer to 14.4Kbps, which will feel like a snail's pace.
If you opt for the slower connection, be sure your existing plan can accommodate these changes; every time you use your cell phone to dial in to the Internet, those minutes will be deducted from your bucket of calling-plan minutes.
Outlook on the go
A: This is a myth worth dispelling. Truth be told, just about any phone can sync with your Contacts and Calendar data in Outlook. There are a ton of third-party solutions (such as FutureDial) available, and most carriers support at least one such application for just about all the phones they offer. Of course, there are a couple of catches.
For starters, much of the current software doesn't always sync both Calendar and Contacts. In this situation, you typically have to buy two pieces of software but can use the same syncing cable, which already comes in the package. If this sounds like a scam, it is--to a degree. But to be fair, more and more packages are becoming available that will sync with both Contacts and Calendar.
Second--and this is key--just because you purchase the apps, it doesn't mean all your Outlook info will make it to the phone. For example, if you use Motorola's Mobile Tools syncing software with the company's V series of phones, the handset's calendar doesn't support all fields (such as Notes and Location) available in Outlook. Thus, data from those fields will never make it to the phone.
Finally, if you use a Nokia phone with some sort of wireless connectivity (Bluetooth or IR), you can sync Contacts and Calendar appointments for free. Just download the company's PC Suite software from its Web site, make a wireless connection, and start syncing.
A: As long as you have a Bluetooth-enabled phone, this isn't too difficult. But if you'd like to use your own ISP, your data speeds will be slow (about 14.4Kbps). For faster speeds, you'll want to get a data plan from your service provider, which can provide connection speeds around 56Kbps. Most current Bluetooth-enabled phones support GPRS data networks, which typically clock in with speeds in the 56K arena. While we'll see faster rates with network upgrades in the future, they're still a couple of years away.
A new cell phone service from MusiKube offers consumers a music identification feature. The company's new audio recognition service lets you find out the name of a song simply by dialing a toll-free number and holding your mobile near the music for 10 seconds. Once a song has been identified through the service, you'll be able to open links, hear song samples, receive recommendations, and of course, buy related products, such as ring tones.
This isn't a bad idea, but this type of music identification service is already available via satellite radio and companies such as Virgin Mobile. The bonus here is the ability to purchase ring tones, but it seems as if more and more songs are turned into ring tones and made available for download every day. And as phones pack more memory and the ability to turn MP3 files into ring tones for free, I have to ask if this service too little, too late.
Bonjour, can you hear me now?
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