You might remember when I wrote about my experiences with PDA devices and my eventual conversion to the “PDAs are useful” point of view about two years ago (March 18, 2005, "PDAs: To Buy or Not To Buy," InstantDoc ID 45765). I've continued to use my Dell Axim 50v PDA daily.

To reduce the number of gadgets I carry, many readers have suggested that I switch to a combination cell phone/PDA device that runs Windows Mobile. But I'm put off by the compromise I'd have to make in the phone versus PDA form factor (the need for sleek portability versus having enough keyboard space), the lack of support for Secure Digital (SD) memory, and, of course, the hefty price tag.

However, when I needed a new cell phone recently, I decided to consider a Windows Smartphone. (Although I've used a Research in Motion BlackBerry in the past, I’ve never found the device compelling.) Armed with my basic criteria--that the device be a Windows Smartphone, that it handle email well, and, of course, that it function well as a cell phone--I went to the store. I ended up with a Samsung BlackJack.

Surprisingly, the phone is fairly simple to use because the interface is organized like a Windows device. The software gives me easy access to my Microsoft Exchange and POP email accounts and to the Internet via the Cingular High-Speed Digital Packet Access (HSDPA) network. The document viewer in the software lets me read .doc and .pdf files without having to go to a regular computer. Using a Bluetooth headset with the BlackJack is a simple matter of pairing one of my existing headsets with the device. However, to take full advantage of the BlackJack’s features, which include Windows Media Player and support for microSD storage, I picked up a set of stereo Bluetooth headphones, which let me listen to music and make phone calls hands-free. By using the SD adapter that came with the 2GB microSD card I can easily transfer files between the phone, my notebook, and my PDA. The phone uses Microsoft ActiveSync to connect and synchronize with desktop data, just as any Windows Mobile device does. I haven’t tried setting the BlackJack up with Windows Mobile Device Center for Vista yet, but that’s on the to-do list for next week. The additional email access Windows Mobile Device Center provides means I won’t have to make a special trip to check my email as long as I’m in range of Cingular’s 3G or EDGE networks, which cover most of my travel area.

This Windows Smartphone works well for me. However, other options might function better for you. The key is finding one that fits the way you work.

Tip –

I’ve gotten reports from some users of Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.0 (IE 7) that when they go to the Advanced tab when configuring Internet Options (Tools, Internet Options, Advanced), Settings options are missing. This problem is caused by a missing or corrupted registry subkey at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\AdvancedOptions. To fix the problem, take the following steps:

1. Go to Start, All Programs, Accessories, Command Prompt, and open a command prompt window.
2. Enter the command
regsvr32 /n /I /s inetcpl.cpl
3. Close the command prompt window