Ten Cool Things You Can do With a Mobile Phone

It's no secret that mobile phones can do more and more things besides making phone calls and playing those cutesy but increasingly annoying ring tones.

New and rapidly expanding cellular communications technology, combined with design advances, have turned some mobile phones into mini-computers capable of pretty amazing feats. As a shopping guide, or to help you use what you may already have, here's my list of 10 cool things you can do on your cell phone:

1 ID that song: Ever been driving around and heard a song on the radio and wonder who it's by and what its title is? Cingular, Verizon Wireless and other providers have special song ID features. You dial a code number, hold the phone to the speaker for a few seconds and within moments you'll see the artist, title and album appear.

2 Have your phone wake you with music: Forget buzzes and beeps. With the new Chocolate phone by LG, you can set your music as an alarm. The Chocolate also features a customizable audio equalizer, so when you're listening to rock music you can set a rock audio effect.

3 Text message a landline phone: Several companies now offer text to landline messaging. From your cell phone, you can send a text message to any landline phone just as you are used to doing with mobile. Some companies charge the sender 25 cents per message but this is a very cool feature. Your text message is converted into a recorded voice message that is played back for the recipient, who can reply to your cell from the landline.

4 Scan in a business card: On certain phone models like the LG VX9800, you can take a picture of a business card and have the contents transferred to your phone's address book.

5 Have your text messages read back to you: Several wireless phones have a text-to-speech feature that will read text messages to you. There is also a $28 application called Vemail Voice Email 2.0 (http://www.nch.com.au/vemail/index.html) that enables you to read e-mail and easily reply by speaking.

6 Hear turn-by-turn directions: Verizon Wireless offers something called VZ Navigator that turns your cell phone into a navigation assistant. Lots of providers have add-on devices that do this but this is all self-contained on eight of Verizon's most popular phones. Type in an address and it gives you audible instructions on how to get there. It also has a database that helps find ATMs, gas stations, restaurants, grocery stores, banks and more. It costs $9.95 a month or $2.99 if you only need it for a day.

7 Print pictures: As cameras in cell phones get better and better, this feature really helps. Some phones like the Samsung SCH-a990 let you print photos directly from your phone to a Bluetooth-enabled printer.

8 Watch a movie: This may be the coolest trick of them all. Using a $27.95 application called DVD to Pocket PC

(http://www.makayama.com/dvdtopocketpc.html) you can copy full-length movies from a DVD onto a memory card on your phone. The quality is really quite good. A 1GB memory card can hold a dozen or so movies.

9 Multitask during meetings: Both the new Palm Treo 700w and 700p smartphones have a nifty feature that lets you ignore a call and quickly compose a text message such as "Busy in a meeting" or "Can't talk right now" by selecting the "Ignore with text" option from the incoming call screen.

10 Don't be in the dark: Use your cell phone as a flashlight. Turn on the screen to give you enough illumination to put your key in a lock. Some phones like the Audiovox CDM 8940 have a camera flash that can be turned on as a steady light for 10, 15 or 30 seconds.

About the author:Mike Wendland is a nationally syndicated technology reporter and the publisher of the Tech Tips Today blog.



Copyright 2006 Wilson's Electronics