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Smartphones and U

State of TechnologySo you just turned on that brand new Blackberry.  Great!  Unfortunately, you’re probably not using it to its full potential.

Smartphones, the generic term for phones with more advanced capabilities, are becoming very popular among college students.  Below are a few ideas on how to best use your devices.

In college, more than ever, I find myself waiting for and receiving many important e-mails.  Unfortunately, while I leave Outlook running 24/7 in the background in my computer, I still can’t check as often as I would like.  Luckily, all modern smartphones have powerful e-mail clients.  Blackberry devices, in particular, became famous for their instantaneous “push” e-mail delivery.  While the set-up process is different for each type of phone, it is never very hard, and one should have their device checking their e-mail preferably every 15 minutes or so (most devices allow you to choose the interval).  And yes, Penn State e-mail accounts can be checked.

We have info on how to set up your calendar and multimedia after the jump.

One of the most powerful features on many smartphones is the calendar.  Unfortunately, many college students don’t really understand what they can do with it.  My personal preference is to put my entire class schedule into Outlook and sync that with my Windows Mobile phone.  Using the “Recurrence” option in Outlook makes this a relatively simple process.  It allows me to easily add in club events and other activities, and see when I will have free time and when things conflict.  Windows Mobile devices will sync natively with Outlook through ActiveSync (XP) or Windows Mobile Device Center (Vista).

For Blackberries, using the Blackberry Desktop software allows for easy syncing with Outlook. For Macs and Blackberries, in order to sync, you must download PocketMac for Blackberry. From that interface, you can sync with iCal and many other calendar applications with ease. The iPhone will also sync via iTunes, although early G1 adopters will have to use Google Calendar.

iPhone users probably don’t need this section, but many other smartphone users may not realize that their phones contain powerful multimedia playback abilities, for both music and video.  As cool as carrying around an iPod may be, its still an additional device to keep in your pocket and potentially lose.   For storage, many phones support the popular SD format, usually taking miniSD or microSD cards.  A 2 GB microSD card can be bought for as low as $2 on Amazon, and a 4 GB microSD card can be found for as low as $5.  Of course, make sure to check exactly what your phone accepts (some, like iPhones offer no external storage).  From there you can typically just drag-and-drop your music onto the storage card, but some media players may require it to be in certain locations. For Macs and Blackberries, once again, PocketMac is necessary. The interface is very easy to deal with. It mostly involves dragging and dropping, as is the Mac custom.

Many smartphones now support the use of wireless headphones over Bluetooth (the exact profile is called A2DP, make sure your phone supports it!).  To me, this is the coolest feature of my phone, as it means I never have to worry about cables when I am walking to class.  The model I use is the Motorola HT820, which costs about $40.  Of course there are many other options as well.

If you have any questions at all, leave a comment!  I am most familiar with Windows Mobile (what my personal cell phone uses), but I can definitely try my best to help you out with any model.

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About the Author


Robert is a level 80 wizard who enjoys watching Korean Starcraft matches. He also likes to play the guitar and read about technology.

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