In the era of growing concerns about the erosion of personal time, a recent study found that more than 70 percent of mobile business people expect mobile e-mail to "liberate" them. The study, by RONIN Corp., a Princeton, N.J. market research firm, found that mobile e-mail could actually provide workers with more control over their schedule while improving productivity for their employers.
The call for more mobility in e-mail is being answered by U.S. telecom companies. The latest versions of the Blackberry, Treo, and Moto are fighting to combine that mobile e-mail with cell phone service.
Here are some of the most handy models and sportiest designs for your mobile e-mail:
Microsoft Windows Mobile 2003 OS; Bluetooth; speakerphone; not great e-mail. What's cool: VGA camera with video; buttons for a person with small hands. $199
Bluetooth, EDGE support, and a speakerphone. Good speakers, and delivers e-mail in real time. Keyboard follows the QWERTY standard typewriter format, takes a little getting used to something so logical. The "SureType technology" where it guesses what word you want can be daunting for the uninitiated. What's cool: Excellent phone and mobile e-mailer, works where traditional cell phones don't. $199
Or Moto Q as its known. Can't use its Bluetooth as a wireless modem. What's cool: Sports a QWERTY keyboard, Bluetooth, a speakerphone, a 1.3-megapixel camera, and solid call quality. $199.99
QWERTY keyboard; integrated camera; video recording and playback; screen is on the dark side. What's cool: Bluetooth; EDGE support; $225.00
Nokia 6230 (Cingular Wireless)
Bluetooth and Infrared support; VGA camera; video recorder and player; expandable memory; speakerphone. What's cool: MP3 player; FM tuner; $245.00
Palm Treo 650 (Cingular, GSM/GPRS)
The Palm Treo 650 improved display and keyboard, integrated Bluetooth, and a speakerphone. No built-in Wi-Fi, low-res camera. What's cool: The world phone also has a 312MHz processor, Palm OS 5.4, multimedia, and e-mail support. $299
Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, speakerphone; slide-out QWERTY thumb keyboard; No support for modem use with a laptop; Wi-Fi and phone won't work at the same time. What's cool: Nice to have a slide out keyboard for those extended e-mails. $299.99
Cingular 8125$149 - $457
QWERTY keyboard slides, Bluetooth-enabled, with Windows Mobile 5, EDGE, Wi-Fi and infrared. What's cool: The quad-band world phone also offers a speakerphone and extra-long talk-time battery life. $349.99
Sony Ericsson W810i
New keypad; Bluetooth, a 2-megapixel camera, an MP3 player, a memory card slot, and speakerphone. What's cool: The Ericsson is a fun phone for taking and sending pix as well. $374.
EDGE capable; MP3 player; Bluetooth; USB connectivity; e-mail. Top drawer in every category and fun to use, albeit a stiff price. What's cool: 2-megapixel digital camera with flash and 8X digital zoom; MPEG-4 video-capture capabilities; separate lens and display swivels; $599.99