A host of new services are taking on the BlackBerry, and giants like Nokia and Motorola are entering the game.
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
$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