Blackberries, Treos and iPhones, oh my, how technology has changed the way we communicate.
Cell phones have evolved from just communication devices to phones with cameras, MP3 players and even navigational devices.
The mega, ultra-packed cell phone of them all is a hand-held wireless device. The phones, also known as Research In Motion BlackBerries, Palm Treos, or the most recent Apple iPhone come equipped with e-mail, calendars, cameras and Web browsers.
The extra options and applications make it convenient and easier for professionals to stay connected and work while they are on-the-go -- with just the tip of a finger. From real estate agents to financial brokers, the wireless devices have become handy tools for staying connected.
BlackBerries and Treos are both similar in concept. Rectangular in shape with a screen and buttons, both devices look similar to a cell phone with a bigger screen. But the iPhone has taken a new route with cell phone design. Sleek and rectangular, the iPhone uses a touch screen instead of buttons.
Les Wilson recently purchased the new Apple iPhone. A coach for the Perkins High School girls' soccer team, Wilson said he is able to use the device even on the field. As a soccer coach, Wilson said he can browse the Internet and easily find out about weather conditions with his phone.
"It's not so much what it does, but how it does it," he said. "It's so easy to use the phone."
The iPhone works by connecting to a cell phone network for phone calls and to WiFi networks for Internet use. Wilson said he is lucky because he can usually connect to a wireless network while he is on the soccer field.
"I find it to be very nice," he said.
Wilson's wife, Beverly, also incorporates the use of her phone with work. As a Mary Kay consultant, she is able to log on to Mary Kay's Web site to quickly place orders. She also has shown short videos and demonstrations downloaded to her phone, Wilson said.
"It's easier than whipping out a laptop," he said.
With wireless devices becoming more mainstream, businesses and companies are investing in them for their employees.
Gary Packan, Sandusky's assistant city manager, has had his BlackBerry for about one year.
Packan, along with several other city officials, use the handheld devices for work. They are able to send messages and reminders to one another throughout the day as well as check e-mail without returning to the office.
"They make you more effective and efficient. I don't have to wait to go back to my desk," Packan said. "Some of the things I do, I do between tasks. The big thing is e-mail."
Wilson originally carried a cell phone along with a Personal Digital Assistant, or PDA, before he invested in the iPhone. At times he would forget one device or the other.
"Now everything is in one location," he said.
According to a survey by Yahoo! HotJobs, 70 percent of professionals surveyed said they are more productive at work because they use wireless devices and 65 percent said they have more flexible schedules because they can work remotely.
But, of course, there can always be a bad side to good things.
"It gets kind of addictive," said Packan about his BlackBerry. "You're always at work."
Twenty-six percent of those surveyed by Yahoo! said they felt they were attached to a "permanent corporate leash" because of their devices and 33 percent said they were easily distracted by work-related e-mails and calls during their personal time.
Packan said whenever he hears or feels his device vibrate, he feels compelled to answer or check it.
"From my point of view, it's hard to imagine how we progressed without phones. It makes you so much more flexible," Packan said.
For both Packan and Wilson, they find it convenient that their phones and computers can sync up, instantly updating one another with current dates and appointments.
"It's not just my PDA," said Wilson about his iPhone. "It's a business tool."
The thought of normal cell phone usage is now just a fleeting memory.
"Not unless I break (the iPhone)," Wilson said with a laugh.
* high technology
* media player
* e-mail, messaging
* media capabilities including camera and media player