Get smart: wouldn't it be great if your cell phone, laptop, and PDA could be molded into one mobile device? They can: it's called a smartphone, and it can help streamline your practice.
My latest PDA is a "smartphone" that performs all the tasks of my previous PDA, plus it has cell phone, Web access, and e-mail retrieval features. My Palm Treo 650 has largely replaced all the other equipment. Only three by four inches, it fits in my purse or a large pocket. Yes, I still occasionally need the power and functionality of my laptop, but not often.
My smartphone provides most basic laptop features, including a calendar, task lists, and programs that allow time and expense tracking. It runs Amicus Attorney, Adobe Reader, Microsoft Word (which I use to create and edit documents), and Microsoft Excel (which allows integration with my time-and-billing software). It has a calculator, a clock showing multiple time zones, Internet access, e-mail software, and even selected games. Because it is also my cell phone, I can quickly locate a client's name and phone number in a list of stored contacts and have the device automatically dial the number for me.
Every major market study of handheld devices indicates that smartphones (or smart devices) are growing more popular than simple PDAs. And the impact on the handheld industry has been significant. Consulting firm Gartner, Inc., estimates that over 15 million PDAs were shipped in 2005, surpassing the record of 13.2 million set in 2001. (2) If first-quarter statistics held for the entire year, at least 55 percent of those PDAs were smartphones.
Once, Palm--now Access Co., Ltd., (3) and Palm, Inc.--dominated a very small PDA market. Now, well-respected companies like Hewlett-Packard (HP), Dell, Research in Motion (RIM), Samsung, LG Electronics, Nokia, Sony, Siemens, Ericsson, and Fujitsu have also gotten into the PDA/smartphone business.
RIM's BlackBerry PDAs and smartphones use a proprietary operating system software (RIM OS), (4) as do Palm handhelds (Palm OS). Other devices--generally known as Pocket PCs--use Microsoft Windows CE or Windows Mobile. And more vendors are now using Symbian OS from Symbian Software. However, Palm OS and Microsoft's operating systems still power most devices used in the United States.
Making the move
Attorneys considering the move from a laptop or PDA to a smartphone have lots of options. My last PDA was a Palm Zire. I liked it, but I was tired of carrying it and my Samsung cell phone. So I looked for a single device, a smartphone that would work with existing files from my old PDA and Palm OS-based software--and not cost me a fortune.
Because I chose to go with another Palm product, I did not have to rekey stored data. I knew from experience with the Palm Zire that a new Palm device would work with my frequently used documents and that I could synchronize it with my time-and-billing software. With the incentives my wireless service provider offered me as a long-term customer, the new device was less than $200.
Most companies--including AT&T/ Cingular, T-Mobile, and Sprint--will offer you incentives to switch to a smartphone based on how long you have been a customer and the contract length you are willing to accept. Call and negotiate. If you are a regular customer, they have an incentive to keep you happy. Remember, you can move your cell phone number if you are not satisfied with your old provider's offer. Even if you have a long-term contract with your provider, it may actually make sense to pay the penalties and move your business elsewhere.
Some PDA models have been developed to take advantage of specific services and features provided by selected companies. For example, BlackBerry users might want to consider the 7130e model, which was built to work with Verizon's BroadBandAccess services. Using this smartphone as a modern, users can quickly and wirelessly download large files to their laptops in over 171 metropolitan areas in the country.
Service providers are just one factor in choosing a smartphone. If you already use a PDA, you will probably want to buy a smartphone that uses the same operating system. You are familiar with the interface, you know the new PDA will work with the software and systems on your office computers, and the learning curve will be minimal.
For example, are you using collaboration and communications software such as Novell GroupWise, Microsoft Exchange, or IBM Lotus Domino or Notes? Palm, BlackBerry, and Windows-based operating systems all offer interfaces with Exchange 2000, but GroupWise and Domino users may have fewer smartphone choices.
If your office wants to stay with a particular wireless service provider, you will need to know what smartphones (and operating systems) the provider will support to ensure you have e-mail and voice access. And then there is the Apple versus Windows issue. All PDA/smartphone operating systems will work with Windows, but only some--including the BlackBerry--work with Macs.
If you travel a lot outside the United States and Canada, you may want to consider a wireless service provider, such as T-Mobile or AT&T/Cingular, that uses GSM service. (5) HP, Palm, and BlackBerry make GSM smartphones that work all over the world. Look for a smartphone (or cell phone) that has all four international GSM bands: 800, 850, 1800, and 1900 megahertz (MHz).
Before selecting a smartphone, consider how you work. For example, some devices, such as the BlackBerry and Au diovox models, allow you to key in data by tapping or writing on the screen with a stylus. For people who are used to typing on a keyboard, many smartphones come with a small keyboard just big enough to type on with two thumbs. But having a small keyboard built in to the smartphone generally means a smaller screen. One alternative is the HP iPAQ Pocket PC h6300 with a snap-on thumb keyboard and a larger screen.
Another choice for those who do a lot of typing is a keyboard attachment. If you think hauling around a keyboard defeats the idea of a pocket-size device, think again. The keyboard I use folds to a size only slightly larger than the smartphone itself. However, if you're not taking a lot of notes or editing documents on the fly, you may find a folding keyboard a nuisance.
Next, figure out how much computing power you will need and how much you want to spend. Smartphones, like any computer, come with different features, memory, processing speeds, and expandability. There is always a trade-off between price and features--the more bells and whistles on board, the more you will pay. But some extra features can really pay off. For example, how many times have you thought while working on a case, "I just wish I had a camera at hand"? Many smartphones have built-in digital cameras and take surprisingly good photos and even short videos.
Most smartphones come with at least 64 megabytes (MB) of memory. Figure out how much memory will be taken up by the operating system, software, and files you will typically store on the device, then triple that number. That's the amount of memory you ought to have. If that much memory doesn't come with the phone you want, the good news is that most smartphones have expansion slots for compact flash or secure device (SD) memory cards.
A few PDAs, such as the HX 4700 from HP, have slots for both. These cards, the size of a postage stamp, can provide from 128 MB to several gigabytes of storage. Because they can be swapped out easily and their cost has fallen, you may want to put files on a separate SD card for each client for logistical and security reasons.
Another feature I insist on is Blue-tooth, a wireless networking service and protocol. Bluetooth-enabled handhelds can control Bluetooth devices, such as printers and data projectors, within a 33-foot radius. The HP 450WB, for example, is a 4.5-pound portable printer with Bluetooth technology that fits in a laptop case and allows you to print wirelessly from a Bluetooth smartphone.
HP even has a data projector that can be similarly controlled using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, allowing you to project what you see on your PDA screen. As long as you are within the 33-foot range and have the proper drivers (programs that control the device) installed, this system works well. In February 2005, HP announced that all its new iPAQs would contain several current mobile printer drivers, and owners of older iPAQs can download those drivers from the HP Web site. (6)
BlackBerry offers a hands-free, wireless headset that connects to a phone using Bluetooth. Your new car may even come with Bluetooth factory-installed as an option. You would get a receiver, a microphone, and a small control device mounted to the dashboard so that as long as your Bluetooth-enabled smartphone was in the vehicle (within range), you could send and receive calls with all the freedom of a hands-free device. GM's OnStar system has a similar feature; however, to use it you need a separate phone number provided by Verizon.
Bluetooth is globally available so you can use it almost anywhere, and it requires no fixed infrastructure. And speaking of mobility, GPS capabilities are available on a number of smartphones, such as the HP iPAQ hw6500. (7) This handheld comes with an integrated GPS receiver, but you will need to purchase the navigation software to get maps and directions. GPS systems can save traveling lawyers time, even providing alternate routes when necessary.
As a lawyer on the go, you should keep an extra charger and requisite cables at home, in your car, and in your suitcase. They aren't expensive but can be tough to find at 11 p.m. in a strange city. In addition, keep an extra stylus, rechargeable batteries, and a screen protector in a carrying case with the cables and chargers.
Almost any type of software you could need is available for smartphones and PDAs; however, not all software is available for every operating system. Decide what you need to narrow your smartphone choices. Start with the basics: calendar, contact management, reference materials such as dictionaries, word processing, e-mail, and time and billing.
Word, PowerPoint, and Excel are available for Windows operating systems. For other operating systems, software such as eOffice Professional Edition from Handango (8) for the BlackBerry and Documents to Go (9) for Palm OS devices lets you work with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents. For e-mail, Palm users can choose between Palm's own e-mail system or Outlook. BlackBerry users can use Outlook, Novell GroupWise, and Lotus Notes. Windows devices, of course, can use any Windows e-mail application, including Outlook.
Almost every major brand of time-and-billing software either has its own software for handhelds or provides it through a third-party developer. Time Matters from Lexis/Nexis, for example, provides bidirectional synchronization between office computers and Palm and Pocket PC devices. With this capability, you can create entries at the office and on the road, and, after synchronization, both the smartphone and the office computer will reflect all the entries. Not all time-and-billing system add-ons for handhelds are bidirectional; in some cases, time and expense entries for a client can go only from the handheld to the server or main computer storing the data.
For tracking time and expenses, third parties offer Timeslips add-ons for handheld devices. Both TimeReporter (10) for Palm OS devices and Time to Time Pro (11) for Pocket PC devices have a simple interface, and they upload lists of clients, tasks, and references to the handheld and automatically add those entries to Timeslips for billing at the next synchronization. Amicus Attorney also works with Palm OS PDAs and smartphones. With other handhelds, you may have to use Microsoft Outlook to share information with Amicus Attorney.
If your time-and-billing software does not yet have handheld device capabilities, consider programs such as TimeKM Mobile (12) and GoodLink (13) to provide time and expense tracking. GoodLink also lets you get to Outlook running on your office computer.
You can even do research with your smartphone. For several years, Westlaw has provided Westlaw Wireless, a mobile version of its extensive legal database--"virtually all Westlaw content, including cases, statutes, regulations, news, [and] topical materials"--for almost any PDA or smartphone with Internet access. (14) Page layouts, graphics, and content are modified for the smaller screens of handhelds.
Palm OS users can also access an optional Web-clipping service using dedicated software provided by Westlaw. One advantage of this software is that it stores commonly used information on the PDA or smartphone itself. This reduces the time the user spends waiting for wireless transmissions.
Many law books are now available for purchase and download through a desktop computer to your smartphone or PDA. These include everything from the classics, such as the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, to legal dictionaries.
You can also download the primary sources of laws themselves. Selected and comprehensive versions of the federal code as well as the laws of several states--including California, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, and Texas--are available for download on the Palm Source Web site. (15) Examples include the New York Civil Practice Laws and Rules and the Federal Rules of Evidence. All these titles will require you to download a specific "reader" such as Adobe Acrobat's Reader or iSilo. They are available for download at the PalmSource Web site at little or no cost. Unlike Westlaw Wireless, which is constantly updated, these titles are "static" so you will need to download new versions as they are published.
Because many smartphones have built-in MP3 players, you may want to consider downloading audio books. I have found this a greatway to "multitask" while traveling and commuting.
According to McAfee Avert Labs, threats to mobile devices are expected to triple in 2006, as smartphones and other mobile devices become more common. (16) Because of attorneys' need to protect the confidences of clients and work-product privilege, such threats are a real concern. Smartphones and PDAs raise at least three security issues you must address.
The first is physical security. The worst breach would be to lose your handheld or have it stolen--a real concern because of its small size and portability.
Your data may be safe, however. Several companies, including Palm, provide a tool that you can use to "lock down" the smartphone as soon as you realize it has been lost or stolen. And many smartphones are trackable by your service provider when the thief uses the phone--think of it as a handheld Lo-Jack system.
Some devices, like the HP HX2750, now have a biometric fingerprint reader for user authentication; an unauthorized user can't access the data, even by attempting a hard reset, which will automatically wipe out all the data on the PDA. As the authorized user, you could recover the data from a backup source such as a desktop computer, so you do need to remember to back up your files frequently. Add this to your to-do list with an audio alert.
The next security issue is storing whole documents on the smartphone. Manufacturers now provide full encryption for all documents, even those stored on SD cards. PDAs from HP now come with HP Protect Tools hard-coded into the memory so the encryption systems are permanently built into the hardware. However, if you fail to use the encryption key or if you store your passwords on the smartphone itself, all this protection is useless.
Wireless security is also a concern. The Cabir virus, a worm that infects mobile phones and replicates through Bluetooth, generated a lot of press last year. (17) But damage to a smartphone is a remote concern so far, unless you use Bluetooth for communications. Remember, the car next to you at the traffic light is less than 33 feet away and might be Bluetooth-enabled, too. The bottom line is that you need to be aware that those around you also might have Bluetooth devices.
A more common concern, with the prevalence of public hotspots for wireless Internetaccess, is another Wi-Fi user with "sniffer" software. (18) This software, originally developed for network administrators to monitor network traffic, can be used illegally to hack into your e-mail if it is not encrypted. Companies such as Bluefire Security Technologies provide advanced security tools for smartphones that can thwart sniffers. (19)
Although courts, federal law, and ethics opinions so far have held that an illegally intercepted e-mail or cellular conversation will not "lose its privileged character," such an interception could be embarrassing to you and damaging to your client. (20) Take steps to prevent interception; most important, don't check client e-mail from public Wi-Fi hotspots unless absolutely necessary.
There is much more to learn about these incredible devices, and the technology is changing almost daily. Check with your service provider for the latest information. I wish I could tell you more, but my smartphone is ringing and I can see the call is from a client.
RELATED ARTICLE: So you need a smartphone?
Here are some tips to help you choose and use the right one for you.
* Visit your wireless service provider's storefront to try the equipment it supports.
* Choose among those approved devices and operating systems based on the hardware and software you have in your office. Don't reinvent your practice just because you like a particular smartphone model.
* Keep accessories on hand and in your car, including cables, chargers, rechargeable batteries, and other essentials.
* Practice good security and make it part of your everyday routine.
* Be patient with yourself while learning to use this new tool. It's worth the effort.
--CATHERINE PENNINGTON PAUNOV
(1.) These small handheld computers typically include a calendar, contact list, time and expense tracking, and task/to-do lists. Many now also offer access to e-mail and the Internet. Users generally keep information on their PDA current by interfacing with a larger computer.
(2.) Todd Kort et al., PDA Market Has Record First Quarter, Growing 25 Percent (May 2, 2005), available at www.gartner.com (search on title) (last visited Jan. 30, 2006).
(3.) In November 2005, Access Co., Ltd., of Japan purchased PalmSource, Inc., the software spinoff from Palm, Inc.
(4.) RIM was found guilty of infringing on a patent held by NTP, Inc.--a ruling that could suspend its support for BlackBerry technology. It appealed, and in late January, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the appellate court ruling. Meanwhile, the press reports, "RIM says it has designed and tested a replacement version of its BlackBerry wireless system that would let it work around NTP's patent claims, but so far the company has refused to provide any details. NTP has said it will challenge such a work-around as further infringement of its patents." See Simon Avery, RIM Allegedly Caused "Substantial Harm," TORONTO GLOBE & MAIL, Jan. 17, 2006.
(5.) Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) is the cellular phone communications standard used by many countries. If you travel outside the United States, a GSM phone is essential. However, in the United States, the phone may not have the coverage of other protocols, especially in rural areas.
(7.) Global positioning system (GPS) is a worldwide radio-navigation system that uses 24 satellites orbiting Earth and a set of corresponding Earth-based receivers. Coordinates sent simultaneously from three satellites give users their location within 30 feet anywhere on Earth.
(11.) www.tomthumbsoftware.com (also software to integrate with Juris and QuickBooks).
(16.) See Dawn Kawamoto, 2006: Year of the Mobile Malware, Dec. 19, 2005, available at http:// news.com.com/2006+Year+of+the+mobile+ malware/2100-7349_3-6001651.html (last visited Jan. 30, 2006).
(17.) See Spencer Swartz, Mobile Phone Virus Found in United States, MSNBC, Feb. 18, 2005, available at http://msnbc.msn.com/id/6995438 (last visited Jan. 26, 2006); Cellphone Viruses Could Become a Threat, WALL ST. J., Dec 27, 2004, at B4.
(18.) Well-known hotspots, where access may be free or fee-based, include Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, hotels, train stations, and airline club rooms. You can use a Wi-Fi-enabled PDA or smartphone to connect to the Internet at these access points, which have hardware or software that acts as a communications hub connecting the wireless user to a wired network.
(20.) 18U.S.C. [section] 2517(4) (2000).
Attorney CATHERINE PENNINGTON PAUNOV is the owner of Pennington Consulting, a computer and law office technology business based in Staten Island, New York, and St. Petersburg, Florida. She may be reached at Catherine Paunov@cs.com. The views expressed in this article are the author's and do not constitute an endorsement of any product by TRIAL or ATLA.