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Call Me Back on My Handheld

They're not yet a perfect fit, but PDA-cell phone combos have come a long way

When I looked at the convergence of wireless phones and handheld computers in my last column, I concluded that companies were far more likely to succeed at adding phone functions to handheld computer platforms than in trying to turn phones into computers. This week, I take a look at some products that do a good job of turning handhelds, or personal digital assistants, into phones.

Like all of their breed, these hybrids tend to be clunky, at least by the standards of today's sleek, pocketable phones. But there's a limit to how small you can make a PDA and keep it useful. The slickest new device is the "Palm-powered" Kyocera Smartphone, which will probably cost $400 to $500 with a service plan. It's the successor to the Qualcomm pdQ phone of 1999, which struck me as a Palm glued to a phone. Not only was it huge but there was little integration between the phone and the Palm components.