All the excitement here in Japan about high-speed, third generation mobile phones was followed by service delays, glitchy phones and big disappointment. So big, it seems, that when I went to the wireless carrier KDDI to replace my old mobile, nobody bothered to tell me my new phone, a Sanyo Global Passport, was a member of the 3G.
Within a couple of weeks, though, it became indispensable. The marketing geniuses there must have gone through people's handbags and attaché cases to see how many things they could replace with a phone. Not only can I use it to check my Hotmail account and surf the Internet, but the mobile also functions as a mirror, a flashlight, a camera, a video recorder and a music player.
The phone's clock is continually updated to within a second's accuracy, so I no longer use my bedside clock or wristwatch. The alarm on the phone wakes me up by playing a downloaded Beethoven tune. The calendar has the schedule for the day. On the commute it delivers the news from Reuters, CNN and others. If I have an appointment that requires me to wear a tie, I push a button and the 2-inch color LCD screen turns into a mirror I can use to check the knot.
The mobile grabs data off the Web about three times as fast as a regular dial-up phone connection, plenty of speed for e-mail and sending photographs or videoclips. You can snap a picture or take a videoclip and e-mail it to someone just by pushing five buttons.
The list of functions goes on, more than I will ever need, use or want, like hundreds of video and board games and instant dating services. And I sometimes use it to talk to people across town or the world. Isn't that quaint?
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