A cell phone is no longer just a cell phone. With the ability to surf the Web, pump out tunes, and play full-length movies and TV shows, mobile phones have become more than miniature long-distance walkie-talkies. But as cell phones become more sophisticated, so do the gaggle of accessories dedicated to enhancing their functionality. We dug up five cool new add-ons--some of which are coming out in the next few months--that can help you make the most of your Treo, iPhone, BlackBerry, Walkman phone, or whatever model you're toting around in your back pocket these days.
• Speak and Stream
If your cell phone can handle stereo Bluetooth streaming, you are probably on the lookout for different ways to pipe music to your earholes. At first glance, the MotoRokr T505 looks like your basic in-car speakerphone. Clip it to the visor of your car, and you can answer calls, dial by voice, and chat hands-free while driving. But besides handling phone conversations, the T505 can stream music to your car's stereo system via its FM transmitter, if your phone supports A2DP stereo Bluetooth (the T505 can also stream phone calls from any ol' Bluetooth phone). A cool StationFinder feature helps you locate the ideal FM frequency for broadcasting your tunes and for talking with as little interference as possible.
• iPhone Converter
I've got a perfectly sweet pair of Sennheiser earphones sitting on my shelf; and yet, when tuning in to my iPhone, I remain bound to the standard-issue earbuds. (Thanks, Apple, for that overly narrow headset jack opening.) Griffin's new US$20 SmartTalk kills two birds with one stone, letting you use your favorite set of headphones to listen to music and to answer calls on your iPhone. Equipped with a skinny connector that easily shimmies into the iPhone's headset port, the SmartTalk allows you to jack in your own set of earphones for what's sure to be better sound than what you get from Apple's buds. And thanks to a small control module (complete with mic), the SmartTalk also gives you power over your music and calls. You can play, pause, and skip between tunes, as well as answer a call or send it to voicemail if you're more in the mood to groove than to chat.
• Sleek Headset
Describing a headset as "sexy" is kinda like calling braces "cool." The two words just don't mix. Yet Jabra's latest is, indeed, one sexy hunk of metal. Introduced at CES, the JX20 Pura is the follow-up to the company's stylish but aging JX10. Crafted by acclaimed European industrial designer Jacob Jensen, who has devised numerous products for Bang & Olufsen, the JX20 Pura exudes luxury from every brushed anodized titanium pore. Weighing in at less than half an ounce, the $179 Pura (due out in May 2008) comes with a matching desk stand, two different ear-hook sizes, and your pick of ear-gel inserts (various sizes and shapes) so you can find the most comfortable fit. The headset lasts for about 6 hours of talk time on one charge, and the earpiece itself rotates to power the device on or off, thereby preserving the minimalist design.
• Uber Charger
For gadget fiends, packing for a trip is like preparing a picnic lunch for a group of kids with different food allergies. There's a lot to keep track of, and inevitably you forget something vital (cell phone charger, gluten-free bread, etc.). The Chargepod, from Callpod, simplifies things.
This $50 dongle sports six charging stations, so you can juice all of your portable electronics from one outlet, without having to lug a tangle of cables and chargers in your carry-on bag. Besides the springing for the Chargepod itself, you'll have to invest in adapters for your various gadgets. At $10 a pop, they're not cheap, but adapters are available for a multitude of devices, including iPods and iPhones; most brands of cell phone; Sony and Nintendo gaming handhelds; and Bluetooth headsets from companies like Jabra, Plantronics, and Motorola. If you don't mind spending the dough, it's a great way to lighten your load.
• Sweet Speaker
Who says you have to play your mobile music through a tin-can-quality cell phone speaker? Samsung's YA-BS900 wireless speaker, due out in March 2008, will jump you to the opposite extreme, pumping out great-sounding tunes from your cell (or Bluetooth-equipped MP3 player) through its trio of high-end 10-watt speakers. Samsung also touts the speaker's "three-channel surround sound," which is supposed to make you feel as though you're standing at the center of your music. A 2008 CES Innovations award winner, the BS900 comes with a remote control, and line-in and USB ports for hooking up other music sources. It also allows you to turn down the volume if you get a call, and it can turn itself on whenever you walk by it with a paired device in hand. Though Samsung hasn't yet settled on a price for the speaker, the BS900 is unlikely to be a bargain when it arrives--but what other device even knows when you're in the room?