Think about the times you've been stuck in a line, or you need to check your e-mail, but don't want to fire up your desktop computer or laptop. Or maybe you want to review a PowerPoint presentation, or whip up a quick Excel spreadsheet to track your holiday gift list while shopping. You can make your phone work for you.

I have a Windows Mobile phone, which means my phone is powered by a mobile version of Windows and similar to my desktop computer. With it, I can do a lot of things that I can't do with a regular cell phone.

1) Read and send e-mail
I was talking to a friend yesterday who had a feature phone from another company. He got e-mail on the phone, but could only get corporate e-mail. I showed him the home screen of my phone. I was getting e-mail from the corporate network, from Yahoo!, from gmail, and from Hotmail. With a quick glance, I could tell exactly how many e-mails I had received from each account. I even answered work e-mails from the middle of the Arizona desert.

If your e-mail account at work uses Exchange Server, you can get your e-mail anywhere, over-the-air. This means that I can sit around in my jammies in the morning, finishing a cup of tea, and read and respond to e-mails. If I want to go out to lunch, but need to keep my eye on a project that I'm working on, no problem. I can set my phone to sync with my corporate e-mail so that I'm instantly aware of new messages.

The set up is easy, if you have all the information you need. Learn more about setting up your phone for e-mail.

Image of Windows Mobile phone

2) Find your way with GPS
One of the most useful apps I've found to use with my phone is GPS. I was testing some GPS software designed for Windows Mobile phones at the same time that I was looking for a new house.

It made my life incredibly easier. All I had to do was enter the address of the house I wanted to go see, and I got turn-by-turn voice directions on my phone. Some of the phones come with integrated GPS, but for most of them you need to buy a GPS receiver and third-party software.

I've also used Pocket Streets. This application allows you to download special maps, or make up maps of areas using MapPoint, and then you can download them to your phone. When I was house hunting, I used it to find a coffee shop near a particular house I was viewing, because the maps have points-of-interest.

3) Listen to Music
I like to listen to music, and I own an MP3 player. However, I don't like to carry lots of cords, cables, and devices. My phone comes with Windows Media Player Mobile 10, which means I can sync my phone with my desktop version of Windows Media Player. Then when I jog, I can pack my phone in my fanny pack and listen to music. I also have my phone handy in case I need my husband to pick me up if I decide I really don't want to run all the way back. And I don't have to carry the extra weight of another device.

I've ripped my purchased CDs to my desktop computer, and then synced them to a storage card that I can insert into my phone. It's possible to buy storage cards that are up to 2 gigabytes (GB) for your device.

Another fun function—you can download movies onto your phone. I've watched the oldie but goodie, My Man Godfrey on my phone.

4) Browse the Internet instead of waiting
My husband wasn't convinced that anyone needed all this on their phone, until he went on a shopping trip with his mother and me. He was bored. I handed him the phone, showed him how to pull up the Internet, and he sat down and started reading and replying to posts on his favorite bulletin boards.

There are mobile sites that allow you to make dinner reservations, check traffic, get your horoscope, look up flight status, and more. Our site has a list of some of our favorite mobile sites.

You can actually look at any site on the Internet, but some sites are specifically designed for mobile viewing. I've used my phone to look up all kinds of things—movie times, store hours and locations, the definition of a havelina—while out and around.

So, if you are only packing a regular phone, you might want to think about getting a more up-to-date device. Computers really are getting smaller every day!

Image of a Web site on a Windows Mobile-based smartphone

—Suzanne Ross