Though Sprint’s new mobile broadband phone wasn’t made specifically for real estate agents, the new tech toy’s ability to access the multiple listing service, take and send photos, give directions and create documents on a keyboard lends itself nicely to their needs.

“Agents can receive and respond to prospect e-mails when waiting to show a house,” Sprint’s Roger Gaunt said of the PPC 6700 cell phone. The device has blazing speed for a handheld device; “broadband” Internet access is synonymous with “high-speed connection.”

Sprint is not the only company to offer broadband on cell phones; Verizon also does so, Gaunt noted.

The Sprint phone, which launched in September, also has Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint and Word software loaded, a trinity that can be of great use to realty agents in calculating rates, making presentations and creating documents.

Realtors are embracing the Internet, with more than a third of their business now being generated from the Web, according the California Association of Realtors “2005 Use of Technology Survey” released in September.

Forty-six percent of surveyed Realtors said they use e-mail as their primary form of communication with clients, and 31 percent said a Blackberry or Treo was their most important technology upgrade in 2005.

With that in mind, the Sprint device, which Gaunt described as an alternative to the Blackberry or Treo, presents an option worth considering.

The device costs between $480 and $630, while Treo 650s, which also take photos and access the Internet, start at around $300 for low-end models.

A highly touted feature of the phone is EVDO (Evolution Data Only), which provides wireless data connections that are 10 times as fast as a regular dial-up modem.

Agents also can take quality photos with camera phones on the PPC 6700, upload and send property photos. The device has a 1.3 megapixel camera.

Digital cameras capture images as pixels. A megapixel is equal to one million pixels (picture elements). Digital images are made up of thousands of these tiny, tile-like picture elements. The more pixels, the higher the image resolution, and hence, the sharper and clearer the photo.

“Agents can access the Internet to check for the latest listings” via wireless MLS providers, because the device has wireless connectivity, Gaunt said.

Another snappy feature for agents: Global Positioning Systems. It’s possible for an agent to get directions to house he or she is showing via GPS on the phone.

With GPS, an agent need only key in the address where he or she is going, and the system generates directions to that address.

Like many smart devices, the Sprint phone is essentially a computer itself, and it runs a mobile version of the familiar Windows operating system called Windows Mobile. In fact, the manufacturers claim that it’s the first Windows Mobile 5 based smart phone device to launch in U.S. markets, though such claims often are disputed.

The high-speed access is only available in certain cities, but will broaden to all the cities that have regular cell phone access by early next year, Gaunt said.

A review in Digital Lifestyle Magazine called the phone “impressive and out of the pack from the current options available in the market.” The review praised the device’s slide-out keyboard, which has the QWERTY key configuration used in mainstream computer keyboards.

Though overall quite positive, the review commented that it isn’t possible to use the Sprint PPC 6700 one-handed, and stylus use “cannot be eliminated in most circumstances.”


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