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Souped-up cellphones like tiny PCs

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Sci/Tech

A road warrior, Chad Stevens used to shuttle from airport to construction site to hotel, waiting until evening to catch up on the 200 e-mails accumulated each day on his laptop.

These days Stevens, who owns a travel-services business, leaves his laptop at home and uses his palmOne Treo to check e-mail, calendar appointments, driving directions and updates from his Web site — whether he's at a job site, at a stoplight or on his living-room couch.

"I read the news and anything that's coming through e-mail," Stevens said. "It makes your life a lot more simple." Oh yes, he added, "I use it as a phone as well."

The scene is becoming familiar. More people are using their feature-loaded cellphones or wireless devices as if they were personal computers, so much so that one leading brand, the BlackBerry, is sometimes dubbed the CrackBerry, a reference to users' dependence on it. Some are even using it instead of their PCs.

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