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Wireless Investing Has Arrived

     Have you ever gone to a client site or lunch; only to find a stock you wanted had shot up while you were out? Or even worse, a stock you own dropped like a rock during the few hours you were away from the office? Now you can avoid these problems with one of the handheld wireless devices available. The promise of wireless investment technology is you will be able to instantly get stock information wherever you are, and be able to respond with the appropriate buy or sell order. And with many of these units you can also get directions, check a movie review, make a dinner or airline reservation and check your email while you're away from the office.

    The options for wireless investing include PDAs (Personal Data Assistants) like the Palm products, Internet enabled cell phones, and two-way text pagers. Even though not a pocket size device, a regular laptop computer with a wireless modem can also make an effective wireless investment tool.

    Each wireless device has its advantages and disadvantages. A web enabled cell phone can receive stock alerts and allow you to enter buy and sell orders. Your ability to access a meaningful portion of the Internet from these devices is limited. Due to their small screen, they probably won't work for you if you like to read news stories or view price charts before making an investment move. Entering stock symbols from a numeric keypad isn't easy. High-end two-way text pagers have an alphabet style keypad that makes it easier to entering stock symbols when checking quotes or placing an order, but their screens are still too small to read news stories or view charts. They are lightweight, fit into your pocket, and still allow you to check stock prices, get email alerts, view your account status, and place buy and sell orders.

    The device of choice for active investors on the go is the Palm VIIx ($449). Less active investors that don't need charts or news stories will do well with a web-enable cell phone or a two-way text pager. Most online brokers are catering to the units from Palm. These one-pound handheld PDA's have a high-resolution monochrome screen large enough to display stock charts and news stories. They use a stylus rather than a keypad and are easy to use. The Palm VII models have a built-in modem for wireless communications, which is an-add on with other units.

    Handheld PDA's can store addresses, phones numbers, calendars, and much more, but like a cell phone, you need an account with a service provider before it'll communicate with the rest of the world. Web enabled cell phones offer web services as an add-on to their regular service. Palm users can use or a handful of other providers. basic service is $9.99 per month and unlimited service is $44.99 per month.

    Among the online brokers offering wireless trading are Ameritrade, eTrade, and Fidelity. Investors wanting wireless trading capabilities should check with their current broker. Find out what services they provide and what devices they support. If they don't offer wireless trading and this is important to you, then maybe its time to move your account to another broker.

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