As a remote control
There are a range of apps that allow your smartphone to double up as a universal remote control.
As with the dedicated devices, these allow you to control multiple home entertainment gadgets without the need for numerous remotes cluttering up your living room. Most apps make it easy to customize the precise controls you use most often and to control how the buttons are laid out on your phone screen.
One downside is that you'll normally need a plug-in gadget to allow your phone to send infrared signals. An alternative to this is a standalone gadget that site by your TV set, receives signals from the phone via Bluetooth, then sends out the infrared signal to the devices.
As a very remote control
Both the Sky+ and Virgin TiVo services now allow you to access the program planner and guides from your personal video recorder directly on your smartphone. This means you can check out upcoming shows and set a recording even when you aren't at home.
As a video games assistant
A new system currently in production will allow PC gamers to connect their smartphone to their computer while playing a game.
The system, ROCCAT Power-Grid, will allow users to access a range of information on the phone screen while still being able to play the game in full-screen mode on their computer. These can include controls for adjusting the hardware demands or audio set-up of the game, or e-mail and other messages that come in during play. The company is also working on dedicated keyboards that have a slot to hold and display the smartphone during use and even recharge it.
As a cheap home phone
Even if you've stopped using a smartphone when you've upgraded to a new model, you may find it handy to use as a way to cut home calling costs. As long as the handset has a Wi-Fi connection -- and even if you haven't got network service on it -- you can hook it up to services such as Skype that allow cheap or free calls to people around the world.
As a Wi-Fi hotspot
If your network provider and contract allows, you may be able to tether your phone. This means that you can make its 3G data connection available over Wi-Fi to a laptop or netbook computer and get online anywhere. If you do this, remember to check your monthly download limits and bear in mind that computers don't usually access specially customized mobile editions of webpages, so you may use more data than expected.