Not too long ago, a new phone or PDA could get a lot of attention just by being smaller, faster or cheaper than the phone or PDA that came before it.

Manufacturers surely are nostalgic for those days. They still need to make their devices better, but now they have to make them do the work of other devices as well. A phone that is just a phone doesn’t generate buzz. But a phone that adds a PDA and e-mail access, or a PDA with a gigantic hard disk — now you’re talking. Then there are the gadgets that let you do more with the gadgets you already have, such as universal power adapters.