PDA's, What They Are, Do You Need One?

PDA's, or Personal Digital Assistants, are hand-held computer-like devices which act as a small computer or organizer, and may have other features such as cell phone, web browser, fax sender, and media player. Originally developed as an organizational device so that one didn't have to keep written notes, carry an address book, calculator, or calendar. Other features were later added to make these even better. Today you can have it all in one small hand-held device. No matter whether you are a busy mom, student, or in business or industry, you should find many uses for a PDA. Small enough to fit in purse or pocket, you're less likely to lose a PDA as a piece of paper, so your notes and addresses are secure. With all the new features available on a PDA today, you may find this will replace other electronic devices that you currently carry. This article will cover the many uses for PDA's, features, and the most popular brands and prices. You should find plenty of information to help you decide on the PDA for your pocketbook and needs. Read on!

PDA Features and Uses

The most basic PDA's will handle personal information management (PIM) tasks' store contact information such as address and phone numbers; make to-do lists and take notes; keep track of appointments and obligations (calendaring); and act as a calculator. They will also synchronize with your regular computer to act as a back-up and for additional data entry. If you want more features, you'll find PDA's with Wi-Fi (wireless) capabilities so you can access the Internet for emailing or text messaging and web browsing, camera features and media players, and even mobile phone capabilities. The sky, and your budget, is the limit.

Buying a PDA

If you are in the market for a PDA, the first thing to consider is what you will use it for. If you just want an organizer, you shouldn't bother with the new smartphones or other PDA's with wireless capabilities. However, if you travel frequently or want to stay in touch with family, friends or business associates by phone or email, then you'll need one with WiFi capability, or a smartphone. You should also consider syncronization with your own computer. Before buying, be sure the PDA you are interested in has synchornization software compatible with your computer system. Data entry method is another consideration. Many now come with a built-in keyboard rather than using a stylus to enter data. And above all, try out several models before you buy, to get the one that feels right and is easiest for you to use.

Other things to consider include being able to expand its capabilities through added software, memory, or flash media cards. Accessories are another area to examine. You may want an additional battery, headphones, car or travel charger, carrying case, plastic screen protector, and add-on keyboard. If you are interested in a smartphone, be aware that you will also need a cell phone plan that will cover data as well as telephone usage.

PDA Versions

If you are in the market for the traditional PDA which is for organizational purposes only, some previous makers have left the market due to the more sophisticated models now available. Here are the major makers of PDA's today, together with features and average prices.

Palm PDA's
Palm offers two product lines: the Zire and the Tungsten. Features include a library of over 20,000 third-party applications that can be added to your system; synchronization with both Mac and Windows; and an updated version of the Grafitti handwriting recognition application. If you only want an organizer and aren't interested in any type of Internet or email capabilities, prices start at $95 for the Z22, which is a basic organizer with 32MB of memory for storage and no card slot to expand the memory. Still, it's an excellent device for the money. The Tungsten E2 runs around $195, but you get more organizer for your bucks. Has 32MB of memory and an SD slot to add more. This doesn't have Wi-fi capabilities, but is equipped with Bluetooth for short-range data transfers. Also has media capabilites for viewing photos and video.

Pocket PC
This is the generic name for Windows Mobile PDA's. Features include pocket versions of Microsoft Word, Excel and Outlook, among others; synchronization with Microsoft Outlook; three handwriting recognition applications; a virtual writing area to maximize the display size; and a media player. An example includes the HP iPAQ rz1715, a basic pocket PC for around $200 with 32MB of memory and a slot for memory expansion.

There are many models of smartphones which are a combination of PDA and mobile phone. Does everything a typical PDA does with mobile phone capabilites, and more. You can get your best prices from your mobile phone service provider if you're in the market for a Smartphone. See our related articles on Smartphones and the iPhone, under the Cell Phone-Communications category.

Final Words

If you're looking for a Personal Digital Assistant, be it a basic organizer or smartphone, determine what functions you want your PDA to do and shop accordingly. Prices run anywhere from about $95 for the basic organizer, on up to $600 for the new iPhone from Apple. You should find plenty to choose from.

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