All about PDA
A personal digital assistant/PDA (also known as a handheld or a pocket PC) is a miniature computer that allows you to store, access, and organize information. Basic handhelds allow you to store and retrieve addresses and phone numbers, maintain a calendar, and create to-do lists and notes. More sophisticated pocket PCs can run word processing, spreadsheet, money manager, and electronic book reading programs, and also provide e-mail and Internet access. Most can also exchange information with a desktop or laptop computer, although you may have to buy additional accessories.
E-mail and Internet access
Most pocket PCs allow you to access e-mail, the Internet, and your office network by connecting either via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi 802.11b/g.New generation PDA’s now includes Internet Explorer and Microsoft® Outlook to give your handheld the functionality of a full-size PC.Be aware that not all content of every web site may be available on a pocket PC, either because of the limited power relative to a desktop computer or because the PDA does not come with the software necessary to view all content on every site. Sometimes, additional software may be purchased and loaded onto the PDA to allow additional Web content to be displayed.
Connecting to a desktop or notebook computer
Typically, PDAs come with cables or docking stations to connect them to your desktop or notebook computer. Connecting lets you synchronize and update the files on your PDA with your desktop or notebook computer, such as your calendar, address book, and to-do lists. Some PDAs also allow you to synchronize word processing and spreadsheet files as well as e-mail messages, and copy web site addresses and Web pages for viewing offline..Display
Some handhelds have monochrome or gray-scale displays, while others can display from 256 to 64,000 colors, and the screens are either active matrix or passive matrix. In general, active matrix displays are easier to see, more responsive, faster, and can be viewed at larger angles than passive matrix displays.Most PDA screens may be seen adequately in a variety of lighting conditions. Many have gauges for indoor, outdoor, and power-saving modes. Some color PDAs can be set to dim the backlight if the PDA is not in use for a set time, which extends the battery life.Batteries
Some PDAs run on permanent rechargeable batteries, while others use rechargeable batteries that can be replaced. How long you can go before recharging or changing batteries may vary depending on the PDA, and the time it takes for recharging may also vary depending on the battery. You can use the PDA while the battery is recharging. AC adapters and auto adapters are other easy ways to recharge your handheld.
In today’s market, PDAs typically have between 64MB to 128MB of built-in memory. The lower end of the range is generally sufficient to fill address books, maintain an active calendar, take notes, and load useful programs. But more memory may be helpful for storing large files such as digital photos, videos, or audio recordings, or to house large software programs. You can expand the memory of some PDAs with small storage cards that can be inserted into the PDA. Think about your anticipated memory requirements before you buy, so that the PDA you select is capable of meeting your needs.
Size and weight
Today’s PDAs range from those that fit on a wristwatch to those the size of a paperback book. The smallest PDAs have only basic information-organizing functions: they allow you to maintain address books and calendars and create to-do lists. Complementary hardware (for example, modems, cradles, and battery chargers) adds to the overall size and weight of PDAs.
You have to use a stylus pen to enter information into many PDAs. You tap on an on-screen keyboard or enter data by writing on the screen, which may require learning a new way of printing the alphabet. Some handhelds use common alphabet characters, while others use variations. Test the handwriting recognition on several PDAs to make sure you’re comfortable with the way they work.Other PDAs have built-in keyboards. Some of these also let you use a stylus, which substitutes for a mouse for navigating through on-screen menus and controls. External keyboards are available as accessories for many smaller PDAs, such as HP iPAQs. Read iPAQ Accessories (link to article delivered on 9/19) to learn more about advantageous add-ons.
Some PDAs can be upgraded (you may be able to add software from the Web or other sources), and some PDAs offer more software applications than others. You also may be able to add memory or removable storage to a PDA, or connect it to an external monitor or a network. Printers and external keyboards can be added to many PDAs as well.