Computer Handheld PDAs

by Jason "The Southern Dandy" Dahlin

In today’s modern world, there is only one real static constant, and that is the fact that there are no constants. The world is always changing, growing and moving into new realms and places that can be very hard to manage. Luckily with the advancements in technology that have given birth to this hectic world, there have also been steps made to help people stay organized, letting them take with them everything we as a people need to keep us from being buried by a landslide of garbage. These new device, that can keep track of everything from your boyfriend’s birth date, to the time and place of the new Gucci sale, are called PDAs and are perfect for the modern man’s hectic lifestyle. Before you go out and buy one of these sleek little numbers, read our guide to what to look for when attempting to get organized.

Personal digital assistant (PDA) is actually a generic term for the crop of battery-operated, hand-held electronic devices on the market today. While a PDA cannot replace a standard-sized computer (at least not yet, with the introduction of the OQO, steps have been made to making this dream a reality), it often serves as an extension to one because of its portability and relative ease of use. PDAs are great for a wide variety of uses including, keeping daily schedules (you will never miss a facial again), jotting memos (reminding yourself to call that guy you met in the club last week) and looking up and recording personal information.

If you're considering purchasing a PDA, consider these important points before you buy:

Functionality: Some people use their PDAs solely as personal organizers to keep their schedules, address books and to-do lists and others use them for professional reasons, such as keeping track of work tasks, meetings, or appointment. Before you purchase your first PDA, you should have a general idea of how you plan to use it in your day to day activities. If you want to use it only as a replacement for your paper planner, consider purchasing a very basic PDA, however if you plan on using for more complex tasks, you may want to consider features that are discussed below.

Operating system: While there are many brands of PDAs (as there are many brands of lipsticks, dresses and handbags), most run on one of two operating systems: Palm OS or Windows CE. The difference between the Palm OS and Windows CE platforms is similar to the difference between Windows and Macintosh on home computers, but not quite as drastic. The two do not interface at all, nor can you interchange software written for them, making it a large item to consider when purchasing. PDAs manufactured by Palm and Handspring, among others, use the Palm OS, whereas Microsoft's Pocket PC and Handheld PC use the Windows CE platform. To determine which operating system is right for you, consider these factors:

The type of platform your colleagues/friends are using (so that you can exchange information easily),

Your personal preference: Windows CE looks similar in feel and interfaces well with Windows and other Microsoft products, such as Microsoft Word and Excel, on your personal computer. This familiarity can be comforting as you learn to use a new PDA. That is not to say that you can not use a Palm OS system with your computer, it just means it may take some time to get used to.

Connectivity: If you are looking to connect your PDA with your computer, make sure that you have the right connection ports to get the job done. Without the right inputs (most run off of USB or parallel) you will be unable to do things like sync your programs and transfer files between machines.

Features: Basic PDA models come with at least 8 MB of memory, which is plenty for most people who use PDAs mainly as electronic organizers. Most have built-in expansion slots so you can add memory, which is something that you may want to do if you want to install more intense software. You'll also need additional memory if you want to add some peripheral equipment, such as cell phones or digital cameras.

Screen Type: Although most PDAs are color, you can still save money by going with a grayscale or green background version.

Shelf life: The current shelf life of most computer technology is approximately three years, and PDAs are really no different. Most PDAs, even the ones with all the bells and whistles, will be obsolete in a few years, but this should not keep you from making a purchase now. If you were to live by this philosophy, you would never be able to buy a new piece of electronic equipment again.

All in all, if it is important for you to stay organized, as well as be able to take important information with you at all times, it may be in your best interest to purchase a new PDA. Just remember that you can find the best reviews and prices on PDAs, as well as every other piece of electronic equipment at Newbie.

Just remember that if you have any questions or comments that you can visit the Newbie forums. We have a dedicated staff of helpers that will answer any question that you stumble across.

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