Personal Digital Assistant (PDA)

A PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) is a computer that fits in your hand. These small computers are sometimes called palmtops and are a great way to store telephone numbers, email addresses, access the internet, make calculations, keep a digital calendar and play games.

PDA has a small screen usually bigger than a digital phone. While components and specifications change throughout the years, today you can find PDA’s with lots of RAM memory, storage in either miniature hard drives or compact flash cards or sticks and some can be expanded by a PC card that fits into a PCMCIA slot. Newer palmtop computers have USB ports to plug in a variety of peripherals to use with your PDA.

Below are some typical features you will find in modern PDAs

  • Integrated WLAN adaptors
  • Integrated microphone and speaker
  • 240×320 screen resolution
  • USB ports
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer

The operating systems are specially designed for PDAs, the performance depends on the processor speed and memory, a typical PDA would boast a 300MHz processor and 64MB of ram.

The main purpose of a personal digital assistant (PDA) is to act as an electronic organizer or day planner that is portable, easy to use and capable of sharing information with your PC. It’s supposed to be an extension of the PC, not a replacement.

All PDAs come with some kind of personal information management (PIM) software that typically handles the following tasks to keep you organized:

  • Store contact information (names, addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses)
  • Make to-do lists
  • Take notes
  • Track appointments (date book, calendar)
  • Remind you of appointments (clock, alarm functions)
  • Perform calculations

Run Application Software
PDAs can run specialized software applications:

  • Windows Mobile devices come with Pocket versions of Word, Excel, Internet Explorer and Outlook (includes e-mail and PIM functions), along with Windows Media Player and voice memo recording.
  • Most Palm OS devices include applications such as DataViz Documents to Go (compatible with Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint), palmOne Media (for photos and video), VersaMail e-mail software and web-browsing software.
  • All types of devices can run other kinds of software including games, multimedia, expense, diet and exercise, travel, medical, time and billing, and reference.

Synchronize With PCs
Because PDAs are designed to complement your PC, they need to work with the same information in both places. If you make an appointment on your desktop computer, you need to transfer it to your PDA; if you jot down a phone number on your PDA, you should upload it later to your PC.

Synchronization software on the PDA works with companion software that you install on your PC. Microsoft Pocket PC devices use ActiveSync and Palm OS devices use HotSync synchronization software. On your computer, you also need an application like Microsoft Outlook or the Palm Desktop that holds PIM information on the PC side.

The beauty of synchronization is that you always have a backup copy of your data, which can be a lifesaver if your PDA is broken, stolen, or completely out of power.

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