What Are PDA Computers?

What Are PDA Computers?

Calling a device a “PDA” seems a bit outmoded. The name is short for “Personal Digital Assistant” — there are no three words in the English language that remind me more of the 90s. We now call these devices “palmtops” or just refer to them by their brand name. You could argue that today’s “smart phones” are kind of like PDAs with a phone attached . . . and you wouldn’t be far off.

PDA computers are handheld electronic devices that can do what most laptop computers can do — basic computing with telephone and even fax capability as well as web-surfing and networking. A PDA computer works as a cellphone, fax machine, Internet device, and even personal organizer.

PDA Computers - Handheld Palmtop Computers

There are many different types of PDAs — most models work with either Palmtop software or a special version of Microsoft Windows known as Windows Mobile. All PDA models are meant to connect to your laptop or desktop computer, though you may have to buy some accessories to do that such as a cable or power cord. Synchronization between computer and PDA is one of the most popular features of this digital device, you can link up your email to your handheld device and do your work on the go.

A typical PDA computer has a pen or stylus-based input system. There are some PDAs that have tiny keyboards, but this isn’t the norm. Even the earliest PDAs were blessed with handwriting recognition — scribble in a word and the computer recognizes it and places it in a document.

Some more advanced PDA computers operate with voice input. You can get one of any of the above these days — some PDA computers use keyboard and stylus input, some use voice recognition or some combination of all three.

The first PDA computers came from Apple. You may remember the Newton MessagePad, considered the first PDA way back in 1993. It wasn’t a hugely popular item, though there is a population of Newton fans even today, some of whom are still using their beloved Newtons. Pretty soon after the Newton came out, a bunch of other companies developed similar products, so that today we still have new PDA computers appearing on the scene. Though major PDA computer manufacturer Palm (of Palm Pilot fame) just released some really bleak financial information and don’t appear to have a future in the business, there are plenty of other standout PDA computers being made.

Depending on the number of features you want and the model you select, a PDA computer will run you between $150 and multiple thousands of dollars. The sky’s kind of the limit, as new technology and fancy features are always popping up. A “middle of the road” PDA computer such as the HP iPAQ 210 costs about $400 depending on the retailer and has enough features to satisfy even the most gadget-crazed techie in your house.

A PDA computer is a useful tool for people on the go as well as the average computer user. Your PDA computer will replace your cell phone and grant you features like a calendar and organizer, a day planner, and all the computing power you need to get online. PDA computers are like little personal assistants, only you don’t have to buy your PDA flowers on Secretary’s Day.