Guest Author - Kathryn K Free
PDA's in the Future
PDA's (Personal Data Assistant) come in all sizes and shapes today. When they were first introduced they were intended for the business side of life, called ‘electronic day planners.' Their biggest advantage over the hand written manual day planner was the synchronization with the desktop PC. All notes, appointments were backed up, accessible at all times and synchronized with a touch of a button. However, today PDA's are intended for every side of life! The future is no longer just a calendar and task list, it has added photos, blogs, texts, video and voice. So what constitutes a PDA?
All PDA's will include basic features such as: a personal organizer, clock, calendar, calculator, address book, task list, memo pad and a few classic games like solitaire. They began with basic elements are fast evolving into powerful ‘mini' computers with their own style of operating systems. The four most popular operating systems are Apple, Palm OS, Blackberry and Windows Mobile.
Blackberry seems to be the most intuitive user friendly of the four. The Blackberry gives the user fewer keystrokes to reach a desired result. Roller ball wheel to toggle between options is unique to the Blackberry. Once you master this wheel you can navigate within the Blackberry quickly and efficiently.
Palm OS is not so easily navigated. Programmers wrote it and the navigation seems to be based from their point of view. Once you learn their methods and way of thinking Palm OS is very powerful. The Palm just is not as smooth in its navigation and ease of use. Palm OS runs on different devices also, such as Sony Clie or Tapwave Zodiac.
Windows Mobile is an extension of Microsoft Windows, running a wide variety of PDA devices. Pocket PC is a little different class of PDA's but still considered a PDA.
Apple introduced the iPhone a few years back and the reception set Apple on the graph. By far the iPhone has propelled what a PDA or smartphone should be. All other operating devices are playing catchup with the iPhone releasing their own versions. There are literally thousands of ‘add-on' applications available for the iPhone. The speed is exceptional. It is fully touch screen operated and this does take some practice.
I mentioned Tapwave Zodiac above. This is known in the gaming world. PSP's (Playstation Portable) is strictly for specific types of games, the Tapwave Zodiac merged the PDA organizer into both a PDA organizer with added features like high-resolution screens and game controls.
Today's PDA devices are doing far more than the basics of a personal organizer. Memory continues to expand. Wireless communication through the WI-Fi network has enabled PDA's to incorporate features such as Bluetooth, sending/receiving emails, browse the web as well as act as a mobile phone.
The most compelling improvements I have seen with the PDA, Pocket PC or smartphone are the availability of ‘add-on' applications. As mentioned above the iPhone by far has their choice of thousands of ‘add-on' applications while other are beginning to catch up. With thousands of ‘add-on' applications you can personalize your PDA to meet your needs. It's like your own personal computer and what you place onto it is what you decide.
Add-on products are exciting. Every application is striving for their ‘mobile' version and so we can expect more features in the near future. I have listed several sites below where you can go find numerous applications for you PDA. The only thing to remember is what operating system you have and how much memory is available. There are FREE applications but most cost a few dollars.
PDA's seem to have become largely a niche product for business users. The new name for PDA is fast becoming ‘Smartphone', such as the iPhone. Smartphones have pretty much completely taken over the market, plus smartphones are less expensive while doing the same functions as the standard PDA
When you go shopping for a PDA or Smartphone consider the following:
1 ~ 64 MB to 128 MB is the avearage today so get the most memory you can. Be sure to question the difference between total memory (for running applications, etc.) and the memory used for data. There is a 3rd type of memory you need to be aware of, the non-volatile memory. This is the memory used if the battery runs down. Additional memory slots are available with most models so be sure to consider this.
2 ~ Decide what functionality is essential to you. Do you want your PDA to double for a video player, MP3 player, GPS navigator and/or voice recorder? Invest in a PDA that can expand so you are not looking for a new model next week! Just remember that some add-on's will cost extra money.
3 ~ Decide how often you will need Internet access. Will you want the ability to send/receive emails after you have synced up your data?
The future for PDA's is ever changing. I look forward to tomorrow and the changing world of the PDA.!