Overview Since the release of Palm
Computing’s Palm Pilot in 1996, the hand-held device market has
skyrocketed--both in sales and in number of manufacturers. The first PDAs
(personal digital assistants) were inexpensive pocket sized devices
designed to store addresses and appointments. As newer, more modern
technology became available, the number of functions PDAs could perform
increased as well. Currently, PDAs can be used to play music, take
pictures, send e-mail, and even make telephone calls.
General Information and History of PDAs
History Attempts at creating
commercially viable hand-held devices began in the early 1980s when Psion
released a cigarette pack-sized organizer and address book device called
the Psion I. Following Psion's lead, Apple Computer Inc., built the Newton
Message Pad in 1993. This device was the first to incorporate a
touch-sensitive screen and handwriting-recognition software. In 1996, US
Robotics released the Palm Pilot and the PDA market exploded. For more
details about the development of PDAs, go to cctr.umkc.edu/~jblong/hist.htm.
Hand-held devices have come a long way from simply storing addresses and
phone numbers. The first Psion devices featured a monochrome
sixteen-character screen and a 10-kilobyte storage capability for basic
organizer and address book functions. The first Palm Pilot devices
appeared on the market ten years later and allowed people to enter
information by ‘writing’ on a touch-sensitive screen using a stylized
alphabet called Graffiti. The Palm Pilot also introduced new
functionality, such as automated synchronization between the Palm Pilot
and a PC.
In the last five years, PDA's have been
developed with faster processors (over 200 MHz), larger memory (over 64
MB), color displays, and multiple functions including Internet access,
additional software, and multiple operating systems. Advancements in PDA
technology continue to occur monthly. Below are some sites that will help
you to keep up-to-date on the changes.
The site, www.mobiletechreview.com
features hardware and software reviews as well as specifications for the
current PDAs on the market. www.pdagold.com
has links to articles about PDAs in the media, a buyer’s guide, and
platform-specific PDA information.
The Pocket PC Central site, http://pocketpccentral.net,
often announces and reviews cutting-edge hand-held devices. You can find
detailed product reviews for devices that use PocketPC and Palm OS
platforms at this site. This site the-gadgeteer.com is dedicated to
reviewing and describing new computer gadgets including PDAs and other
small data-storage devices.
The site www.handhelds.org,
who's goal is to "encourage and facilitate the creation of open
source software for use on handheld and wearable computers" provide
software reviews, downloads, documentation, and numerous other resources.
Where to buy PDAs Most PDA
manufacturers have on-line links from which to purchase their products.
PDAs can be purchased from an independent merchant or directly from the
manufacturer. For example, http://shopper.cnet.com
is a comprehensive Handhel/PDA shopping web page with product categories
ranging from hardware to software as well as add-ons. The site http://geek.pricegrabber.com
also provides a list of the top 25 PDA devices and accessories as well as
shopping links including specials and reviews that are updated twice
Major Brands of PDAs Palm Computing,
Casio, and Compaq are three of the most popular PDA manufacturers.
Hewlett-Packard and Handspring are not far behind. The PDAs manufactured
by these companies vary in price, size, performance, and even in which
platform they use. Below is some information to help you distinguish the
products that are currently available.
Computing is the company that manufactures the Palm Pilot. First
pioneered by US Robotics, the Palm Pilot proved to be so popular that the
division was able to spin off into its own company. Palm Computing has an
extensive line of PDA products, accessories, and software. Visit their
site at www.palm.com/products.
manufactures PDAs that use the BlackBerry OS operating system. This
proprietary operating system is produced by Research in Motion through
cellular telephone companies. The BlackBerry supports e-mail, mobile
telephone, text messaging, web browsing and other wireless information
services. You can can find out more about BlackBerry and its
services at www.blackberry.com.
offers the iPAC line of PDAs that have wireless networking
capabilities, color displays, and a long list of compatible software
including versions of Microsoft Excel and Word. These devices use the
Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0 for Pocket PC, Premium Edition platform that
runs numerous applications including games, an MP3 player, and various
software applications. For descriptions, pricing, and availability go to this
entered the personal digital assistant market in 2002 with the debut of
the AXIM family of PDAs that are Windows Mobile-powered Pocket PC devices.
The Dell Axim delivers performance, connectivity, and a briliant VGA
display at an affordable price. For more information about Dell's Axim
handheld devices go to www.dell.com.