What is a PDA?
A personal digital assistant (PDA) is best described as a handheld device akin to a smartphone, designed to help people organize their schedule while staying mobile. The earliest inceptions of the PDA held nothing more than addresses, phone numbers, calendar appointments and task lists, whereas the more modern PDA fulfills the role of cell phone with the ability to connect to Internet, fax documents and sync information to a personal computer.
The history of the PDA
The PDA was first produced in 1984 by Psion, though the device didn’t truly gain popularity until Palm Computing launched the Palm Pilot in 1995. Originally designed as a replacement for paper-based day planners, the PDA had a very humble beginning as an electronic tool. The extent of its functionality was managing appointments, storing telephone numbers, writing short notes and synchronizing with a computer.
The features of a PDA
PDAs still focus on their main purpose, which is to organize information. Calendar and task lists thus come pre-installed on PDAs, whereas some models come equipped with additional programs that make them suited to the role of a mini-computer. As such, the owner of a PDA can not only track their daily schedule, but they can also make last-minute changes to a document or other files while on the go.
Some PDAs come equipped with flash memory card capabilities, which drastically increase the storage capacity of the device. This allows users to install additional applications like office productivity software and other apps as needed. With the added compatibility of flash memory cards, PDAs can store, access and transfer nearly every kind of data out there, from spreadsheets to presentations to images.
The vast majority of PDAs in today’s world incorporate the use of cell phone functionality and wireless Internet. Adopting these features makes it quite difficult to differentiate between PDAs and smartphones as the latter now take over the role of digital assistants for new cell phone users.
Information is entered into a PDA through a variety of different means. The most common and popular of these is the use of a touch screen that can only be utilized with a stylus. Touch screens that register fingertip input are more common, but still aren’t overtaking the stylus design. Software typically included on PDAs allows for stroke recognition, which means a user can write out a pre-defined pattern which the PD A then interprets into an English character, akin to shorthand.
Additional uses for PDAs
The modern PDA fulfills many roles beyond organization when combined with smartphone technology. To make you even more productive, some PDA models include games, music streaming apps and even GPS functionality. Additional apps are released on an almost daily basis, increasing the functionality of these devices beyond organization assistants.