Do you always battle with tonnes of information floating around in your gmail account, laptop and mobile phones? Have you wished all this was available on your fingertips? It’s time then to gift yourself a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA)—a smart toy that can do a bunch of things, from handling your emails, helping you with instant messaging and being your music and video player to taking pictures, keeping track of your appointments, phone numbers, to-do list, and more. You should, however, be aware of a few things before zeroing in on a model.
Most PDAs run on one of the two operating systems or platforms: The Palm OS from PalmSource or Microsoft’s Windows Mobile OS. Now, your choice of platform should depend on how you intend to use your PDA. Most devices provide the simpler approach towards operation: they synchronize appointments and contacts with the Palm OS’ proprietary personal information manager desktop software, the Palm Desktop, and come bundled with a program that syncs your data with Microsoft Outlook.
But the flip side is that you need a third-party software to create and edit Microsoft Office-compatible documents on a Palm OS device. The Windows Mobile OS is good if you are used to Microsoft. It is more complex to use than the Palm OS. But with most keyboard-equipped Windows Mobile devices, you also get pared-down versions of Microsoft Office applications such as Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
This lets you create and edit documents as you would on your desktop. Also, the Windows Media Player, which is integrated into this OS, easily handles MP3, WMA and other multimedia files.
External memory slots
Make sure your device has a storage card slot which can store music, photos, videos or applications.
Entry-level PDAs come with a standard 32MB of internal memory. Mid-range and high-range models come in at 64MB. Need more space? Get an external storage slot.
An inexpensive hand-held would, in most cases, not have email or Web access. Some mid- and upper-range models include Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or an integrated phone connection.
A good screen resolution will cost you extra. Cheap Palms have 160x160 screens, while mid-range and expensive models boast of 320x320 screens. Some high-end Windows mobile devices have quarter-VGA (320x480) screens.
If you really need it, you can get it. A camera on a PDA is a must if you love taking pictures. But, it eats up on the power and the memory really quickly. Average resolution ranges from VGA (640 by 480 pixels) to a growing number of 1 and even 2 megapixel models.
Let’s look at some popular PDAs available:
A compact smartphone with a semi- auto-sliding full Qwerty keyboard, the HTC S710 is powered by the new Windows Mobile 6 Standard platform which gives a genuine mobile Office Outlook experience, greater control of Outlook Mobile Calendar, better Internet Explorer Mobile browsing experience and Windows Live. It also offers greater inter-operability with Exchange Server 2007. This means improved email management (such as Fetch Mail and Set Flags), Out-of-Office assistant, and HTML email viewing capabilities. You can also view Microsoft Office documents and PDF files on the go using the document viewers on the phone.
Palm Treo 650
Optimized for multimedia with an Intel XScale processor, the Treo 650 makes managing calls very easy.
You can also carry your favourite tunes by simply transferring MP3 files from the desktop. The built-in digital camera is Bluetooth-enabled and is compatible with several wireless devices. The full-featured Web browser, optimized for fast, on-the-go Web access, has familiar features such as Back and Forward buttons, Home, History and Bookmarks, among others. You can also save HTML pages to an expansion card for viewing later.
O2 XDA Atom
The XDA Atom does look good in its piano black shiny casing. It also packs all the bells and whistles every PDA and phone user lusts for, including Microsoft’s Windows Mobile OS. It is, indeed, a good phone for those who favour size over an integrated keyboard. The integrated FM radio, a processor on rockets and its tri-band capabilities make it one of the best choices for an Indian executive on the move. The XDA Atom comes with O2 MediaPlus (an all-encompassing application with which you can play any video, music, FM radio or view pictures in a user interface that’s akin to the Windows Media Center PC style) and O2 SMS Plus (an interesting SMS software that allows you to text message in a chat-style format).
With its sleek and stylish design, the D600 also gives a large, 2.8 inch QVGA touch screen, a 2 megapixel camera, Bluetooth and an SD/MMC card slot. It also has a speakerphone with push-based wireless email, SMS capabilities, Web browser and personal organizer applications. There’s more. The Dopod D600 comes pre-loaded with Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0 and also includes applications such as DirectPush Mail, Internet Explorer Mobile, Office Mobile (Word/Excel/Powerpoint), Windows Media Player 10 Mobile, Pictures and Videos, and Pocket MSN. The PDA also has Voice Commander, which allows users to dial and control their music easily with their voice. A quad-band GSM Smartphone with GPRS support, the D600 runs Windows Mobile 5.0 on a TI OMAP850 processor that runs at 201MHz with 128MB of ROM and 64KB of RAM.