Enjoy the many convenient features that modern PDAs have to offer

A Personal Digital Assistant, or PDA, is a small, handheld organizational device with a display screen, a processor, and either internal or external memory. These devices range from simple versions with small amounts of memory to store basic information such as phone numbers, addresses, and appointments, to powerful machines with more versatile capabilities.

The most modern PDAs have color displays, wireless email capability, photo and music storage, and some devices are PDA and cell phone combinations. The memory capacity will vary along with the capabilities of each PDA. For some, a PDA with stylus touch screen in black and white and the memory to store contact information and appointment dates suits their needs. For others, the capabilities must go beyond the basics. Models are available that will interface with your desktop PC or laptop.

There are two major operating systems, or platforms, for PDAs. The first is PalmSource's Palm OS, and the second is Microsoft's Windows Mobile OS. Choosing a system should be based on the user's needs for performance. Palm OS, available on PalmOne, offers an easy-to-use, but powerful system. Windows Mobile OS is most like a scaled down version of desktop Windows with many of its capabilities.

PDAs are battery powered, with many of the older versions using AAA batteries. However, some newer models will contain a rechargeable battery source. Battery life depends on frequency of use, display screen, and how powerful the capabilities are. Obviously, PDAs with built-in cameras or color displays will use more juice than a black and white, basic model.

Inputting information is achieved with a stylus pen on most models. Using the pen and the onscreen keyboard display, touch screen capability allows users to simply touch a letter or number for input. However, some newer models have incorporated thumb-use keyboards so users can choose between handheld control and stylus.