PDA Buying Guide: What to Consider When Choosing the Best PDA for Your Needs

Confused about which of the many PDAs out there is the best for you? To make your buying decision a lot easier, there are several factors you need to consider.

Your purpose for using a PDA

The first question that you must ask yourself before you check out the PDA options out there: “What will I use the PDA for?” Consider your lifestyle and needs—the PDA you choose must be able to match those.

For example, if you’re a frequent traveler and need to check your emails regularly, you need a Wi-Fi-enabled device so that you can access your emails in any place where there is Wi-Fi connection. On the other hand, you won’t need Wi-Fi connectivity if all you need is a digital version of an organizer or planner.

If you’re going to use a PDA as an extension of your computer, make sure that it allows for synchronization. A PDA must easily be synced with the software on your computer. For example, if you often use Microsoft Office apps such as Word, Excel, and Outlook, a Palm device won’t be able to deliver that functionality to you. Instead, look for PDAs that are compatible with MS Office programs.

Your memory requirements

Once you have identified your reason for buying a PDA, use this as a basis for choosing the right memory. Typically, PDAs come with 16MB, 32MB, and 64MB memory storage—the ideal one for you depends on the complexity level of your usual tasks. If you just need to record your appointments, events, and activities on a digital calendar and store the contact details of your family, friends, colleagues, and business partners, a 16MB memory will be adequate for your needs.

However, if you’ll also use a PDA for entertainment purposes, like listening to music, watching videos, and voice recording, you’ll need a bigger memory. If the internal memory of the PDA won’t suffice, you can opt to use an expansion card so that you can store more files in your PDA. But first, look for a model that has a slot to accommodate an expansion card.

Your preferred operating system

Pocket PC and Palm OS devices once dominated the PDA scene, but nowadays, people have more options when it comes to PDA operating systems.

  • Pocket PC – These devices operate on Windows, and as such, have versions of Microsoft Office apps such as Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint, and Word. These applications on Pocket PC version can be synced with the desktop versions. Pocket PCs also come with built-in Windows Media Player for playing videos and listening to music.
  • Palm – If you’re not using any Microsoft program, then a Palm device makes a good choice because it runs on a streamlined OS—meaning it doesn’t use up much memory and so, it can run faster. If you need to use MS Outlook, you’ll need a third-party software that will sync your device with your Outlook email.
  • RIM Blackberry – These devices feature a speakerphone, keyboard, browser, and organizer. They also allow access to email from a compatible Microsoft Exchange server or Lotus Domino.
  • T-Mobile Sidekick – If you have one, you’ll get the best of both worlds: a PDA with a mobile phone capability in one small package.

Now that you know the important considerations when choosing the right PDA, the next step is to look for one that meets your budget. Expect to spend more if you’re looking for higher-end models.