How PDAs Work

PDA Features

Even the most basic PDAs handle standard personal information management (PIM) functions, run application software and synchronize with PCs. Here are some additional details about these basic features.

Handle Standard PIM Functions

All PDAs come with some kind of personal information management (PIM) software that typically handles the following tasks to keep you organized:

  • Store contact information (names, addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses)
  • Make to-do lists
  • Take notes
  • Track appointments (date book, calendar)
  • Remind you of appointments (clock, alarm functions)
  • Perform calculations

Run Application Software

PDAs can run specialized software applications:

  • Windows Mobile devices come with Pocket versions of Word, Excel, Internet Explorer and Outlook (includes e-mail and PIM functions), along with Windows Media Player and voice memo recording.
  • Most Palm OS devices include applications such as DataViz Documents to Go (compatible with Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint), palmOne Media (for photos and video), VersaMail e-mail software and web-browsing software.
  • All types of devices can run other kinds of software including games, multimedia, expense, diet and exercise, travel, medical, time and billing, and reference.

Synchronize With PCs

Because PDAs are designed to complement your PC, they need to work with the same information in both places. If you make an appointment on your desktop computer, you need to transfer it to your PDA; if you jot down a phone number on your PDA, you should upload it later to your PC.

Synchronization software on the PDA works with companion software that you install on your PC. Microsoft Pocket PC devices use ActiveSync and Palm OS devices use HotSync synchronization software. On your computer, you also need an application like Microsoft Outlook or the Palm Desktop that holds PIM information on the PC side.

The beauty of synchronization is that you always have a backup copy of your data, which can be a lifesaver if your PDA is broken, stolen, or completely out of power.