Pda comparison tips: Choosing the best pda for you

Before you move on to pda comparison charts and start reading pda reviews, it is important that you prepare yourself first.

Start by clarifying your personal needs and getting the overall picture of various pda features and their relevance for you. Without such a picture you may be misled by some pda comparison charts that are limited to only most obvious, but often not most relevant, pda characteristics, or that only emphasize the strongest features of the specific handheld computer brand they are promoting.

Note that a simple pda rating by price is not a good strategy in finding the best pda. The most expensive pda may actually appear the worst for your personal needs. You may be paying a lot for features that you don't use, or, even worse, for features that only make your every day pda use more complicated and less convenient.

First, think about, or even write down, your different expectations for how a pda could help you in your every day activities. Prioritize. Which of those expected benefits are most important for you and you are most likely to use in practice? For example:

  • Do you want to have an effective personal organizer for your appointments, plans, and contacts?
  • Do you also want to run certain software relevant for your business? (Like a database of real estate or customer information)
  • Do you want to minimize distractions or would rather turn your pda into a portable entertainment center?
  • Do you need to check your email from a pda? Or you come by your desktop or laptop computer often enough to do it more conveniently from there? The same question for pda internet browsing? (Note that pda internet browsing convenience is relatively far from that on an ordinary computer, due to much smaller screen)
  • Or maybe you just like the feeling of having all the newest technology advances in your hand held computer, no matter that you use them only occasionally, if ever?

Have you ever used any hand held computer before? If yes, what can you learn from that experience? What features worked best for you? If this is your first pda, it is wise to go more conservatively and start from a more basic model. If needed you can always move to more advanced models later, as you learn and as you clarify your specific needs and tastes from experience.

Need wireless connectivity?

If you want to check emails, browse the internet, or connect to remote computers from your pda, you need a wireless enabled piece. The main kinds of options are BlueTooth, wireless ethernet (Wi-Fi), and a cellular phone type (like GSM or PCD).

BlueTooth is the simplest and most short range option: you can connect to another computer in the same room or to a BlueTooth enabled cell phone, and then connect to the internet via those devices.

Wireless ethernet is still short range (within 300 feet or less) and allows you to connect to only non-mobile local network or computer, not to a cell phone. Wireless ethernet also consumes more battery power.

Finally, there is also a cell phone type wireless connection (like GSM or PCS). The type of wireless connection is included in most pda comparison tables or charts.

Note that there are also pdas that are integrated with cell phones. How convenient is such a practice depends much on your personal situation.


Pda memory size is another commonly used parameter in pda comparison. Most of the currently available Palm OS handheld computers have more than enough storage for basic organizing purposes, like appointments, to do lists, and contact information, and for at least a limited set of additional helpful software. You will need more storage if you plan to use memory demanding software or large databases.

In some cases, like when dealing with many mp3 files, it may be more practical to use a removable memory card (like memory stick or SD card). Check whether the pda you are about to buy has a removable memory card slot (this is also typically mentioned in pda comparison tables).

Display quality

While pda comparison tables typically focus on if the display is color or monochrome, it is often more important how readable the display is, and not only under normal lighting conditions, but also in sun light and in the dark.

For pda comparison purposes, another important characteristic of the display is its resolution. Higher resolution displays, such as those on Sony Clie pdas, allow more information to be shown at a time, as well as give higher quality images.

Weight, thickness, and feel

Also think about where are you most likely to carry your handheld. Always in your bag or briefcase, or rather in your pocket? Most likely, not any pda will easily fit in your pocket. And the heavier and larger the device, the less likely you are to take it with you.

On the other hand, it is also important how your handheld feels in your hand. It may appear that the pda is too thin for your hand to hold it comfortably. Have a look and try!

Additional pda comparison info in pda reviews on Amazon.com
Get more insight into different pda models by comparing experiences of other customers.

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