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Finding the right PDA.

First, ask yourself what you want your PDA to do for you. Are you looking for a technical assistant that can perform calculations, store data and allow quick access to data? Or are you looking for just the basics, like handy access to a calendar to plan your next meeting and the ability to take quick notes?

Second, ask yourself if you want a combo device that has both a phone and a PDA. If so, do you use the phone a lot, but don't want to carry a separate calendar around? Or do you use a PDA constantly and prefer to dispense with a separate pager or cell phone?

Today's PDA marketplace offers a range of choices, including single-function devices, combo devices that exclude phones and PDA/phone devices, each with distinct design differences. Two PDA software systems illustrate the different approaches:

* Palm, still the reigning market champion, is for those who believe the PDA is not a personal computer but rather an intelligent extension of the PC.

* Pocket PC, the Microsoft version of a PDA, is just the opposite. It's designed to run with a thin version of Windows, and is built from the ground up to operate as a hand-held PC, not as a peripheral to a regular PC.

Within these two options is the hardware cell phone/PDA combo. Some products on the market today are designed in the rectangular form factor now commonly accepted for a PDA and have many of the functions of a cell phone; some even have a touch screen keypad vs. real buttons.

Palm and Pocket PC devices are available in both phone design groups, so it's important to make the decision on which PDA system (Palm or Pocket) you want separate from which phone device you want. This will significantly reduce your choices, and make what seemed like an impossible decision much easier.

Bottom line: I use the Kyocera Smartphone 7135. It's a cell phone first and a Palm Pilot second. It does both cell phone and PDA very well though, and has a rich feature set to explore and further expand productivity. I sync it to two separate PCs--one at work and one at home. I charge it in the car and at work, and it's compatible with all the other devices in my office.

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Title Annotation:Technology CENTRAL
Date:Dec 1, 2003
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