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Choosing the best PDA or personal digital assistant can be challenging because there are so many available on the market. Each PDA comes with its own set of features and these are constantly evolving. Evaluation of what features are needed as well as paying attention to some consumer reviews is usually the best way to choose the right digital assistant and that choice may vary among individuals.
The first question people should answer before they shop for PDAs is what they need a digital assistant to do. They may need it to run certain programs like medical software or have extras like the ability to get online or function as a phone. The user may need a device to take pictures, run videos, have GPS capability, or play music. Determining what is needed from the PDA will help weed through the options.
Similarly, people should ask what features they don’t want. Perhaps a smartphone is undesirable because it means committing to a cellphone contract. Touchscreens are good for some people and others really prefer to use small QWERTY keyboards. Ability to play music or take pictures may be great for some people, or even necessary for others in business, but some find these features distracting and they can eat up memory space.
The issue of memory capacity is another consideration. People should think realistically about how much data they need to store on a PDA before they can download onto computers. If people have to travel for several days without computer access, they may want to look at devices with maximum memory storage. On the other hand, if they upload files to a computer every couple of hours they likely won’t need as much.
Another issue to consider is price. There are some PDA models that are slightly over $100 USD, and others that cost a lot more. Determining price point helps people narrow their choices to the best PDAs in their price range. Alternately consumers may decide if price range is unreasonable to get the features they minimally need.
Once some of these questions have been answered the next step is to start reading reviews of the PDA models that meet requirements and are within price range. There are plenty of tech reviews online or with independent reviewers like Consumer Reports. It’s not a bad idea to read some customer reviews too, and one of the best places to do this is a site like Amazon. These can’t always be fully trusted, but if there are many reviews suggesting problems with a PDA, it can be eliminated from the list of possible choices.
Lastly, people need to do some shopping, and they should plan to shop in person. It’s a good idea to hold, feel, and try out each model being considered to determine which models feels sturdy and comfortable in the hand. Usually if folks have gone through the list and selected the PDAs by software needs, price, reviews and then testing them out, they’ll find the best ones.
If you want a PDA with the following features:
Good battery life (more than three days) and a display which is readable in sunlight, you won't find any among the newer ones.
If you add to your wishlist: a hardware keyboard and an open system, your choices are even more limited, even among the older PDAs (the Nokia n810/n900 would still be under consideration).
If you additionally want decent PIM applications, then your choices drop to zero.