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What is a Mobile PDA?

Daniel Liden
By Daniel Liden
Updated May 16, 2024
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A mobile PDA, or personal digital assistant, is a portable, hand-held communication device. Many PDAs have access to the Internet and can serve as portable phones. Generally, they are small and powered by rechargeable batteries that can last a day or more. They almost always serve a wide variety of purposes; some can even take photos and record videos. Many individuals rely on mobile PDA's on a day-to-day basis for use in both business and personal communication.

When mobile PDA technology was initially introduced, a PDA served essentially the same purpose as a personal organizer. It could contain schedules, phone numbers, addresses, memos, and other simple pieces of data. Some later PDAs could also play music and video, but this was uncommon because small hard drives were not particularly common or cost-effective at that point. A major breakthrough occurred when PDAs could connect to the Internet, allowing users to check e-mail and, eventually, browse Web sites. A mobile PDA can now serve as a full Internet browser; PDAs are often connected to the Internet through a wireless cellular phone network.

Many mobile PDAs can also serve as cellular phones; these are known as smartphones. Generally, they also allow for the sending of text messages. Many find this combination of communication functions to be very useful. This is particularly true in business, as it is often essential to stay constantly in contact with others to make informed business decisions.

As hard drive technology is constantly improving, it is no longer difficult to find a mobile PDA that can also serve as an audio and video player. In many cases, one can download music and videos from the Internet directly to the mobile device. Audio and video can usually also be synchronized to an audio and video library stored on a personal computer. Many PDAs even have the ability to record audio and video directly. This wide range of functions reduces the number of devices that one must carry at any given time.

There is a variety of other capabilities that a mobile PDA can have, though many are not equipped with these. Some can serve as global positioning systems, or GPAs. Others have significant international capabilities and can be used effectively almost anywhere in the world. Still others have a wide variety of applications, such as calculators and e-book readers, that add to their already varied functions.

A mobile PDA does have some limitations because of its size. There is little room for internal components, so small components must be used. This tends to result in a slow processor, small hard drive, and low memory, limiting the speed and storage capacity of the device. Multi-tasking, in particular, is usually difficult on a PDA because of the speed of the device's processor. These limitations, though, are becoming less and less of an issue as technology improves.

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