The General Components of a PDA
The use of personal digital assistants, or PDAs, as an electronic tool for organization started in the mid-1990s. Early models had expansion slots, which you could use to connect to external modems and cameras. In 2010, with numerous cell phone networks available, PDAs are nearly interchangeable with smart phones, and they share several general components.
PDAs offer many communication choices. You can develop a contact list that contains names, addresses, emails, phone numbers and special dates that link to the calendar (such as birthdays and anniversaries). From that contact list, you can make phone calls, send text messages or prepare emails. You also can place phone calls directly, either with a phone pad or voice commands.
Cell phone providers also provide internet connectivity. This allows for web browsing and the continuous ("push email") receiving of emails from your email provider.
Organizers: Calendars, Task Lists, Notes & Memos
PDAs provide different ways for organizing time. Calendars provide daily, week, monthly and specialized views and many can be synced with other PDAs or PC-based programs. Task lists provide due dates (which can appear on calendars), status checks, reminders and repeat indicators. You also can take notes on the go with general notes pages, which you can name and categorize.
You can input information with a touch screen, stylus or your thumbs using a QWERTY style keyboard; some offer a combination of options. The keyboards can be physical (some may slide down for use) or virtual (accessed from a touch screen).
Media & Storage
Most PDAs provide internal digital cameras, video cameras and voice note recorders for taking and playing photos, video clips, voice notes and music. You can add to the internal memory with memory cards, and you can download your media files to your computer (for editing and storage) and to online websites for sharing.
Functions & Programs
Many PDAs offer pre-loaded functions, such as alarms, calculators or mobile versions of Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint. You can activate navigation systems using GPS technology. Applications (or "apps") are popular, and PDAs can download apps that cover a variety of subjects and interests, from personal finance, gaming, education, business, entertainment, music, social networking, health and more.