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P D What? An Introduction to PDAs (personal digital assistants), Palm Pilots, and other handheld computers Megan Fox Web & Electronic Resources Librarian JumpStart May 22, 2002 What are PDAs and handheld computers? What are the advantages of a PDA?

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Megan Fox Web & Electronic Resources Librarian fox@simmons JumpStart May 22, 2002

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P D What?An Introduction to PDAs (personal digital assistants), Palm Pilots, and other handheld computers

Megan Fox

Web & Electronic Resources Librarian

JumpStart May 22, 2002

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  • What are PDAs and handheld computers?

  • What are the advantages of a PDA?

  • What are PDAs most commonly used for?

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What are PDAs and handheld computers?

PDA: Personal Digital AssistantA small computer that literally fits in the palm of your hand. More limited than a desktop computer, but useful for calendars, address books, and increasingly, other applications

Handheld Computer:term sometimes used interchangeably with PDA, palmtop, or pocket computer; may imply a device in between a laptop and PDA; more memory, more features

The Palm m505

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The HP Jornada 567

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Stylus / Pen

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On-screen Keyboard

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Collapsible Keyboard

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Using the infrared port, can share information with other users, called beaming – no wires, no direct connections

Convenient for sharing business cards or calendar events, trading applications, and more.

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Synchronization of your data from the PDA to your desktop. Compares data entered on the PDA and on the desktop and makes one new, complete record of data in both places.

Most often sync through a cradle, which connects through a cable to your desktop computer. Also through a modem (dialup), an Ethernet connection, an IR port

Hot Sync Button

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PDA into a projector

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Common PDAs

Palm Pilot: IIIc, V, VII, m100, m130, m515

Handspring Visor: Pro, Edge, Prism

Compaq iPAQ: H3760, H3870, H3850

HP Jornada

Sony Clio

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Key Differences in Devices:

Physical Characteristics

  • size/weight (1.4 oz to 1 lb)

  • grayscale/color (up to 64K colors)

  • Power

    • Memory (2 MB to 64 MB)

    • Battery Life (AA or rechargeable)

  • Cost ($99-$700)

    Peripherals (modem, memory, expansions cards, etc)

  • Operating System/Application Availability

    • Palm OS (considered easier; currently more applications)

    • Pocket PC (version of Windows; includes watered-down Office)

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    Comparisons and Recommendations

    • Excellent synopsis from University of Iowa’s pilot project:


      • Handheld computers

      • Palm OS Handheld computers

      • PocketPC Handheld computers


      • Mix and match any list and get comparisons


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    What are the advantages of a PDA?

    • Mobility (On-the-go, 24/7 access)

    •   Simplicity (Ease of use and understanding)

    •   Functionality (Perform an assortment of activities)

    •   Organization (Keeps schedules, tasks, e-mails, documents and other forms of information consolidated and coordinated)

    •   Low Cost (Extremely cost-effective relative to other forms of computer technology)

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    What are PDAs most commonly used for?

    Calendar/Date Book

    Address Book/Phone Book


    To do/Lists

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    Address Book

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    Memos/ To Do Lists

    Desktop (Palm)

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    Traditional Documents: Word, Excel, Powerpoint

    • InstallBuddy from (converts files to PDA readable format)

    • Documents To Go (word processing and spreadsheet editing, presentation viewing)

    • Pocket PC or Windows CE devices have mini-Office applications

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    Desktop (Palm)

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    Even PowerPoint!

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    Other Fee or Free Applications

    • Software warehouses:

      • Handango

      • Tucows

    • For example:

      • Brain Forest (project mapper/manager)

      • Due Yesterday – academic scheduler

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    PDA does not equal Wireless!

    Dialup modem/ISP

    Same as for a regular computer – about $10-20/mo

    Wireless modem/ISP

    About $60/mo

    Infrared to Network

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    Clarinet Systems IrDa

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    Web Content on a PDA

    Offline: Web Clipping

    • Coola (find content on desktop Web & “clip” it for later reading on Palm)

    • Avantgo (pre-selected channels of content, e.g. NYT, dumped on sync)


    • Live, using a browser such as Internet Explorer or My Palm

    • Web Sites: Palm Friendly (WAP, WML)

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    What web content looks like on a PocketPC

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    What web content looks like on a typical Palm

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    What “PDA-friendly” content looks like on the desktop

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    Locating Web Content for the PDA

    • Search Engines

      • Google

      • All the Mobile Web

      • Mopilot

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    Providing Content for a PDA:

    Many Content Conversion/Service

    Providers, for example:

    NearSpace ( and Town Compass ( manage event lists, directories, and other handheld application; used by many academic institutions.

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    How easy is it to manage a Palm or PocketPC?

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    Desktop (Palm)

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    PocketPC - Just Another Drive

    Desktop (PocketPC)

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    PocketPC Basics

    It’s Windows!

    Opening Screen

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    Primary Uses of PDAs in Academia

    Personal Productivity

    address books, calendars, email, calculators, simple word processors (to do lists, memos), spreadsheets

    Informational Content

    news and events, hours of service, directory information, how-to and instruction guides (including PDA help, location of syncing stations), portable e-books, dictionaries, and similar reference tools, library content

    Instructional Content

    provisions of syllabi and assignments; students take notes while in class and record notes, laboratory data, observations, etc. “in the field”; faculty and students share documents from a networked folder

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    PDA Projects in Academia

    Hear more tomorrow

    10-11 in L-102

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    • Compatibility

    • Convergence

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    Pros: Easy navigation; Palm or Pocket PC look and feel; lots of storage; beamable.

    Cons: No desktop synchronization; requires PDA for upload; bulky.

    Company: Fossil Phone: 1.800.449.3056

    Price: $145

    Fossil Wrist PDA,23008,3362300,00.html

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    Handspring: Treo 180 $399 (w/ service activation)

    Presentation and links available at http web simmons edu fox pda html l.jpg

    Presentation and links available at:

    Megan Fox

    Web & Electronic Resources Librarian

    Jump Start, May 22, 2002

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