November 10th, 2003, 12:45 AM
Personal Computers vs. Palm OS vs. PocketPC
Personal Computers vs. Palm OS vs. PocketPC
I am not expert in the PDA and PocketPCs field, I posted this so anyone with less knowledge than me. Please correct any factual errors you may see.
The differences of a PDA (personal digital assistant) and a computer is very significant design. First off you have many options for both, but to keep it simple, a computer is a device that runs a operating system, which allows you to either input information, export it or do other miscellaneous activities. Many things can be done with a computer, such as calculate math problems, word processing, internet browsing, and message other people with any other available instant messenging system. The downside of a computer is usually there is a huge bulky display, speakers, keyboards, mice, towers and other peripherals. T hese types of computers are called desktops. Furthermore there is an alternative for computers and you get much of the same experience if not everything; notebooks are getting smaller, lighter and more compact and they are getting more and more efficient.
Not to be outdone, Personal Digital Assistants, (PDAs for short) are super small, sleek and offer a great way of doing things. Originally PDAs were used for their contact management system, calendar, and to-do list functionality. As the technology has evolved, PDA capabilities have increased and today you can check email, browse the web, and edit documents with your PDA, and export and import them your computer. It may also be important to note, that you can solely use your PDA, as just that, and you may not want to use it with a computer, also you don't necessary need a PC any longer because a PDA performs it functions.
There are two main types of PDAs: Palm OS and PocketPCs.
Palm OS was the first to hit the consumer market and offer many things such as contact
management system, calendars, etc, etc. Since they were the first to be in the market, they still have a staggering command of over 70% of the market. Millions have sold, thus with the hugely popular success of the Palms; PocketPCs enter the market offering many of the very similar features. A PocketPC looks like a smaller version of the windows environment, which may or may not be to your liking, while Palm OS is more simple and less flashy. However there are many standout differences of the two. For example, if you would like to play games, PocketPCs have the superior hardware side of the market which offers better graphics and sound. While this may seem like a very valuable plus, the Palm OS is hands down a better organizer and with a better and more easy to use user interface. In addition, there are games for the Palm OS; just like the PocketPC, Palm OS games are done by individual authors rather than game companies as a whole. Because of this there is more freeware Palm OS games on the internet than there is PocketPC freeware games. With the Palm OS being in command in terms of simplicity, easy to use and software support. The PocketPCs claim to have better games due to its superior multimedia, color display, sound and graphics. That doesn't mean, the Palm OS doesn't have quality games on it. In fact, the Palm has a wide range of games for you to play on and enjoy; even if the PocketPC has a better multimedia experience.
On the hardware side of the PDAs; input devices are not limited to a keyboard like a computer is. Instead input devices can vary from either a pen like object, and touch screen monitor, in accordance with a handwriting recognition program, to using a keyboard, or making use of voice-recognition technology, where you talk to your PDA. In retrospect, the computer market can be said to be going in the same direction. Most PDAs, are powered by batteries, which are Lithium-Ion, Nickel-Cadmium or Nickel-Metal Hydride batteries.
The battery life depends on what kind of PDA you have and how long it is turned on, but you can always recharge your PDA. Memory is used instead of a hard drive and is used to store the basic programs, like a calendar and a memo diary, even the operating system, in ROM, (read only memory). (NOTE: Computers use RAM; random access memory). The huge advantage of "read only memory" is that when the PDA is turned on, your programs are available immediately. Any changes that are made, are stored automatically. The memory of a PDA can be upgraded or there may be an extra storage slot available on the PDA itself. As mentioned before, the operating system is stored in ROM and is worth noting on how it works. The operating system, handles pre-programmed instructions that tell the processor what to do. Different PDAs use different operating systems, for example: Palm OS (3Com) or PocketPC (Microsoft Windows CE). Palm OS takes up less memory and runs faster, while Pocket PC supports better color displays and may take more hardware to run.. Processors is the brain of any PDA and or PC. It synchronizes it's functions according to the instructions programmed. Processors used in PDAs are much smaller and considerably slower than those in computers, (desktops and notebooks.) With this disadvantage (depending on how you look at it, it can make it an advantage or a disadvantage), the processors used in PDAs is more than adequate to perform tasks in PDAs, granted it has good programmed applications on it. As with everything, what may be adequate now, might not be adequate in the future.
If you want to connect your PDA to your computer you will need a few things, your computer will need an access port, or input/output, such as an USB port, infrared interface, or wireless internet and email. Synchronization software is often needed, an example such as HotSync, makes it easy for you to connect your PDA to your computer and keep both systems up to date with any changes that have been made to entries on either the computer or PDA. This is useful for backing up your data.
More on the software side; the applications vary from one PDA to another, however you can find many of the same things on most PDAs, Software Applications vary from one PDA to another. You will find most on the following on some or most PDAs: a memo pad, notepad, calculator, expenses, to-do List, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Excel, Windows Media Player, a date book, and address list. However again depending on your PDA of choice, you may find alternative applications to Microsoft's products.
The final question comes to mind whether or not, you really need a PDA. Because if you don't really need it and will never use it, you will probally have ended up wasting a lot of money. But if you find you are forgetful or you just want to better manage your time, or save money by what the secretary is doing, then by all means invest in a PDA. Since they are very similar, you should try both in the store and decide what your budget can afford. The fighting over which one is better will never end, it just comes down to the price, and what kind of preference you have.