Special Features

In case you don't already know...
By: Dave - September 7th, 2001

New to PDA's?  Don't worry, at one time, we all were.  Finding a device, using it, and talking about can often be more difficult then you might think.  This features will cover a few areas where people often get mixed up when talking about their device, looking for one, or even while using their device.  The market changes every six months, so it is understandable that people that aren't "PDA nerds", don't know what has changed.

First, not all handhelds/PDA's are Palm Pilots.  In fact, Palm Pilots are no longer sold, though Palm does make devices called Palms.  Another mix-up that goes hand in hand with that is a Handspring Visor is not a Palm.  It is a Visor, though it runs the Palm operating system (OS).  The whole "Palm Pilot thing" is really a big deal when someone has a Windows CE based device.  No, I don't have a Palm Pilot, I have a PDA.  For simplicity sake, I would just refer to all Palm, CE and other handhelds as PDA's.

Windows CE devices have different terminology problems.  Pocket PC's run Windows CE, but not all Windows CE devices are Pocket PC's.  Pocket PC also refers to Windows CE version 3.0.  So when someone says I have a Pocket PC, they have a device that has the Windows CE operating system (OS) version 3.0.  If they say they have a Palm PC, then their device has Windows CE 2.x (2.x just means version 2, 2.1, 2.11, or 2.2).  If someone says they have an HPC, then they have a handheld PC that run Windows CE but also has an attached keyboard.  Are you lost yet?

All devices have some kind of expandability.  When someone refers to a "PDA expansion", that is a very general term.  Often, you will find that if someone said a "Palm expansion" or a "Compaq expansion", that would be an expansion specific to that device, and often connects via a specialized connector on the bottom of the device.  There also are expansions like Compact Flash (CF), Secure Digital (SD), Multimedia Card (MMC), Memory Sticks, and PCMCIA, that refers to a type of expansion card.  All these products are based off a card that slides into a device with that kind of slot.  Often these cards are memory, but they can also be modems, network cards, or wireless solutions.  

Something that hasn't completely hit the market yet is wireless.  There are few things you should know about this.  802.11b is a type of wireless product.  You don't really want to know why it is 802.11b, it just is.  This solution is mid range, which means it goes a ways, but isn't really roaming internet.  802.11b is more for connection to a computer network wirelessly.  Bluetooth is another wireless network solution, though it doesn't go as far as 802.11b.  Bluetooth also is for network connections.

Feel like you know a little more?  Now you can start talking the PDA lingo, or at least speak it better!

Feel free to email me about your own PDA, questions, comments, articles, rumors, and reviews.  I can be reached at dave@davespda.com.