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What Are the Different Types of Mobile Computing Devices?

Tablet computers may be used for mobile computing.
Some tablets have features comparable to a laptop computer.
Laptop computers are great for working on the go.
Smartphones, tablets and combination tablet-computers are among the newest mobile computing devices.
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  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2014
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There are many different types of mobile computing devices designed to make it easier to travel and conveniently access technology on the go. Netbooks are small laptop computers that typically feature built-in wireless networking, and are great choices for getting work done while traveling. Mobile computing devices with a smaller form factor, such as smartphones or tablet computers, are also quite popular, and often include many advanced features comparable to those found on a laptop computer. PDAs, though much less common, are another type of mobile computing device. Even simpler cell phones will frequently include Internet access, to allow users to check their email or to access instant messaging programs.

Small computers are some of the most versatile mobile computing devices. Netbooks, or ultra-mobile PCs (UMPCs), include many different features, making them similar in functionality to an actual laptop. They may not be able to handle the media or games that a larger computer can, but they are designed to be convenient for browsing the Web, working in word processing or other office programs, and sending emails. For people who travel a lot and want a light yet functional computer, this type can be the best choice; they generally feature built-in Wi-Fi, or offer the option to add the feature when purchasing the computer.

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Smaller devices can also function very well as mobile computing devices. Smartphones and tablet computers include many helpful features for getting work done, communicating with others, or enjoying media on the go. They may be more difficult to type on, but generally the convenience factor outweighs the downsides. PDAs are similar devices to smartphones, but are used less often now that smartphones are so capable. Many basic cell phones will also often include Internet access, which can be used for occasionally checking emails or instant messaging, though are not entirely practical for larger projects or more extensive work.

Vehicles may also feature mobile computing devices installed. These can include GPS components for navigation help, multimedia aspects for watching DVDs or listening to music, or even the ability to access and view files stored on a hard drive. These features are typically an extra-cost accessory in many vehicles, but for larger families with children, they can be an invaluable tool when taking long car trips. All of these mobile computing devices are designed to make work more convenient, and to better integrate technology with everyday life to increase enjoyment and productivity.

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seHiro
Post 7

@VivAnne - I noticed you put that all in the present tense. You must have had to get rid of your PDA, or maybe it broke, huh? That's a sad ending for such a good story!

I've always wanted a PDA. Even though cell phones pretty much are PDAs at this point, so having mobile internet and the ability to play games on a PDA isn't that unique, something about the shape and functionality of a PDA always seemed more appealing than using a cell phone for those same things.

I think the reason is that I think of cell phones as made for making phone calls. All of the other stuff is extra frills -- they're not what make a cell phone a phone, you know?

I guess you could argue that cell phones are not purely phones anymore, really. They've become this sci-fi like multiple-use personal digital computer with constant access to that universal network of human creativity, the internet.

Cell phones are now our phones, cameras, video cameras, watches, stopwatches, pedometers, GPS units, and more. How long is it going to be before we're all required to have a cell phone, because it's standard procedure for a person to have one?

VivAnne
Post 6

As far as mobile computing solutions go, mine came in the form of a PDA. Personal Digital Assistant, not Public Display of Affection! (My boyfriend still snorts when I say "I love my PDA.")

My PDA was a little HO Ipaq, which is basically the same brand as the Compaq laptops only in PDA form. It was small and silver, with a narrow frame on the sides, four buttons at the bottom, and a nice color touch screen.

Now, I do fiction writing for a hobby. This may sound bizarre, but I think my brainstorming worked so much better when I wrote things down on my PDA.

The PDA had no keyboard; I used the onscreen keyboard by tapping the touch screen with the stylus. It took forever, and there wasn't much space to write anything onscreen.

I could have used the handwriting feature, which lets you scribble on the screen like a notepad and then transcribes it, but I draw Os a funny way and the PDA never translated them into Os.

Anyway, in spite of the slow pace and small space to write, I jotted down dozens of story ideas on that PDA. I tend to write in a very wordy way while using a regular keyboard; I think the PDA forced me to be concise, which as good for me.

aishia
Post 5

@Hawthorne - I sure hear the name iPad a lot lately. Call me traditional, but when I think about mobile computing technology I still tend to think mostly of just laptops.

The iPad can't escape my notice, though, because it's popping up everywhere I go lately. I went to a drive-through espresso coffee place this week, and when I paid with my credit card the woman inside the tiny building didn't hand me a paper receipt to sign. Do you know what she did hand me?

That's right. An iPad with an app to sign receipts digitally on the screen and a stylus! I was a bit startled, but signed it all right and passed it back into the espresso building without incident. It got me thinking, though.

The iPad is really expensive. Isn't handing it out into a customer's car dangerous? I know they're trying to be innovative and use technology more, but it seems so risky when somebody could just drive off with it.

What I'm wondering is this: do iPads have some sort of tracking device inside that could easily be connected to a specific owner? Maybe the coffee place wasn't worried because anybody who stole the iPad would still have the device linked to them. Maybe, even, they could find the thief using GPS.

Hawthorne
Post 4

If you want a great wireless mobile computing device that can handle heavy graphics work, such as photography and editing hundreds of photos, you should try an iPad.

The iPad is considered a great device for photographers to take to the field with them. It's about the size of a Netbook, but has a much more powerful processor, a touch screen interface, and enough memory to upload several camera cards worth of footage before you have to clear it onto something else like an external hard drive.

As a photographer, this is really exciting for me. I just got hold of an iPad for the first time the other day, and I already love it to pieces.

I used to haul around a heavy regular laptop because a Netbook just couldn't handle the kind of graphics editing software I use for my work, but I have a feeling the iPad is here to stay.

ahain
Post 3

@LisaLou - I love my Netbook so much! As far as mobile computers go, Netbooks are actually superior to a regular sized laptop in one aspect: battery life. My Netbook, an ASUS EEE (pronounced "triple-E") PC, last a full eleven hours when the battery has just been charged.

That's with all of the settings cranked down, of course -- power saver mode is on, the screen's brightness is dimmed, and the sound is off. However, even with all of that on and set to regular levels the Netbook lasts a good eight hours, which is about four times as long as the average laptop's battery life.

A Netbook suits my needs. It can do all the things that I require of a computer: browse web sites, play music, play movies, chat on Skype with my friends via the built in web cam and speakers, and do word processing.

I edit novels for a living, and the Netbook works great for that, so I don't even own a regular sized computer. It's great, I can take work anywhere with me now!

sunshined
Post 2

I remember taking many family vacations with just a few books to read and an activity book to work on. Now, it is hard to imagine taking a trip without loading up the DVDs. I used to think this was a luxury, but with a family of young, growing kids, I have found it to be a lifesaver.

Having the ability to watch movies in the van makes such a difference when taking a trip. It really helps keep them entertained and not so fidgety. I try to pack some movies they have not seen before - this also helps the attention span and keeps them from fighting over which movie to watch.

LisaLou
Post 1

Sometimes you wonder how we ever managed without all of these mobile computing systems to choose from. I have used many of them and prefer different ones for different reasons. I love my smart phone because it is small, lightweight and I can easily check my email, facebook and twitter.

If I am going to be away from home for awhile though, I prefer to have something a little bigger for internet access than just my phone. That is when I use my Netbook most of the time. It is the perfect size for traveling because it is bigger than my smartphone, but not as big or heavy as a regular laptop.

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