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What is a PDA Smartphone?

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  • Written By: R. Kayne
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 21 September 2016
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A PDA smartphone is a personal digital assistant (PDA) with an integrated cell phone. A PDA is a palmtop computer with its own operating system and applications, geared towards organizational tasks. Scheduling calendar, to-do-list, address book and notepad are examples of standard software packages. Online capability with built-in browser also allows for email and Web access, and current models incorporate a digicam for taking still shots or short movies. Other optional features on some models include touch-screen technology and built-in music player.

The advantage of a PDA smartphone is that there is one less device to carry around for those that require organizational applications. Even people who have only used a standard cell phone might find the integrated PDA keeps them better organized, extending the usefulness of the phone. Models with an integrated music player can eliminate yet another device for many, and the included digicam will ensure life’s little moments are recorded for posterity even when a separate camera is not along for the ride.

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The calendar, address book and other applications on the PDA smartphone can be synchronized with a computer to avoid having to enter or delete information separately on multiple devices. The software required to do this is included with the PDA smartphone. Installed on the computer, it then connects the device to the computer one of several ways. Upon connection, the software checks the computer’s data against the PDA’s data, updating the necessary device as needed. Data on the PDA smartphone can also be backed up to the computer for safe keeping.

There are several ways to connect a PDA to a computer. The traditional way is through a docking station or cradle which comes with the device. The station or stand is connected to a wall outlet to recharge the PDA whenever it occupies the cradle. A USB cable connects the cradle to a computer. Place the PDA smartphone in the cradle and you can recharge it, back up its data or synchronize it.

An alternate method is a proprietary USB cable that runs from the PDA phone itself to the computer. The PDA uses the power available from the computer’s USB port to recharge its batteries, and can synch and backup data when connected. The advantage of this method is that it avoids the clutter of a docking station. The disadvantage is that the computer must be powered up for the PDA to recharge itself.

A third method for synchronization is to use the PDA’s built-in Bluetooth® technology to connect to a Bluetooth®-enabled computer. Bluetooth® is a wireless networking standard that uses radio frequency (RF) waves to communicate over short distances. The advantage is that this method does not require cabling. A disadvantage is that the computer must also be Bluetooth® enabled, which might mean buying a Bluetooth® networking adapter.

A PDA smartphone with built-in Bluetooth® is also handy for swapping pictures or data with other personal digital electronics that share Bluetooth® capability. This would include cell phones and friends’ or associates’ computers. You can also perform tasks like sending a print job wirelessly to a Bluetooth®-enabled printer.

PDA smartphones are available from cellular carriers and third party distributors. Before buying from a third-party, be sure the model is supported by your carrier of choice. Plans for cellular broadband might be separate from the cell phone plan included with the PDA smartphone, and remember to ask about roaming charges.

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