What to think about:
When I got my first PDA, there was only one choice: The Pilot. It was slow, clunky and not very suave. I saw the beauty behind the beast, and immediately became a PDA convert. Now, there is a huge array of PDAs out there to thwart any attempt to figure out which is which. When you go PDA shopping, here are the basics to look for. You most likely don’t need one with everything (and you could probably spend all that extra money somewhere else), so splurge where you have to, scrimp where you can.
Operating System: The two main operating systems are PalmOS and PocketPC. In a nutshell, PocketPC is more “Windows-like” and PalmOS is a more stripped down “on the go” OS. Ask your friend in both camps if you can try theirs out, or go check one out at the store. Beware, if you ask anywhere which is better, you are just itchin for jihad.
Battery Life: Depending on what you are doing with your PDA, battery life could be a massive issue. If you use yours just for appointments and phone numbers, you are probably pretty safe. If you use it for stock market projections, excel spreadsheets and playing games, you need to find the best battery deal you can.
Input Methods: Are you cool with learning graffiti on the palm, or would you rather have a more robust handwriting recognition system? Would you like a thumbpad keyboard included? Once again, try a few out and see what you like.
Interconnectivity: Do you just need to synch your information to your desktop, or do you need wireless capability? If you need to send and receive email and browse the Web, you most likely need wifi or Bluetooth connectivity. If you do need wireless capability, make sure you pay special attention to battery life.
What I use:
I have settled in with the Sony Clie PEG-20. My criteria was: it was small, cheap, had a hi-resolution screen (although grayscale, and not color) and it had a lot of memory on board. It does everything I need, but I had to scrimp on interconnectivity. I really wanted Bluetooth, but I couldn’t afford it this go around.
Never be afraid to buy last year’s model. You can usually get more than you need on the cheap. I paid less than $100 for mine.
PCMagazine's PDA Buyer's Guide
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