A PDA, or Personal Digital Assistant, is a portable, hand-held electronic device that is popularly used to communicate on the move. PDAs come equipped with e-mail and text messaging functionality, phone books, drawing software, global positioning programs, web browsers and touch-screens---making them a business person's answer to conducting transactions and accessing information on the go. PDAs, in spite of their numerous advantages, are associated with a few disadvantages which must be comprehensively looked into before purchase.
Fragile and Delicate
PDAs are not designed for rough use. They are delicate devices that are vulnerable to bumps, scratches and even fractures. Only a few specialised types are waterproof while most others are susceptible to failure if exposed to humidity. According to Peter Grego in the book "Astronomical Cybersketching," PDAs are prone to differences in temperature and shut down if they get too warm or too cold.
PDAs are susceptible to viruses, which can often erase and/or damage their contents. The Phage PDA virus, for instance, introduced in September 2004, infected programs and rendered them inactive.
PDAs on mobile networks are vulnerable to attacks and Internet breaches by other devices on the same networks. An appropriate PDA protective case and an updated virus protection software can effectively manage these risks.
Costs and Time Limitations
PDAs are expensive. The typical costs associated with them include their cost of purchase and upgrades and cost of maintenance (servicing and batteries).
According to Marc Mancini in the book "Time Management," PDAs are not always the most effective answer to business solutions. Paper-based organisers are a more viable option since PDAs are difficult to use, data entry is awkward, they are slow and novice users find them unnecessarily complex.
Limited in Scope
PDAs are limited in scope. They are neither laptop replacements nor can they be effectively used to replace mobile phones. PDAs are not equipped to deal entirely with micro-processing capabilities. Their display screens are small and most users find it difficult to navigate data on them. PDAs are limited in terms of memory and many require additional memory upgrades. According to Julie A. Jacko in the book "Human-Computer Interaction," tablet PCs provide better functions in terms of touch-panel navigation, battery capacity, handwriting recognition and storage. According to Agnes Kukulska-Hulme and John Traxler in the book "Mobile Learning," PDAs are not as powerful nor as convenient as other mobile devices and cannot replace entertainment and communications hardware, such as MP3 players.