Portable digital assistants, or PDAs, are one of the latest pieces of must-have technology for millions of users. PDAs are pocket-sized devices that may combine a cell phone, camera, planner, Web browser and dozens of other useful features for business and personal use. However, there are several important advantages and disadvantages to owning a PDA that prospective buyers should weigh before deciding.
One of the main advantages of owning a PDA is the ability to keep in touch with people via e-mail, text messaging and phone. Because PDAs are so portable and networks so extensive, users can take them almost anywhere. This removes the need to access a computer with an Internet connection, and also turns activities like standing in a queue into an opportunity to do something productive.
Another benefit of owning a PDA is increased organisation. Calendar and list applications make it easy to keep track of appointments, make notes on the go and archive past conversations or other data. For many users, PDAs replace paper lists, business cards, address books, alarm clocks and other methods for organising information and puts it all in one place.
For some PDA users, the device has the added benefit of signifying a particular status. Company-issued PDAs may be reserved for higher-level employees and can come to signify a position of authority or importance. For personal users, having the latest PDA may be a sign of wealth or technological knowledge. Users can choose from custom ring tones, wallpaper images and case designs to personalise a PDA and turn it into a fashion accessory.
One of the biggest disadvantages of a PDA is the cost. Besides paying for the device itself, most PDAs require the buyer to subscribe to a usage contract. This involves a monthly bill and the possibility of overage charges if the user surpasses his allotted free phone minutes or data limits. The cost of a PDA increases with buying special software applications, cases, batteries, chargers and other accessories.
PDAs may also become a distraction when they're not fulfilling a legitimate need. The ability to be always connected can lead to wasted time surfing the Web, making phone calls or playing games. Some business users complain of being "on call" when their coworkers and superiors have the ability to contact them at any time. PDAs may also cause a distraction during activities that require full attention, such as driving.