A personal digital assistant (PDA) is an electronic device that was originally introduced as an electronic replacement for the paper organizer. This device that was meant to store one’s personal contacts (your personal phone book), one’s calendar, and one’s personal notes. This information was managed primarily through the PDA’s ability to be directly synced with one’s computer. Early models had wired connection, while others offered an infrared capability. In terms of additional functionality, by providing basic internet connectivity, some e-mail capability was possible, and PDAs were often able to communicate with each other, allowing users to trade contact information seamlessly.
Since the PDA was originally introduced, its functionality has grown significantly. Able to connect to the internet through cell service, intranets, or Wi-Fi, the PDA has become a chief competitor in the smartphone segment. While some PDAs are still available as standalone devices that do not include phone capability, the overwhelming majority have integrated phones.
Virtually all currently available PDAs provide users with web browsing capability, while many have even more advanced features. Where the originals used a touch screen that made use of a stylus, touch screen technology has expanded considerably. Some PDAs continue to make use of a stylus, but most have become functional without the need for the bulky add-on. With expanded memory options and integratable and downloadable software applications, the PDA or smartphone has risen to the level of indispensable accessory.
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While the term smartphone has essentially overtaken the moniker PDA, this is driven from each devices evolution. PDAs that added phones may still be referred to as PDAs. Phones that added PDA technology became known as smartphones. The terms are now interchangeable, but the name smartphone seems to be pushing the PDA title aside. In either case, the market for these devices has grown significantly with expert predicting that smartphones will replace either type of standalone device within the next several years.