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How Does a PDA Work?


If you are in the market for a PDA (personal digital assistant) you may be interested in first understanding how it works. Although the numerous PDAs come with a wide variety of features, they all work the same way. The main differences between PDAs are their operating systems and software applications. The PDA will not work without an operating system, software applications, and synchronization with a host computer. Moreover, individuals cannot customize their PDAs without OS, software, and synchronization.

Basic Principles

PDAs were designed to work with computers and other mobile devices. This is why all PDAs have some type of display screen, RAM, CPU, operating system (OS) and software applications. Many of the newer models also have internet access capability through Local Area Networks (LAN).

In order for a PDA to load applications, updates, and changes to their operating systems or settings a process called synchronization occurs. Synchronization is the communication that occurs between the PDA and its host personal computer or server. Synchronization can be done through either a desktop management program or an individual application on the personal computer.

Some people refer to this as sync, docking, or cradling, depending on what type of device is being used to connect the PDA to the computer. Most devices use a cable, docking unit, or cradle that connects to a USB port. In some cases, the synchronization occurs over the Internet or wireless networks, or from PDA to PDA. Some PDAs can use an infrared connection (IR), Bluetooth, 802.11x, or Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) technology to connect with the Internet.

Basic Process for Synchronizing

The process for downloading and installing (synchronizing) new software applications is the same for all models of PDAs. The usual steps are as follows:

  1. Download the software file onto the host computer’s desktop.
  2. Connect the PDA to the host computer, either through a cradle, cable, or docking device directly into a USB port.
  3. Run the sync software by either pressing the proper button on the PDA or its cradle, or by opening the sync program on the host computer.
  4. Go to the computer’s desktop; double click on the downloaded file that is to be installed on the PDA.
  5. An installation wizard should then open. Follow the instructions given by the wizard for the remaining process.

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