Synchronization[ edit ] Most PDAs can synchronize their data with applications on a user's computer. The strokes are often simplified character shapes, making them easier for the device to recognize. This allows the user to update contact, schedule, or other information on their computer, using software such as Microsoft Outlook or ACT! Other PDAs come only with their own proprietary software. This eliminates the need for the user to update their data in two places. Specialized folding keyboards, which offer a full-sized keyboard but collapse into a compact size for transport, are available for many models. Few current models use this technology, as it has been supplanted by Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. It's also possible to transfer files between PDAs that have Bluetooth.
The user interacts with the device by tapping the screen to select buttons or issue commands, or by dragging a finger or the stylus on the screen to make selections or scroll. This allows the user to update contact, schedule, or other information on their computer, using software such as Microsoft Outlook or ACT! Handwriting recognition , where letters or words are written on the touchscreen, often with a stylus, and the PDA converts the input to text. It's also possible to transfer files between PDAs that have Bluetooth. These " multi-touch " displays allow for more sophisticated interfaces using various gestures entered with one or more fingers. For example, if Gmail is used, information in contacts, email, and calendar can be synchronized between the PDA and Google's servers. Examples of synchronization software include: Some early PDAs were able to connect to the Internet indirectly by means of an external modem connected via the PDA's serial port or "sync" connector,  or directly by using an expansion card that provided an Ethernet port. Other PDAs come only with their own proprietary software. Some users find that data input is quicker on their computer than on their PDA, since text input via a touchscreen or small-scale keyboard is slower than a full-size keyboard. This is done through synchronization software provided with the handheld, or sometime with the computer's operating system. Specialized folding keyboards, which offer a full-sized keyboard but collapse into a compact size for transport, are available for many models. Synchronization also prevents the loss of information stored on the device if it is lost, stolen, or destroyed. Bluetooth can be used to connect keyboards, headsets, GPS receivers , and other nearby accessories. Wired connectivity[ edit ] While early PDAs connected to a user's personal computer via serial ports or another proprietary connection,[ specify ] many today connect via a USB cable. Some touchscreen PDAs, including Windows Mobile devices, had a detachable stylus to facilitate making selections. However, some PDAs may not have a touchscreen , using softkeys , a directional pad, and a numeric keypad or a thumb keyboard for input. These programs allow the PDA to be synchronized with a personal information manager, which may be part of the computer's operating system, provided with the PDA, or sold separately by a third party. Older PDAs from the s to typically had an IrDA infrared port allowing short-range, line-of-sight wireless communication. When the PDA is repaired or replaced, it can be "re-synced" with the computer, restoring the user's data. This eliminates the need for the user to update their data in two places. Wireless synchronization[ edit ] Some PDAs can synchronize some or all of their data using their wireless networking capabilities, rather than having to be directly connected to a personal computer via a cable. To have the functions expected of a PDA, a device's software typically includes an appointment calendar , a to-do list , an address book for contacts, a calculator , and some sort of memo or "note" program. Stroke recognition allows the user to make a predefined set of strokes on the touchscreen, sometimes in a special input area, representing the various characters to be input. Transferring data to a PDA via the computer is therefore a lot quicker than having to manually input all data on the handheld device. A virtual keyboard , where a keyboard is shown on the touchscreen. PDAs with wireless data connections also typically include an email client and a Web browser, and may or may not include telephony functionality.
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