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What is a Bluetooth® PDA?

By R. Kayne
Updated May 16, 2024
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A personal digital assistant (PDA) is a handheld computer, sometimes referred to as a palmtop. The Palm® Treo™, BlackBerry®, and Apple® iPhone™ are a few examples of popular PDAs. A Bluetooth® PDA incorporates Bluetooth® technology, the ability to network the device wirelessly with other personal electronics.

The PDA started out as a basic electronic organizer, but has been evolving for many years, growing in features and improving in productivity. Today’s top-class PDAs can function as a daily organizer, calendar, address book, cell phone and Internet browser. Many other functions are also built-in to make the PDA an indispensable tool for business and home users alike.

PDAs incorporate a tiny QWERTY keyboard for thumb typing. The keyboard allows one to enter memos, send text messages, answer email or update the calendar and daily organizer. While functional for the road, PDA software can also be installed on the office or home computer so that data can be entered on either device. To keep both sets of software updated, synchronization is necessary between the PDA and computer. During this process, any new entries in the PDA are transferred to the computer, and visa-versa.

Bluetooth® technology creates a personal area network (PAN) that Bluetooth®-enabled devices in the immediate vicinity can join to become interoperable. Bluetooth® is especially handy when it comes to PDAs because of the need to synchronize. If you do not own a Bluetooth® PDA, synchronization normally requires a USB cable to link the PDA to the computer.

In addition to a computer, a Bluetooth® PDA can also connect to any other Bluetooth®-enabled device, including a printer, cell phone, digital camera or digital music player. The only requirement is that the devices support the same Bluetooth® standard. Luckily it’s easy to add Bluetooth® connectivity to a device or computer by purchasing a USB Bluetooth® adapter. Current operating systems have built-in drivers for Bluetooth® support, and drivers are also widely available online.

Adding Bluetooth® capability to computers, laptops and printers can be used for many purposes in addition to supporting a Bluetooth® PDA. For example, using Bluetooth® networking one can wirelessly send print jobs from a laptop to a printer. Bluetooth® also allows one to easily trade files between a desktop and laptop without need of setting up a formal network using operating system protocols – a task that can be challenging to anyone who isn’t network savvy.

The beauty of Bluetooth® is that it is nearly effortless. Even a novice can quickly establish a Bluetooth® network and begin using it. If you are considering a palmtop computer, getting a Bluetooth® PDA will be a decision you will likely thank yourself for over and over.

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Discussion Comments
By Vincenzo — On Jan 18, 2015

@Markerrag -- I am not sure you can properly think of smartphones as falling into that PDA camp anymore. They rather evolved from PDAs, but that is kind of how technology advances. You take a PDA, add a cell phone to it and -- bam -- you've got a smartphone and that is something new.

By Markerrag — On Jan 17, 2015

I guess the Apple iPhone and other, similar devices do technically fall into the personal data assistant (PDA) category, but they are more commonly referred to as smartphones.

That does make a certain kind of sense. A smartphone may be able to do more than what an early PDA did, but they are typically used for the same purposes and the same people who loved PDAs in the beginning now use smartphones.

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