Techno-geek Translation of PDA Terms
by Marty Couret, MSN, NP

Beam: A method of sending data such as business cards, programs, or phone numbers between two PDAs via infrared transmission.

Cradle: A stand that your PDA fits into that allows you to exchange information.

Graffiti: Is the method of writing characters (letters or numbers) to input data into a PDA. Be careful, letters and numbers need to be written a certain way to be recognized.

Graffiti Writing Area: This is the writing area at the bottom of a PDA. It is divided into two sections. The left side is for writing letters with the stylus. The right side is for writing numbers with the stylus.

Hotsync: Is a method of exchanging data or backing up data between your PDA and desktop computer through a serial port or USB connection.

Kilobyte: Approximately 1000 printed or non-printed characters.

Megabyte: 1000 Kilobytes.

Operating System (OS): The operating system facilitates communication between the hardware (the PDA) and the software.

Palm OS: This is the most popular operating system. The majority of programs are written for this OS. There are four PDAs that are made to use this operating system Palm Pilot, Handspring Visor, TRG, and Sony. This operating system now comes in gray scale and color.

PDA: This stands for personal digital assistant. It is a hand held computer that is about the size of half a sandwich. Other names that may signify the same thing are palmtop, palm, or palm pilot.

Pocket PC: This PDA operates on the Windows for Pocket PC operating system. These are generally larger than most PDAs and have a color screen.

Serial Port: Sends information from a desktop computer to a PDA, printer, camera, etc one character at a time.

Stylus: A pen-like writing instrument used to write on a PDA or hand held computer to input information.

USB Connection: Sends information from a desktop computer to a PDA, printer, etc., but it compresses the information so it sends the information faster than a serial port.

Windows CE OS (Win CE): This operating system was designed by Microsoft to work like other Windows programs on a PDA. This results in a more complicated system requiring more memory and consequently wears down batteries more quickly. These PDAs built by Compaq, HP, Dell, etc have color screens. There are also significantly fewer programs that run this operating system.

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Updated March 26, 2001