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Technology puts more options in users’ hands

THE new generation of hand-held personal digital assistants (PDAs) is delivering some real solutions to everyday dilemmas.

The latest generation of PDAs offers high resolution colour screen, wireless Internet connection and a slot for a digital multi media card, allowing users to insert a range of data cards containing information on things from restaurant guides to street maps.

There are still limitations with Internet connection via mobile phones, however, which remains slow and costly and is only possible when the PDA and phone are precisely lined up.

“You can do quick downloads with your mobile phone but you wouldn’t want to surf the Internet,” a Harvey Norman salesperson said.

The growing popularity of PDAs is being driven by the hand-held devices’ data storage capacity and the ease with which users can connect to a desktop machine so as to store and manipulate data.

Although sales have picked up significantly in the past year, the top of the range PDAs are retailing for more than $1,000.

The more basic models are available from around $150.

Sales in WA are increasing as business people recognise the benefits of a highly portable device that can store data, including simple accounting packages.

And there’s speculation PDAs will supersede laptops when the problems with Internet connect-

ion are eventually ironed out.

“They are starting to have little Pentium chips and the New Handspring has lots of little add ons,” the Harvey Norman salesperson said.

“Business people are buying it and lots of sales representatives … these have replaced a suitcase full of stuff.”

Although users are now accessing e-mail via their PDAs, in the future the units will be combined with mobile phones to provide a full range of data and communication needs.

Palm and Handspring retain the strongest brand in the market, but emerging brands such as Jornada offer features such as still photography as a point of differen-tiation from its competitors.

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