Analyze your tech style to find a PDA that's right for you.
A proliferation of
feature-laden personal digital assistants and smartphones crowds
today's market. Each successive model integrates more capabilities as
manufacturers grope for the right combination of price, features, and
In addition to providing basic PDA
functions, many of the latest converged mobile devices have built-in
keyboards that eliminate the need to convert handwriting to text when
inputting data. Some units incorporate global positioning systems and
mapping software. Many offer audio features, such as voice recorders
and MP3 players, and others even function as gaming consoles and remote
controllers for home automation and entertainment systems.
real estate professionals can benefit from the many available choices,
but to make a sound purchase decision, first determine how a converged
device can help facilitate your everyday business processes.
Analyze Your Needs
Before researching products, examine your business communication style and requirements. Consider the following questions:
percentage of your business communication is mobile? Do you require
text messaging or e-mail? If you e-mail on the road, do you read only,
or do you create, forward, and reply to messages? Do you need to open
and forward attachments? Do you need to speak on the phone while
reading and responding to e-mail?
- Do you keep your contact and calendar information on your phone or PDA, or do you log onto your company's intranet?
- Would the ability to send digital images or video clips improve your business effectiveness?
- Do you require GPS and navigational capabilities?
mobile, do you need to access Web-based commercial real estate
applications, such as customer relationship management, property
management, procurement, asset management, and project management
After giving some thought to these queries, you can narrow the field of products that are right for your business.
Choose Operating System, Then Device
BlackBerry, Microsoft Windows Pocket PC and CE, and Palm OS are the prevalent wireless device operating systems.
BlackBerry operating system offers most basic PDA features but may not
support other applications, especially commercial real estate ones.
Before purchasing one of these devices, make sure it can handle your
specific add-on requirements.
BlackBerry device if your primary mobile application is e-mail.
BlackBerry products allow users to receive and send e-mails continually
with their always-on capability. BlackBerry also provides an attachment
service that allows users to view Microsoft Office and other documents,
but it doesn't facilitate editing. The BlackBerry line offers a number
of product choices, including models with integrated cellular phones.
Prices range from $199 to $399.
Windows operating systems allow you to read and edit Word documents,
Excel spreadsheets, Access databases, and PowerPoint presentations.
With Windows Media Player, you can utilize video and audio files.
a Windows-based device if you need to open, edit, and forward Microsoft
Office attachments. It doesn't have an always-on feature, but some
users may feel more comfortable with Pocket PC Inbox, which is similar
to Microsoft's Outlook e-mail program. Windows-based PDAs include
Hewlett-Packard's iPAQ series, Dell's Axim series, and Toshiba's e750
and 800 series. For a Windows-based smartphone, consider Samsung's i600
or Motorola's MPx200. Also keep an eye out for the new Sierra Wireless
Voq smartphone, which should be available by midyear. Looking like a
traditional cell phone, the Voq sports a fold-out keyboard and a
secure, automatically updated e-mail function. Prices on Windows-based
units range from $299 to $699.
is a simple operating system; newer devices with built-in keyboards
relieve users from learning the effective but tedious Graffiti writing
system. Downloadable software enables Palm devices to handle Microsoft
Office documents, and most accessories, including add-on GPS and
presentation products, are available.
and low-cost, Palm products are basic PDAs that handle contacts and
calendar functions. The Zire 71 offers a built-in camera, and the
Tungsten series incorporates a slide-out keyboard. For PDA functions
combined with a smartphone, consider the Palm Treo 600 or the Samsung
i500. PDA prices start around $199 and go up to $599 for smartphones.
iQue 3600 is a Palm-based PDA that also includes built-in GPS and
mapping capabilities. While a stand-out choice, it's a bit pricey at
Don't Forget to Research
Conduct some research before making any purchases. Check out product Web sites (see resource box) and also visit www.zdnet.com for product specifications, editorial reviews, user comments, and competitive pricing information.
matter which unit you choose, test-drive it first. Make sure it has
rechargeable batteries and an easy-to-read screen and can accommodate
add-on software, especially commercial real estate applications, you're
considering. Also, before buying, check with your company's information
technology department to ensure that the device is compatible with your