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Is there a right choice?

Talking PDAs is a lot like talking Politics. Everyone has their own opinions and sometimes it's easier to respect those opinions than to argue them. But what makes a person so passionate about their PDA? A lot of it has to with how you use it and how much you rely on it. Power Users sometimes have their lives so interwoven with their PDAs that to lose it or have it break can be downright gut-wrenching. Now don't smirk, I bet the last time your computer crashed, you remembered a few choice words from your college days. If you've ever lost your Day Runner you know what I mean--you thought it was just a binder till everything was gone. The great thing about a PDA is that it's a Day Runner that has the ability to be backed up, saving all of your valuable information.

What truly brings out passionate conversation is the question: What's better: Palm or Pocket PC. Heck, that question alone has resulted in some scenes reminiscent of those infamous Thanksgiving get-togethers (of course you've never had one of those have you?).

The first thing we need to do is clarify some facts versus perceptions.

Some facts are:

* Pocket PC multitasks (you can run several programs at once), Palm is intended to run one program at a time (although Palm OS 5.0 introduced some multitasking ability)
* In 2001, there were over 13,000 commercially available software programs for Palm versus 1,600 for Pocket PC (although the gap is shrinking)
* In 2001 Palm had a market share of 72% while Pocket PC had about 15%
* Palms start at around $99 while Pocket PCs start around $200.

Some (sometimes faulty) user opinions/perceptions are:

* Palm is easier to learn and use
* Palm is more stable, Pocket PC crashes more
* Pocket PC is more powerful
* Pocket PC integrates better with Windows Office
* Palm has more freeware and the software is cheaper
* Palm is an Organizer, Pocket PC is a computer

As you see, the users' opinions are as varied as the users themselves. Palm has been a more popular platform in the past mainly because of the perceived easier learning curve and the price. In fact, until late last year, a Palm would cost you around $200 while a Pocket PC would run about $500. Many people weren't willing to spend $500 to see if they would even use a PDA. In fact, many Pocket PC users will tell you their first PDA was a Palm because of low cost, but they upgraded to Pocket PC because they wanted the Windows feel. Currently both platforms offer PDA's around the $200 range, making it affordable to try either Pocket PC or Palm.

Is the Palm easier to use use than Pocket PC? If you're somewhat computer illiterate, the Palm may be a little easier to use. If you're familiar with computers, than both platforms will probably have the same learning curve. One of the biggest misconceptions of Pocket PC is that it runs regular windows programs. It does not. Programs for Pocket PC are developed for Pocket PC and will not run on Windows computers and vice versa, although many Pocket PC programs were developed from the same source code as their Windows counterpart. The thing that many developers for both Palm and Pocket PC are doing is creating a desktop and PDA version of their product. That way information can be entered on either the PDA or the computer and then synced to the other.

A big part of the debate over which PDA to use is a lot like the Mac vs. PC debate. Many people feel that Mac is easier to use and many even enjoy bucking the "Everyone should use a PC" trend. If you hate Windows and think Bill Gates is the epitome of evil, you'll probably want to stick with Palm. If you love Windows and want the Windows feel, you'll probably want to try Pocket PC. The best way to know is go to your local electronics store and play around with different PDAs. Also do some research online. There are a lot of sites dedicated to handhelds with news and reviews of different PDAs. PDA forums are great if you want to solicit some opinions on the best bet for you (be ready to open Pandora's box!). In reality, both Operating Systems are more similar than some people want to give them credit for. With a few exceptions, they have equal power to help you run your business or your everday life.

One thing to remember is the validity of a PDA user's opinion. While the opinions of others can be beneficial to making a buying decision, be sure to ask questions. Some PDA users will tell you the Operating System they use is the best while the other one sucks. The thing to know is that many of those die-hards have never tried the other Operating System. If you want a true comparison, talk to someone who has used both platforms so that you can understand how the PDA they use might compare to your needs.

Hopefully you weren't looking for the answer to which PDA is better. Only you can answer that question, but hopefully we've given you some things to think about so that you can make an informed buying decision.

source: about.com/

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