Disadvantages and Advantages of Handheld Computers

By Scott Cornell

Handheld computers, or PDAs (personal digital assistants), are becoming more popular as the world transitions into a place where people receive their news as it happens, rather than the day after it happens. Handheld computers allow the owner to take their work with them wherever they go while staying connected to the Internet. While there are several benefits to these computers, there are also some drawbacks to handhelds.

Advantage: Portability

One advantage of handheld computers is their portability. They are smaller than the typical laptop, allowing them to easily be tucked away into a backpack, briefcase or even one's pocket. Within the classroom, they can replace notebooks and allow students to access course material faster. They also provide a new and innovative way to educate. For businesspeople, they can be easily brought onto airplanes and into meetings.

Disadvantage: Smaller Keyboards

In the case of handheld computers, the keyboards are smaller than those of laptop or desktop computers. This can limit use to actions that require minimal typing, because the small keyboard isn't conducive to productive word processing. For instance, instead of typing full documents, as one would on a desktop or laptop computer, the user might only be able to productively check email and surf the Internet on a handheld device.

Advantage: Price

Typical desktop and laptop computers can run more than $1,000. The handheld computer is significantly cheaper. According to Consumer Search, the Palm TX PDA costs about $260. The Palm Tungsten E2 costs about $190. So while these are miniaturized computers, they are hundreds of dollars cheaper than the larger versions. Handheld computers can be a cost-effective computing solution for a cash-strapped company, household or school district.

Disadvantage: Size

While the size of handheld computers is an advantage in portability, it can be a disadvantage, too. For instance, the smaller in size something is, the more likely it is to forgotten or stolen. Typically, burglars are looking for the most valuable thing they can find as quickly as they can get it. Since handheld computers can be stowed in bags, purses and backpacks, the probability of them being stolen increases. Furthermore, the smaller something is, the more likely it is to be lost or misplaced by the owner.

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