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Traveling with a PDA
Next time maybe you can leave the laptop!

Michael Espinoza is owner of Technology Coaching, a training and consulting firm that specializes in the PDA and Microsoft Applications market. You can e-mail him at .

OK, so you have to take a trip. It could be for business or pleasure but you know you will have to do some computer work while you are gone. You have decided that you do not want to take your laptop because your shoulder still hurts from the last trip you took. You decide this time you will be on the cutting edge of technology and will be taking your new PDA with you.

You will have to work on a lot of reports as well as print them. Since you get a lot of e-mail, you're going to have to check your e-mail regularly. You would also like to use the PDA for a little entertainment and catching up on some reading you have wanted to do for months.

Is your PDA up to the task? Can it handle all of the things you would like to do? Well let's go over what you will need to get all of this done. Because there are so many different PDA's on the market today I will be talking in general terms about what you will need for your PDA.

The first thing to consider is the way you are going to input all your data on the PDA. The built in methods do not lend themselves to large amounts of data entry. There are many portable keyboard devices on the market but one of the best are the Stowaway keyboards.

These keyboards are great for entering data on your PDA. The new XT models are even better. They are lighter and smaller then the original. Check them out. Most major electronics retailers carry them.

Printing on the road When it comes to printing out your work on the road you will need a portable printer. There are a handful of portable printers on the market but many of them are thermal printers which may not do the job for many people. One of the best is the HP 450cbi mobile color printer. Here are the specs on it:

  • black speed - up to 9 ppm black

  • color speed - up to 8 ppm color

  • black resolution - up to 1200 x 1200

  • color resolution - up to 4800 x 1200 optimized color dpi (on premium photo paper and 1200 x 1200 input dpi)

  • connectivity - parallel, USB, fast infrared, Compact Flash, and Bluetooth product highlights mobile printer, optional 6-ink printing & HP Lithium-ion battery included
  • This printer is worth a look, but if you would like to see more printers you should go to M Planet. They carry the HP 450 as well as a nice selection of others.

    Most PDA's don't come with software to allow you to print to a printer. To print you will need software for your PDA, PrintBoy is one of the best for printing. They make both Palm and Pocket PC printing software. The Web page that lists their products is Bachmann Software.

    IPAQ Users note that HP has a mobile printing solution that is free for download on their web site. It only works with HP IPAQ PDAs, go to the handheld devices page HP's website and search for the mobile printing solutions.

    Now what about e-mail? You will want to check your e-mail when you are on the road. You have a few choices.

    If you are going to be near a HotSpot you can use an 802.11b card or add-on to log onto one of the many HotSpots available across the country. These include many airports, Borders and StarBucks. For more information on HotSpots go to the T-Mobile's Web page.

    If you are staying in a hotel that offers High Speed Internet (many do today) you can use a network card or network add-on for your PDA. This will allow you to plug right into the RJ45 connection in the room and take advantage of a fast internet connection. Make sure and call ahead or check the web site of the hotel you will be staying at to check if they have High Speed Internet and the price that they charge.

    If you do not have high speed Internet in the hotel then you can always use a Standard 56K modem that is designed for the PDA.

    Using any of these methods you will be able to get your e-mail. If you have an older Palm you may need to purchase some software that will allow you to get your e-mail. That's the case you can check for this e-mail software on Handango.

    Last you will want to enjoy the entertainment capabilities of your PDA. Most PDAs support at least one of the following:

    All the Pocket PC based PDA's and the new Palm based PDA's support the playing of MP3 music from the device. A pair of headphones and a memory card with your favorite music will allow anyone to enjoy their favorite tunes.

    All the Pocket PC based PDA's and the many of the new Palm based PDA's support the playing of videos. You can create your own video or purchase videos off the Internet.

    E-Books can be read on virtually all PDA's. Many PDA's come with E-Book readers already installed or on the CD that they ship with. One good site to go to for E-Books as well as the software readers is Palm Digital Media.

    Audio books
    If you are into listening to books instead of reading them you may be interested in a company called Audible. This site allows you to purchase audio books from the site and download the audio book to your PDA. Not all PDA's support this type of audio format so go to the site and see if you are able to take advantage of this method of listening to books.

    Many of the older PDA's do not support the entertainment capabilities of the newer PDA's. You may want to check your documentation or your manufacturer's Website to find out which \of theses capabilities that your device supports.

    The next time you go on a trip you can take your PDA with you and take advantage of that incredible little device.

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