Top Buyer Tips: Handhelds

Few essentials to consider when buying your next smartphone or PDA

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Top Buyer Tips: Handhelds Pay attention to the size, resolution and colour capabilities of the handheld’s screen.
By  Vineetha Menon Published  October 6, 2009

Shopping for a handheld device can be not only confusing but frustrating too because of the vast number of products available in the market today. Once you focus on the essentials and strip away everything else, it becomes easier to narrow down the options.

Here are a few to keep an eye out for:

PDA, smartphone or plain ‘ol cellphone?

Like notebooks, handheld devices fall into one of a number of different product categories; you can get standard mobile phones or data centric devices such as PDAs and smartphones. If you're after a device solely to make phone calls and perform text messaging, a standard mobile will do. These sometimes offer extras such as digital camera and MP3 functionality.

Data centric devices such as PDAs and smartphones however offer Wi-Fi capabilities, 3G compatibility for mobile, wireless Internet access and can be used to work on documents and spreadsheets using basic office software. PDAs and Smartphones differ from each other in terms of how you use them however - smartphones rely on a keyboard or keypad, while PDAs offer touch-screens that you can interact with using a stylus.


Today's mobile phones, PDAs and smartphones allow you to install additional software that you can download off the internet. To store all this extra data however your handheld will need to have enough storage space. Most handhelds offer a standard amount of space but if you want more to store additional software or even music or photos, check if the handheld has a memory card expansion slot so you can pack in as much as you'd like.


Screen size

Pay attention to the size, resolution and colour capabilities of your handheld's screen. If you're buying a handheld with the intention of watching videos, make sure the LCD's colour palette supports up to 16million colours as these give the best playback quality. Lower end LCDs are limited to colour palettes of only 64,000 colours and thus don't produce the best video or photo outputs. In terms of screen size, just pick one that you're happy with and in terms of resolution, opt for a screen that offers no less than 320 x 240 pixels.


Most of the handheld devices on the market today offer a digital camera as standard. But if its quality photographs that you want, you'll have to make sure the handheld's camera offers, at the very least, a 3-megapixel image sensor. A built-in flash will also help photo quality particularly when working in low light environments.

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