A small computer that literally fits in your palm. Compared to full-size computers, palmtops are severely limited, but they are practical for certain functions such as phone books and calendars. Palmtops that use a pen rather than a keyboard for input are often called hand-held computers or PDAs.

Because of their small size, most palmtop computers do not include disk drives. However, many contain PCMCIA slots in which you can insert disk drives, modems, memory, and other devices.

Palmtops are also called PDAs, hand-held computers and pocket computers.

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One of the First Palmtops
This was one of the first fully functional palmtops going back to the days of the 486 CPUs. It weighed less than a pound and a half. The CompactFlash card, which was used for storage, is coming out of the PC Card slot. (Image courtesy of SanDisk Corporation.)

Most palmtops typically have a miniaturized full-function, typewriter-like keyboard for input and a small full color, liquid-crystal display for output. Other features also include handwriting recognition, a stylus, and an infrared port.

Palmtops have an operating system that is compatible with that of your desktop computer. They usually contain a word processor, a spreadsheet program, and a calendar and phone book. Other programs can also be loaded to a palmtop, and data can usually be transferred to and from a desktop computer this transfer of data is also called synchronizing.

What can a palmtop do for you? It can perform many wonders from personal tools, to great communicating functions to cool pocket entertainment.

You can keep track of your schedule, maintain a to-list, and save contact information. You can receive email and access the Internet. Some models let you read books, listen to music, play games, view pictures and films.

Other palmtop features also include color screen, expansion slot, digital voice recorder, email and wireless capability, etc. Some models even have MP3 players in them. A major difference between palmtop computers and laptop computers is palmtops are usually powered by off the shelf batteries such as AA cells.

Palmtop computers typically do not have disk drives; rather their programs are stored in ROM and are loaded into RAM when they are turned on.

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Vishnu vardhan Reddy Boda is Tech Blogger and Software Engineer.

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