Handheld PC


A handheld PC, also known as a palmtop computer or pocket PC, is a small, portable computing device with features similar to a desktop computer. It typically runs on a mobile operating system and includes a touchscreen, mini keyboard, or stylus for input. Handheld PCs are designed for on-the-go usage, offering applications such as email, web browsing, multimedia playback, and document editing.


The phonetic spelling for the keyword ‘Handheld PC’ is:- Handheld: /ˈhændˌhɛld/- PC: /ˌpiːˈsiː/

Key Takeaways

  1. Handheld PCs are portable, compact devices that provide various computing functions, making them ideal for on-the-go productivity and personal organization.
  2. These devices often come equipped with integrated wireless connectivity, allowing users to easily browse the internet, send emails, and access information from cloud-based services.
  3. Handheld PCs support a wide range of applications and software tailored to mobile users, empowering them to accomplish tasks and activities that once required the use of desktop or laptop computers.


The term “Handheld PC” is important because it signifies a major advancement in the field of technology, which has made computing more portable, accessible, and user-friendly than ever before.

These compact, mobile devices have revolutionized the way people work, communicate, and access information, opening up new possibilities for increased productivity and efficiency in both professional and personal contexts.

Handheld PCs have successfully merged the functionality of traditional desktop computers with the convenience and portability of smartphones or tablets, enabling users to perform tasks, access applications, and stay connected from virtually anywhere.

Ultimately, the prevalence of handheld PCs represents a critical milestone in the ongoing digital transformation, fostering increased connectivity and adaptability in today’s fast-paced, technology-driven world.


Handheld PCs, also known as Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs), are compact, portable computers designed primarily for managing and organizing personal and professional information. The purpose of these devices is to provide users with the convenience of having vital information at their fingertips, enabling seamless multitasking and instant access while on the go.

Handheld PCs offer various functionalities including managing schedules, appointments, emails, texts, and serving as a contact database. Additionally, some of these devices come equipped with multimedia and internet browsing capabilities.

One of the greatest advantages of handheld PCs is their streamline user experience, which allows busy professionals and individuals to efficiently juggle numerous tasks and stay connected in a fast-paced world. These devices often come equipped with software tailored to each user’s needs, such as calendar management, notetaking, word processing, and spreadsheet applications.

Moreover, thanks to advancements in wireless technology, users can synchronize their handheld PCs with their desktop computers for seamless data transfer and management. As handheld PCs continue to evolve, they are becoming increasingly versatile and empowered with new applications and functionalities that cater to a broader range of users.

Examples of Handheld PC

Apple Newton MessagePad: The Apple Newton MessagePad, released in 1993, was one of the first handheld PCs to hit the market. It featured a touchscreen interface with a stylus and was capable of managing contacts, calendar events, and to-do lists. It also supported an early form of handwriting recognition, which, despite some flaws, revolutionized mobile computing.

Palm Pilot: The Palm Pilot, launched in 1996 by Palm Inc., quickly became a popular handheld PC option. It featured a compact design, a monochrome touchscreen, and a wide range of features, including an address book, calendar, and memo application. It also had a hardware expansion slot and supported a vast ecosystem of third-party applications, which contributed to its widespread adoption by professionals.

HP iPAQ: Released in 2000, the HP iPAQ series of handheld PCs ran on Microsoft’s Windows Mobile operating system and offered a wide range of features aimed at both consumers and businesses. These devices typically included a color touchscreen, built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth connectivity, and support for an extensive range of applications such as email, web browsing, and multimedia playback. Some models even included GPS capabilities, making them popular choices for navigation and fieldwork applications.

Frequently Asked Questions about Handheld PCs

What is a Handheld PC?

A Handheld PC is a small, portable computing device that combines the functionality of a traditional personal computer with the convenience and mobility of a hand-held gadget. These devices typically have a touchscreen interface and may run on various operating systems.

What are the common features of a Handheld PC?

Handheld PCs come with a range of features including a touchscreen display, a stylus or digital pen for precise input, wireless connectivity, a variety of sensors including GPS, accelerometers, and gyroscopes, and software applications for productivity, entertainment, and communication.

What operating systems do Handheld PCs use?

There are several operating systems available for Handheld PCs, including Windows, iOS, and Android. The choice of operating system depends on the specific device and its intended use.

How do Handheld PCs differ from smartphones and tablets?

Handheld PCs are designed for more advanced computing tasks and productivity compared to smartphones and tablets. They generally come with more powerful processors, enhanced input methods like a stylus or detachable keyboard, and a greater range of professional software applications.

What are some popular Handheld PC brands and models?

Popular Handheld PC brands and models include the Microsoft Surface, Apple iPad Pro, Samsung Galaxy Tab, and Lenovo Yoga. These devices come in various sizes and configurations to suit different use cases.

What are the main advantages of using a Handheld PC?

Handheld PCs offer several benefits, such as increased mobility, ergonomic design, and access to a wide range of computing applications. They have faster processors and more advanced features compared to regular tablets, and they can be used as a portable computing solution for professional users, students, and creatives.

How much does a Handheld PC cost?

The cost of a Handheld PC varies based on the brand, model, and specifications. Generally, Handheld PCs can range from a few hundred dollars to well over a thousand dollars for high-end models with advanced features and capabilities.

Related Technology Terms

  • Mobile Operating System
  • Personal Digital Assistant (PDA)
  • Touchscreen Interface
  • Wireless Connectivity
  • Compact Hardware Design

Sources for More Information


About The Authors

The DevX Technology Glossary is reviewed by technology experts and writers from our community. Terms and definitions continue to go under updates to stay relevant and up-to-date. These experts help us maintain the almost 10,000+ technology terms on DevX. Our reviewers have a strong technical background in software development, engineering, and startup businesses. They are experts with real-world experience working in the tech industry and academia.

See our full expert review panel.

These experts include:


About Our Editorial Process

At DevX, we’re dedicated to tech entrepreneurship. Our team closely follows industry shifts, new products, AI breakthroughs, technology trends, and funding announcements. Articles undergo thorough editing to ensure accuracy and clarity, reflecting DevX’s style and supporting entrepreneurs in the tech sphere.

See our full editorial policy.

More Technology Terms

Technology Glossary

Table of Contents