palmtop or hand-held personal computer, lightweight, small, battery-powered, general-purpose programmable computer. It typically had a miniaturized full-function, typewriterlike keyboard for input and a small, full color, liquid-crystal display for output. In addition to an operating system compatible with that of a desktop computer, a palmtop typically contained a word processor, a spreadsheet program, and a calendar and phone book. A variety of other programs could be loaded and executed, and data could usually be transferred to and from a desktop computer. Although some palmtops were like personal digital assistants in that they accepted handwritten or touch screen input, they generally differed in that the palmtop had more memory, a keyboard, and a greater variety of available programs. The development of netbooks and smartphones made palmtops obsolete.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.