Sharp takes wraps off PDA prototype

The PDA (personal digital assistant) will run Java on the Embedix operating system from Lineo, an embedded Linux vendor. It also will feature an Intel StrongARM 206MHz processor, which is the same chip behind Compaq's iPaq and Hewlett-Packard's Jornada, which use Microsoft's Pocket PC operating system.

Sharp decided to use Lineo's version of Linux because of its low hardware requirements and broad feature support, Sharp said in a statement. Lineo also has the ability to bring the product to market quickly, Sharp said.

The device will be marketed globally later this year, with the goal of selling 1 million units by March of next year, Sharp said in a statement.

Sharp also announced that it is in talks with three other vendors regarding software or technology for the PDA. Discussions are under way with Office Noa to supply software for video and multimedia access in wireless environments, Amiga for gaming, animation, video and music software and Pumatech to provide synchronisation between the PDA and other computers.

To spur application development before the device comes to market later in the year, Sharp also launched a developer's program for the PDA. Developers will have access to technical support, a developer's forum, development tool information and documents, Sharp said.

The company also announced that Tokyo-based Access will supply its flagship NetFront Internet browser for the device. The prototype being demonstrated at the show uses the browser, which was designed for embedded applications to run on devices such as televisions, set-top boxes, Web phones and PDAs. The application runs on an operating system or CPU (central processing unit), the companies said in a statement. NetFront supports JavaScript, cookies and SSL (Secure Sockets Layer).

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