Sharp unveils latest Linux-based Zaurus PDAs

Sharp Corp. launched two new PDAs (personal digital assistant) based on the Linux operating system, the Zaurus SL-C700 and the Zaurus SL-B500, at a news conference Tuesday.

The Osaka, Japan, company's SL-C700 looks like a compact notebook PC, with a landscape LCD screen and a 10.75 millimeter-pitch QWERTY keyboard.

The SL-C700, measuring 120 millimeters by 83 millimeters by 18.6 millimeters and weighing 225 grams, features a landscape display on the upper half of the body and a keyboard on the lower half, Sharp said in a statement. The display could also be turned through 180 degrees so that it can be folded shut with the screen facing outwards as a portrait display.

The display is a 3.7-inch (9.4-centimeter) VGA (640 pixel by 480 pixel) resolution system LCD (liquid crystal display) Sharp developed with its continuous grain silicon (CGS) technology, the company said.

CGS maintains atomic-level continuity at the crystal grain boundaries, so electrons can travel through the semiconductor three times faster than in low-temperature polysilicon. The technology also allows driver chips to be built directly on the same glass substrate. This means higher resolution, smaller size, lower power-consumption and lower cost for LCDs, according to Hiroshi Uno, general manager at Sharp's Mobile Systems Division, speaking at the news conference.

Sharp is targeting the device mainly at business users, who need to use their notebook PCs on the move for occasions such as presentation, typing up proceedings, browsing the Internet and sending e-mail, the company said.

The SL-C700 contains a 400MHz Intel XScale processor, 64M bytes of flash memory and 32M bytes of SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM). The device is equipped with slots for SD (Secure Digital) and Compact Flash cards. Wireless LAN or PHS (Personal Handyphone System) cards can be used in the Compact Flash slot.

The battery lasts up to around 4 hours 50 minutes, Sharp said.

The SL-C700 is expected to be rolled out on Dec. 14 in Japan, priced under ¥60,000 (US$502). The company is planning to unveil the device outside of Japan at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in January, Uno said.

At the same time, Sharp also unveiled the Linux-based SL-B500 Zaurus PDA. The device has the same processor and built-in software as the SL-C700, but with a sliding keyboard tucked behind a lower-resolution portrait display, in a more traditional PDA format. By using a 3.5-inch LCD with QVGA (240 pixel by 320 pixel) resolution, Sharp has extended the battery life of the SL-B500 to 18 hours, the company said.

The SL-B500 will also be launched on Dec. 14 in Japan at under ¥50,000. The company plans to release the product in Europe and the North America as early as the first quarter next year.

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