Gmate to debut Linux PDA next month

Gmate Co. Ltd. plans to put on sale its long-awaited Linux-based PDA (personal digital assistant) in December, the company announced at Comdex Fall.

The Yopy PDA made its first public appearance at the CeBIT trade show in Germany last year and at the time the company said it was aiming to launch the product in late 2000, although an ongoing development project with Linux programmers around the world led to the delay of the commercial launch.

At the same time as this work was going on, developers at the company's headquarters just outside of Seoul, South Korea, also redesigned the Yopy to come up with a folding-type design, much like a clamshell type cell phone, that has a 3.5 inch reflective LCD (liquid crystal display) panel in the upper half of the device and a 40-key keypad occupying the lower half. The display has 240-by-320 pixel resolution and the device packs 64M bytes of main memory.

Based on Intel Corp.'s StrongARM processor, the machine runs the ARM Linux operating system and X Windows. This gives users access to thousands of applications developed to run on X Windows and a standard platform on which new applications can be developed, said Lee Sang Don, general manager of Gmate.

Preinstalled software applications will include a Web browser, MP3 player, simple image editing software, e-mail application, address book and scheduler. It will be able to synchronize data with Microsoft Outlook and Lotus Notes.

The Yopy will first go on sale in South Korea in December and sales in the rest of the world will follow as soon as distribution deals have been finalized, Lee said. It will cost 490,000 won (US$380) in South Korea and the company is hoping to sell it for about $450 in the U.S. An additional CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) modem that clips onto the back of the device and supports the high-speed CDMA2000 system will also be available for about 200,000 won.

It measures 4.0 by 2.7 by 0.6 inches (10.2 by 6.9 by 1.5 cm) and weighs 5 ounces (140 grams). Battery life is better than 12 hours, according to Lee, and about 8 hours when the CDMA module is in use. To prolong battery life, the modem module has its own supplemental battery pack.

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Martyn Williams

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