Sanyo unveils new Symbian-based PDA prototype

Sanyo Electric has taken the wraps off an updated prototype of its planned personal digital assistant (PDA) based on the Symbian operating system at the CEATEC Japan 2001 exhibition, which opened on Tuesday just outside of Tokyo.

The new version shares most of the looks and features of the company's first public prototype, which was unveiled at last year's CEATEC show, although it is based on the version 6.1 software from Symbian Ltd. Last year's model was based on version 6.0.

Like the previous model, it features a color LCD (liquid crystal display) of around 4 inches (10 centimeters) in size, capable of QVGA (320 by 240 pixel) resolution and is based on an ARM microprocessor running at 66MHz, said Teruhiro Yamada, chief planner from Sanyo's research and development headquarters in Tokyo. It also sports a slot for Multimedia Card (MMC) memory cards.

However, also like last year, the company still has no concrete plans to sell the PDA, which it has been developing under the Lyra codename. A commercial product is getting closer -- some prototypes on display had dispensed with the Lyra name and carried the product name 'ESG-EP100' -- and Yamada said he hopes it will go on sale "maybe next year."

Should Sanyo enter the PDA market, it will become the latest in a line of major Japanese computer and consumer electronics makers to enter the market. After being dominated by Sharp Corp.'s Zaurus for several years, competition increased last year when Sony Corp. launched its Clie PDA. This year, Toshiba Corp. has started selling its own product and NEC Corp. has also announced plans to enter the market later this year. Other companies, such as Casio Computer Co. Ltd., are also selling PDAs in the local market.

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Martyn Williams

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