Hitachi to target corporate users with new PDA

Hitachi Ltd. is targeting corporate users with its first PDA (personal digital assistant), combining Microsoft Corp.'s Windows CE .Net operating system, Intel Corp.'s XScale microprocessor and a built-in wireless LAN modem. The device will ship in April this year, the company announced Tuesday.

Hitachi hopes to sell a range of services alongside the PDA, for example offering access to intranet applications, said company spokeswoman Emi Takase.

Plans for a launch outside Japan are currently under consideration. The company said naming a price was difficult because the PDA will be sold bundled with services -- although it expects the PDA portion of the overall bill will be around ¥50,000 (AUD$660).

Hitachi's NPD-10JWL "mobile multimedia communicator" is based on an Intel PXA250 XScale microprocessor, 32M bytes of RAM and a 3.5-inch (87 millimeter), 240 by 320-pixel reflective LCD (liquid crystal display) capable of displaying 65,536 colors. It has slots for MMC (Multimedia Card) and SD (Secure Digital) expansion cards, a mini USB (Universal Serial Bus) connector and a headphone socket. It weighs 160 grams and measures 77 millimeters by 108 millimeters by 17.8 millimeters.

The Hitachi PDA will face strong competition. Local offerings from Sharp Corp., Casio Computer Co. Ltd., Sony Corp., Toshiba Corp. and Fujitsu Ltd. are battling against competition from Palm Inc. and Handspring Inc., although none of these are yet focusing on the business market. Their competition for the consumer space has led to very low prices, however, with Palm offering its entry-level M100 PDA for ¥4,900 (AUD$60).

Hitachi first unveiled a prototype of the PDA at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in January this year and has formed a new subsidiary, the Net-PDA Venture Company, to handle development of the PDA and complementary services.

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