NEC to launch its first PDA on Monday

NEC Corp. will jump into the U.S. personal digital assistant (PDA) market on Monday with the introduction of its first Pocket PC device, the MobilePro P300, based on Microsoft Corp.'s Windows CE operating system.

The announcement is expected to take place at the Comdex exhibition, which is being held in Las Vegas from Sunday, November 11, through Friday, November 16.

The MobilePro P300 is targeted at the corporate market although its hardware profile matches that of most other Pocket PC devices. It is based on Intel Corp.'s 206MHz StrongARM processor, has 32M bytes of main memory, 32M bytes of flash ROM and a 3.8-inch, 65,000-color reflective TFT (Thin Film Transistor) LCD (Liquid Crystal Display). Other features include slots for both Compact Flash and Secure Digital (SD) memory cards.

While the hardware might be similar, NEC has tried to differentiate its PDA with software.

The company is preinstalling several third-party software applications on the device, including Insignia Solutions Inc.'s Jeode Java plug-in, while a 32M-byte SD card that ships with the PDA comes loaded with Westtek LLC's ClearVue software for displaying Excel and PowerPoint files, Adobe Systems Inc.'s PhotoBase for viewing digital images, and Ruskin Software Technology Inc.'s Voice Messenger Force instant messaging software.

NEC announced the PDA in Japan around a month ago and will begin selling it there on Nov. 30 for around US$500. In the U.S., the device will be available shortly at a price of US$599 and in Canada it will carry a recommended retail price of C$939 (US$586).

NEC's launch of its PDA is expected to be one of many mobile computer-related announcements at the Comdex exhibition. In the PDA field, several companies are expected to be revealing new or upgraded models. Among them, South Korea's Gmate Inc. will unveil a folding-type PDA that runs the Linux operating system.

Some of the biggest mobile computing news however will be the detailed release of Microsoft's Tablet PC plans, complete with the unveiling of prototype devices. The computers are expected to ship sometime in 2002.

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