CEATEC : Sharp shows new Linux Zaurus PDA

Sharp Corp. is giving visitors to the Ceatec 2002 exhibition a first look at what is likely to be a new high-end member of its Zaurus PDA (personal digital assistant) family.

The company is showing a prototype of the device, which it has labeled a “personal mobile tool,” at its Ceatec booth and says the company hopes to put it on sale in Japan by the end of the year.

Unlike the current Zaurus model, which is designed to be held in one hand and features a screen that is longer in the vertical than horizontal direction, the new Zaurus unfolds like a notebook computer with the display in the upper half and a keyboard in the lower half. Like a conventional PC monitor screen, the new Zaurus uses a display that is longer in the horizontal direction.

Few technical details of the PDA were available. However it will be based on the Linux operating system and contains a VGA (640 by 480 pixel) resolution CG Silicon display, according to a company representative. CG Silicon is a Sharp-developed display technology that enables the company to pack double the number of pixels on an LCD (liquid crystal display) screen than a conventional TFT (thin film transistor) LCD, the company said.

Sharp has had success with its Zaurus line of PDAs, particularly among engineers and computer programmers who like its Linux operating system base. The company confined PDA sales to Japan for several years although recently begun sales overseas.

Pricing details of the new PDA were not available.