Sharp Ships PDA with Wi-Fi in US

By James Alan Miller

March 31, 2004

Powerful CPU and battery, a VGA display, loads of memory and Wi-Fi make the new Zaurus an attractive alternative to Palm and Pocket PC handhelds.

Sharp's Zaurus SL-6000L PDA is now available with English language support online. This device, as well as two additional SL-6000 models, have been available in Japan.

Unlike other recent Zaurus models, the Zaurus SL-6000 series comes in a traditional tablet style rather than a clamshell. Like the earlier clamshell models, the SL-6000 series also has a QWERTY keyboard, except with this series the keyboard appears when the bottom of the device is pulled down. The new Zaurus runs the Trolltech's Qtopia platform interface on top of Linux and includes personal information management software.

All the models in the series run on a 400MHz Intel XScale processor, 1500 mAh Lithium polymer battery, 64 MB of RAM and 64MB of Flash memory. The series also features a large 4-inch CG Silicon display that has a VGA resolution of 480 x 640 pixels. The only PDA with a VGA display currently available is Toshibas excellent e800 Pocket PC. Though ASUS has another one coming in the next couple of months. The new Zaurus models also have Secure Digital and CompactFlash slots for memory expansion with an optional sleeve available to add an additional CompactFlash slot and battery.

According to the company, the embedded Linux PDAs have been designed for and will be targeted to corporate users, and can run Java as well as Linux applications. The model now available in English, the SL-6000L, includes Wi-Fi. Of the other models available in Japan, the SL-6000W features Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, while the Sl-6000N has neither Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Theres no information as to whether these will also be made available in the English.

Sharp said it is working with IBM to develop mobile field force solutions for the new Zaurus. For example, the Wi-Fi enabled SL-6000 series running WebSphere Everyplace Connection Manager software allows mobile employees to securely roam with high speed access to information across multiple networks without interrupting Web connections or losing an existing session. So remote workers will be able to access Web applications like PIM and e-mail and also be able to retrieve information from IBM's DB2 database software. The Sharp Zaurus also supports IBM's WebSphere Everyplace Multimodal Environment for Embedix, which allows end users to run multimodal applications.

The Zaurus SL-6000L is selling for $700 at and other online retailers. This price is in line with high-end Pocket PC and Palm OS handheld models. Of course, there are far more third party applications available with these established mobile platforms. There is enough software available, however, for the Zaurus to make it attractive for those looking for a PDA that is alternative to those with these other operating systems.

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