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Handhelds Hardware

Sharp's Upcoming Linux PDA 107

Bill Kendrick writes: "ZDNet reports that Sharp is getting ready to make its Linux-based PDA available to developers in the next few weeks. They'll include a 206MHz StrongARM, 32MB (in the cheaper, developer edition), a JVM, the Opera web browser, and a slide-out keyboard. A profile of the device is available at LinuxDevices.com." We've mentioned this before, but it looks like it'll be here soon.
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Sharp's Upcoming Linux PDA

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  • Sharp Zaurus PDA (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Spootnik ( 518145 ) on Sunday October 07, 2001 @05:26PM (#2399326)
    I just returned from Java One and Sharp had a booth there. They showed off this PDA that looked very cool. I think it takes Palm attachments. The bottom slides down to reveal a tiny keyboard. But the cool thing is that the PDA is a Java app thing that runs under Linux. It was running a 2.4 kernel and it just looked friggin' cool. I don't know what kind of development environment they've got (does gcc have a StrongARM backend?), but I got the feeling that they were looking for people to develop apps for it. I suppose that's because no one will buy it without apps. I signed up to get an early development release, but I don't really know what that means. Does anyone have any more information on this? All the web pages I find are in Japanese.
  • Re:pull-out keyboard (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Jebus_the_spork ( 449174 ) on Sunday October 07, 2001 @05:30PM (#2399350) Homepage
    ive used a similar one before, and you have to squeeze your fingers and hands together, the typos run rampant. defenitly not comfortable.
  • Looks good. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by proxima ( 165692 ) on Sunday October 07, 2001 @05:30PM (#2399353)
    Sharp looks like it is actually trying to be a bit innovative with a PDA, unlike many manufacturers. First of all, the reflective TFT color display is good choice - consumers and business users seem to have this desire for color (I personally own a Visor Platinum with a grayscale screen, I love the battery life).

    I don't really see what Java and Linux bring to a handheld device. Development isn't that difficult for the Palm OS, even Pocket PC, which have each picked a niche in the handheld market (the Palm OS for basic PIM functions with lots of little add-on software, Pocket PC for built-in support of Office documents and multimedia). I have spent some time thinking about it, and the advantages of Linux (multitasking, different processor support, open source) don't seem as important in the handheld market. At least not yet. If Palm OS and the Pocket PC platforms weren't mature, I would definately think that using Linux would be a much better choice. Unfortunately, it is still quite immature, as one can quickly tell from reading through the Linux development mailing lists of the Agenda [agendacomputing.com]. Not to say it isn't useful, but on the same hardware it seems to be slower than the Palm equivalents, from the reports I have read.

    Moving on, the choice of compact flash and lithium ion battery was very wise. Better than a proprietary expansion slot, in my opinion, but somewhat more limited. Handspring's sprinboards are capable of doing so much more than memory expansion and modem/ethernet devices - like a remote module, GPS, cell phone, wireless internet, etc. I am not sure how many of these things the compact flash design on this palmtop could support - with something sticking out the top. Seeing as this has a 206 Mhz processor and a color screen, the good rechargable battery will be quite needed. It would be nice if these are easily removable, so that those who don't get a chance to charge for quite some time will be able to pop in a second battery.

    The sliding keyboard seems nice, but obviously useful mostly for "thumb-typing". Handspring just announced a clip-on sort of keyboard for their devices that does a similar thing - SnapNType [palmgear.com]. One thing that I wonder about this Sharp device - will it support handwriting recognition? The site claims the color screen has "touch panel support". Handwriting recognition is fairly difficult to code, as the Agenda creators have found. Grafiti is nice, especially for those that have learned it, but there is some sort of licensing with it.

    All in all, this looks like a promising Linux handheld. They learned from the Agenda's mistakes, by including USB connectivity, a rechargable battery, and compact flash slot. With all these features it will definately be in the price range of the already-mature color Compaq's, which means a limited consumer base. I look forward to hearing how well the developer models work.

  • StrongARM comments (Score:5, Interesting)

    by horza ( 87255 ) on Sunday October 07, 2001 @06:27PM (#2399628) Homepage
    1) No, because it runs at 206MHz does not mean it comsumes a lot of power. It draws 0.7W [intel.com].
    2) It is RISC rather than CISC, and having used a 200MHz StrongARM desktop I can tell you it FLIES. Much faster than a P2-266
    3) You use gcc to compile on StrongARM because Linux runs on StrongARM (well obviously). ARMLinux has been around for years running on Acorn machines. You can also cross-compile to StrongARM using a x86 box - just ./configure --target=arm-linux when compiling GCC.
    4) You can even use them for Beowolf [dnaco.net] ;-)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 07, 2001 @06:46PM (#2399704)
    The main opertating system on the Zaurus PDA is based on technologies developed by the Tao Group [tao-group.com]. The Japanese version of the Zaurus PDA doesn`t have a Linux kernel at all. The common application layer is provided by the Tao Group. The OS is very good but this is not a fully open source solution by any means. It is all simple hype to create support for such products. For many other products which are so called "Linux Powered" counts that they are unfoundedly hyped as Linux devices. Think of it is Linux with X a viable solution in lowly powered low memory environments? NO WAY

    Using Linux pieces does make sense though as you can use them freely and even gives you more news coverage. These devices are extremely cool, but NO way are they true Linux devices.
  • by Twig ( 93915 ) on Sunday October 07, 2001 @06:58PM (#2399749) Homepage
    The Sharp Zaurus PDA is also the first mainstream device to see the return of old friend Amiga [amiga.com] to modern computing.

    Amiga have been signed [amiga.com] by Sharp as a content provider for its new Zuarus platform. The Zaurus ships with Amiga's "AmigaDE", a platform agnostic digital environment which is hosted by the Linux OS.

    Sharp demonstrated the Zaurus running AmigaDE applications a while back. Here's [amiga.com] the link.

    Amiga have also been signed by Psion [psion.com] to provide its AmigaDE system for their NetBook products.


  • by spiro_killglance ( 121572 ) on Sunday October 07, 2001 @08:01PM (#2400038) Homepage
    "Do you have any hard numbers to confirm this?? RISC processors at the same speed as a CISC processor are typically SLOWER because they do LESS work per instruction than a CISC processor. "

    This would be true if RISC and CISC today ment
    what they used to me. In fact many of todays so
    called RISC machines have more powerful instruction sets, with for example three operand
    instructions with multiple addressing modes. Mean while the
    major architectual inivations from risc processors
    like pipe-lining and superscalar are on all modern
    microprocessors. For more info see this ars-technica article [arstechnica.com].

    All this, plus the AMD vs INTEL megahertz wars, leads to a curious roll reversal where so called
    RISC chips do more work per MHz, while so called
    CISC chips (actually only the x86 is called CISC
    these days), have the highest clock rates.

"Mach was the greatest intellectual fraud in the last ten years." "What about X?" "I said `intellectual'." ;login, 9/1990