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Sharp to launch Zaurus in UK

Flashy PDA to make UK debut before year's end

Sharp's latest Zaurus PDA (personal digital assistant) was unveiled in Japan yesterday afternoon. Sharp said UK release would happen before the end of the year, but our version would not be identical to the Japanese unit.

A spokeswoman for Sharp UK said the firm will be introducing "a version of something like it later this year".

Like the Japanese version it will have a keyboard with a sliding cover, a colour reflective screen, a Risc processor and will run the Linux operating system.

The MI-E21 model is a step up from the previous Zaurus, which was the first to offer video recording. It comes with a built-in video recorder, camcorder and mobile phone capability.

Instead of using a separate video recorder, which recorded MPEG4 video from a television onto a memory card that was then inserted in the Zaurus, the new model records directly from the television's video input via a cable and a video recording card that slots into the device.

Direct recording is done by real-time software compression technology for moving images called Nancy Codec (which is an abbreviation of coder/decoder).

Because the images are compressed by the software, less processing power is needed, giving better picture and sound quality. People can also use the card to record music as MP3 files. Another new feature, a digital camera card, turns the Zaurus into a camcorder.

The MI-E21 Zaurus has a 32bit RISC processor, 32MB of memory and CompactFlash and Secure Digital card slots. It has a keyboard with a sliding cover and a 3.5in reflective colour LCD (liquid crystal display) panel with front light. The battery lasts up to 11 hours with the light switched off, claims Sharp.

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