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Zaurus gets comms action

Sharp to unveil 3G mobile-capable handheld PC

Sharp will roll out a PDA (personal digital assistant)-style 3G (third-generation) mobile phone with Bluetooth capability as one of the key products of its business initiatives for 2002, the company said last week at a Tokyo conference.

The company is developing the 3G handset for NTT DoCoMo's Foma service, which is expected to be ready in the third quarter of this year, said Katsuhiko Machida, Sharp's president.

The phone will look and function like Sharp's Zaurus, a PDA popular in the Japanese market. "Because this is a PDA-style cell phone, I think it will be a true 3G device, which can make the best use of [3G] technologies," Machida said.

The device is expected to include a video camera and separate Bluetooth-embedded headset, based on a prototype that was unveiled at the Ceatec show in Japan last year.

The boundary between mobile phones and other mobile devices is blurring, although opinions still differ among mobile device makers on whether phones will combine with PDAs. But, Machida said, it is inevitable that various kinds of mobile communication devices will become all-in-one products.

Sharp, as a leading LCD (liquid crystal display) maker, also expects demand for LCDs and LCD televisions to keep growing, Machida said.

"Four years ago, we predicted that, by 2005, LCD televisions would become mainstream in households, and we can see that [this may] be achieved," he said.

LCD screens up to 30in are currently available, and Sharp plans to stretch the size to 40in, he said.

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