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Sharp, JVC ready handhelds

Both will introduce inexpensive, scaled-down handheld devices this fall in what is becoming a crowded market.

Sharp and JVC will both introduce inexpensive, scaled-down handheld assistants this fall, in what is turning out to be a crowded field.

Basic devices that offer scaled-down email, calendar, and an address book are becoming popular as established brands like Palm Computing's PalmPilot and devices based on Microsoft Windows CE operating system approach desktop PC functionality in a handheld package.

The new devices, designed primarily for email, will compete this fall with similar products such as the diVinci from Royal and the Rex Pro from Franklin.

Both the Sharp Tel-Mail TM-20 and the JVC HC-E100 are based on PocketScience PocketMail wireless service, which is designed to simplify the sometimes unwieldy process of connecting handheld devices to the Internet.

The PocketMail service, which costs $9.95 per month, essentially bypasses modem and dial-up connectivity issues by allowing users to send and receive emails and faxes by holding the device against a telephone handset.

JVC's handheld, the HC-E100, is offering 128KB of memory to store addresses and will be introduced in November for an estimated retail price of $129.95.

The Sharp Tel-Mail TM-20 also includes contact management applications, as well as PC link software to synchronize handheld and desktop data, and a calendar function. The Tel-Mail TM-20 will be available in December for $150.