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Sharp unveils Linux-based handheld

The company introduces the new device for the Japanese market. The Zaurus SL-A300 uses the Linux OS and will be available in Japan starting July 12.

Sharp has announced a new Linux-based handheld for the Japanese market.

The company introduced the device at a press conference in Tokyo on Monday. The Zaurus SL-A300 uses the Linux operating system and will be available in Japan starting July 12 for 50,000 yen ($411).

Although there is a tendency for Japanese companies to introduce a product in Japan before bringing it to the United States, U.S. representatives of Sharp said Monday that there are no plans to introduce the SL-A300 in the United States. They declined to comment further.

Sharp has been selling a Linux-based device, its Zaurus SL-5500, since April of this year. The new SL-A300 has some higher-end features than the SL-5500 as well as a sleeker design. Best Buy recently cut the price of the SL-5500 from $500 to $400.

"Zaurus has always done better in Japan than here," said IDC analyst Kevin Burden. "They are just hoping to carve out a small niche in the U.S. by building off the decent population of Linux loyalists."

The Zaurus SL-A300 measures 0.5 inches by 2.7 inches by 4.4 inches and weighs 4.2 ounces. It uses Intel's 200MHz XScale PXA210 processor, 64MB of memory and a 3.5-inch active matrix display with a resolution of 320 pixels by 240 pixels. It also has a Secure Digital slot for expansion.

The SL-A300 comes with the Zaurus Shot program, which allows Zaurus owners to download any data from a PC, such as a Web page, and see it exactly as they would on the PC screen. The device also comes with applications that allow owners to edit Microsoft Word and Excel files and perform typical organizer functions, such as keeping track of appointments and storing contact information.