Sharp Leaving U.S. Handheld Market

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This summer, Sony announced it was going to stop offering handhelds anywhere but Japan, its home country. Just last month, Toshiba said it was giving up on the U.S. handheld market. Now, Sharp has said it will offer no more handhelds in the United States.

A representative of this Japan-based company told infoSync that it is going to stop offering new Zaurus models in the U.S., though it will continue to support ones that have already been sold here.

This doesn’t mean this company is getting out of the handheld market entirely. Instead, it will focus on its home market. It stopped selling handhelds in Europe last year.

Sharp never completely committed to the U.S. While it did offer its tablet-shaped models in this country, like the Zaurus SL-6000L which came out earlier this year, these could only be purchased online. Its models that used a clamshell design were never officially released in the U.S.

Sharp Zaurus SL-6000L There is some good news in this. The SL-6000L, a tablet model which hit the U.S. at $700 this spring (see picture at left), has been reduced on Amazon.com to just $450.

Those outside of Japan who would like to own a future Zaurus model will have the option of turning to importers like Dynamism, who buy electronic gadgets available only in Japan and re-sell them in the U.S.

More about the Zaurus Line

Sharp’s Zaurus handhelds attracted a lot of attention because of their cutting-edge features.

For example, the first Zaurus with a VGA screen came out in 2002, more than a year before the first VGA Pocket PC. The latest Zaurus, the SL-C3000, includes a built-in 4 GB hard drive, something no Palm or Pocket PC offers yet.

As mentioned earlier, Sharp made both clamshell and tablet models. No matter what the shape, all the Zauruses use Linux as their operating system, with Trolltech’s Qtopia environment providing the user interface.

Sharp Zaurus SL-C3000 The clamshell models all have a 3.7-inch VGA display that supports both portrait and landscape modes (see picture at right). They also include an SD Card slot and a CompactFlash Type II slot.

The tablet models also have a small built-in keyboard, which is exposed by pulling down on the bottom of the device.

The SL-6000L, the last Zaurus to be released in the United States, has a 4-inch 480-by-640-pixel (VGA) screen, Wi-Fi, and an SD/MMC slot.

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