NEC has unveiled its PocketGear PDA (personal digital assistant), at the same time as rival electronics maker Fujitsu announced its plans to enter the increasingly crowded PDA market.
The new NEC machine, like Fujitsu's planned product, is based on Microsoft's new Pocket PC 2002 operating system. The new software was unveiled hours earlier by Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's chief executive officer, at an event in San Francisco, where Ballmer restated Microsoft's commitment to the PDA market and reaffirmed his company's determination to beat off competition, at present mainly from Palm.
Like many of its competitors, NEC chose to base its PDA on Intel's StrongARM processor running at 206MHz and not one of its own VR series microprocessors, which have powered some of NEC's Windows CE-based portable computers.
"Unlike personal computers, Pocket PC is still somewhat dependent on the hardware platform so we decided to use the StrongARM to ensure support with third-party software developed in Europe and the US," said Kosuke Yamaouchi, a spokesman for NEC.
The PocketGear features a 3.8-inch colour TFT (thin film transistor) LCD (liquid crystal display) capable of displaying 65,536 colours, 32MB of both ROM and RAM, slots for Compact Flash (CF) and Secure Digital (SD) memory cards, a PC Card slot and IrDA infrared interface.
These features are largely in line with many of the other Pocket PC 2002-based machines already announced and leave little to choose between models from the various manufacturers, which include Compaq Computer, Toshiba and Casio Computer.
Physical specifications are also similar to other Pocket PC 2002 machines: the PocketGear weighs 190 grams and measures 126 x 78 x 18.5 millimetres.
As NEC was disclosing details of the PocketGear, Fujitsu threw its hat into the ring with the announcement that it plans to launch a PDA sometime in the first three months of 2002. The company offered few other details, except that it will be based on the Pocket PC 2002 operating system and will go on sale in Japan, Europe, North America and Asia.