Sharp Zaurus SL-5500 running OpenZaurus
, with docking cradle and stylus
The Sharp Zaurus is the name of a series of Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) made by Sharp Corporation. The Zaurus was the most popular PDA during the 1990s in Japan and was based on a proprietary operating system. The first Sharp PDA to use a variant of the Linux operating system was the SL-5000D. The variant was Embedix Plus.
In September 1993, Sharp introduced the PI-3000, the first in the Zaurus line of PDAs. Featuring a black and white LCD screen, handwriting recognition, and optical communication capabilities among its features, the Zaurus soon became one of Sharp's flagship products.
The PI-4000, released in 1994, expanded the Zaurus' features with a built-in modem and facsimile functions. This was succeeded in 1995 by the PI-5000, which had e-mail and mobile phone interfaces, as well as PC linking capability. The Zaurus K-PDA was the first Zaurus to have a built-in keyboard in addition to handwriting recognition; the PI-6000 and PI-7000 in brought additional improvements.
During this time, Sharp was making significant advances in color LCD technology. In May of 1996, the first color Zaurus was released; the MI-10 and MI-10DC were equipped with a five-inch color thin-film transistor (TFT) LCD screen. This model had the ability to connect to the internet, and had a built-in camera and audio recorder. Later that year, Sharp developed a forty-inch TFT LCD screen, the world's largest at the time. In December, the MI-10/10DC Zaurus was chosen as the year's best product by Information Display Magazine in the United States.
Sharp continued to make advancements in display technology; the Zaurus gained additional multimedia capabilities, such as video playback, with the introduction of the MI-E1 in Japan in November of 2000. The MI-E1 was also the first Zaurus to support both Secure Digital and CompactFlash memory cards, a feature which would become standard on future models as well.
Although the MI series was extremely popular in Japan, it was never released in either the USA or Europe - probably largely due to the strictly Japanese UI, which was never translated into any other language. As a result, the machines released outside Japan were the Linux based SL series, the first of which was the SL-5000D "developer edition." This was shortly followed by the SL-5500; both used 'Embedix', an embedded version of the Linux operating system developed by Lineo.
The development of the MI series in Japan was continued for a while, but the MI-E25DC has been officially declared to be the last MI-Series Zaurus.
Sharp has continued development of the SL series in Japan releasing the SLC-700, 750, 760 and 860 models which all feature 640x480 VGA screen resolution. They are all based on faster 400 Mhz Intel XScale technology, although the SLC-700 was flawed and the apparent speed was the same as the 206MHz SL-5500. All four of the SLC models are clamshell type devices with the unusual ability to rotate the screen. This allows the device to be used in 'landscape' mode with the keyboard, much like a miniature notebook PC, or in 'portrait' mode as a PDA. While these devices are not sold by Sharp in the US or EU there is an active market on the internet. Devices from Japan are converted to English language and offered for resale through internet merchants.
Since the release of the SL-5500G a German company called 'TRIsoft" sells the Zaurus all over Europe. Because the newer models aren't distributed by Sharp, you may get machines and support by them.
- Personal Information (PI) series
- Pi² T, proof of concept model presented in April 1992
- PI-3000, the first model, introduced to the Japanese market on October 1, 1993
- PI-4000/FX, second generation with ink and fax capabilities, on sale in Japan June 1994
- PI-5000/FX/DA, first model capable of syncing data to a personal computer, going on sale in November 1994.
- PI-4500, is introduced in January 1995
- PI-6000/FX, featuring a new handwriting recognition software, on sale in Japan August 1995.
- PI-6000DA, adding a digital adapter for cellular phones, introduced on December 12, 1995
- PI-7000, dubbed AccessZaurus (アクセスザウルス) sports a built in modem, is introduced in February 1996.
- Note: Confusingly, Sharp made another unit called the "PI-7000 ExpertPad", which was a Newton based device, not a Zaurus.
- PI-6500, was introduced to the Japanese market with a list price of 55,000 Yen on November 22, 1996. Measuring 147x87x17mm and weighting 195g including the batteries, it sports a 239x168 dot matrix display and 715KB of user addressable memory.
- PI-8000, went on sale on January 24, 1997 with a list price of 80,000 Yen. It featured a 319x168 dot matrix display, 711KB user addressable memory, measuring 157x90x17mm, and weighting 215g including batteries.
- PI-6600, the last AccessZaurus with a 239x168 dot matrix display, measuring 147x87x17mm and a weight of 195g including batteries. It went on sale in Japan on September 25, 1997.
- K-PDA (ZR) series
- ZR-5000/FX, a clam-shell model only sold outside of Japan, going on sale in January 1995.
- MI series
- MI-10DC/10, nicknamed ColorZaurus, was the first model to have a color display. The DC model featured a digital camera and was initially priced 155,000 Yen. The MI-10 was listed as 120,000 Yen. Both models went on sale on June 25, 1996.
- MI-506DC/506/504, PowerZaurus
- MI-110M/106M/106, ZaurusPocket
- MI-610/610DC, PowerZaurus
- MI-310, ZaurusColorPocket
- MI-EX1, Zaurus iCRUISE - This was the first PDA with a 640x480 resolution display
- MI-C1-A/S, PowerZaurus
- MI-P1-W/A/LA, Zaurus iGeti
- MI-P2-B, Zaurus iGeti - More internal software, more Flash
- MI-P10-S, Zaurus iGeti - Larger RAM and Flash than P1/P2
- MI-J1,Internet Dictionary Zaurus
- MI-E1,First vertical display model - mini keyboard
- MI-L1,Stripped down E1 - lacks display backlight
- MI-E21,Enhanced version of E1 - double RAM and ROM size
- MI-E25DC,a MI-E21 with an internal 640x480 digital camera
- Other MI Series related devices
- BI-L10,Business Zaurus - Mono screen, 4Mb IRDA, Network Adapter
- MT-200,Communications pal - Keyboard input, limited I/O
- MT-300,Communications pal - 4MB flash, restyled
- MT-300C,Communications pal - CDMAone version
- Browser Board,MT-300 with NTT DoCoMo specific software
- Linux based SL series
- SL-5000D, a developer edition of the SL-5500, containing 32 MB of RAM.
- SL-5500, the first new Zaurus to be sold outside Japan, is based on the Intel SA-1100 StrongARM processor, has 64 MB of RAM, a built-in keyboard, CompactFlash (CF) slot, Secure Digital (SD) slot, and Infrared port.
- SL-A300, an ultra-light PDA with no keyboard, sold only in Japan
- SL-B500, name of the SL-5600 in Japan
- SL-5600, the successor to the SL-5500, with greater processing capability and increased RAM. Based on the Intel XScale 400MHz processor.
- SL-C700, a clam-shell model and the first PDA to use Sharp's "System LCD" display, sold only in Japan
- SL-C750, an improved version of the SL-C700; longer battery life, better processor and updated software, sold only in Japan
- SL-C760, an improved version of the SL-C700 with more RAM than the SL-C750, sold only in Japan
- SL-C860, similar to SL-C760, has built in E<->J translation software, sold only in Japan
- SL-C3000, latest clam-shell model, similar to SL-C860, only 16Mb flash storage but first PDA with HDD !, this unit has a 4Gb Hitachi HDD, sold only in Japan.
- SL-6000, the successor to the SL-5600, VGA resolution display, Intel XScale PXA255 400MHz processor, CF and SD slots, and IR port. Built in microphone, speaker, USB host port, and 802.11b Wi-Fi.
With the switch to the Linux operating system the Zaurus became capable of running variations of a wide variety of proprietary and open source software, including web and FTP servers, databases, and compilers. Some developers have created an open source environment for the Zaurus called OpenZaurus, which uses the OPIE (operating system) or GPE graphical user interfaces and is designed for the power user, but it does not include the proprietary software which is distributed with the Zaurus.
- Official Zaurus site (http://www.zaurus.com/)
- Japanese official Zaurus site (in Japanese) (http://www.zaurusworld.ne.jp/)
- MyZaurus (http://www.myzaurus.com/), a portal for Zaurus users
- Zaurus User Group (http://www.zaurususergroup.com/)
- Zaurus Software Index (http://www.killefiz.de/zaurus/)
- Official Sharp dealer (http://www.trisoft.de)
- OpenZaurus (http://www.openzaurus.org/), an open-source alternative to the ROM distributed with the Zaurus
- Irongeek's Zaurus Security Tools Page (http://www.irongeek.com/i.php?submenu=zaurus/zaurusheader&page=zaurus/zaurusmain), Security Tools on the Zaurus
- AskFactMaster.Com2zaurus (http://www.retsiemuab.de/AskFactMaster.Com2zaurus), Download all of AskFactMaster.Com for use on the Zaurus