The Sharp SL-5500 Zaurus is a powerful hand held computer. Thanks in part to its innately hackable Linux operating system, it has a strong user base and a wide variety of applications and even platforms have been developed as open source for it.

    The SL-5500 features:
  • Industry standard CompactFlash and Secure Digital (SD) interfaces for expansion products
  • Intel StrongARM 206mhz processor
  • 64mb RAM
  • 320x240 LCD VGA screen
  • Slide out mini QWERTY keyboard
  • 3.5mm Headset Jack (Microphone and stereo headphones)
  • Embedded sound subsystem with 16 bit stereo DAC for CD quality sound playback/record
  • Proprietary Sharp USB-a-like connector (utilises usbdnet to connect to host PC)

The reference SHARP platform is implemented in Qtopia and includes a media player, note taker, calendar, E-mail application, PDF reader, and spreadsheet application. It also synchronises to Microsoft Outlook via one of two applications: the included IntelliSync software or the reference Qtopia Desktop for Windows. Despite being a Linux PDA, Sharp supports no Linux tools for synchronising a desktop to the PDA.

Fortunately, numerous projects have emerged producing alternative platforms and applications for the Zaurus. These include OpenZaurus, Familiar , Debian on Handhelds, and Gentoo for Zaurus.

Through its two expansion ports (rare in this generation of PDAs, the Zaurus can seamlessly support 802.11b, Bluetooth, Ethernet as well as expansion non-volatile memory of up to 7 gig (via compact flash).

The battery life of a Zaurus is up to 12 hours of normal use, or providing about 6 hours of MP3 playback or 2 hours of wireless networking (via compact flash adapter).

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