Panasonic gets tough on handhelds

Matsushita, the parent company of the Panasonic brand, has unveiled a rugged, water-resistant personal digital assistant (PDA).

Matsushita, the parent company of the Panasonic brand, has unveiled a rugged, water-resistant personal digital assistant (PDA).

The company says its waterproof ProNote FG Handy PDA can withstand drops of up to 1.2 metres. The device is Matsushita's first PDA and will be aimed at the US corporate market as the Toughbook 01.

The PDA's ability to withstand falls and to resist water makes it suitable for those working at industrial sites, the company said.

The device runs Windows CE 3.0, measures x 41x173mm and weighs 480g. Optional features include internal mobile packet data or wireless LAN systems, a global positioning system unit and a bar code reader.

Matsushita unveiled a rugged mobile PC, the ProNote Air FG in June, but users wanted something smaller and lighter. The ProNote FG Handy meets that demand, said a spokeswoman for Matsushita.

The company has already started taking corporate orders in the US and Europe, and will be ready to ship the products at the end of November. The device will be priced at about $999 in the US and the company plans to manufacture 50,000 units a year.

Matsushita is just the latest in a line of Japanese companies to enter the PDA market, following on the heels of NEC and Fujitsu. There are no plans for a consumer version.

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