Sharp finally shuts down the Zaurus


We first reported almost a year ago that Sharp was shutting down the venerable Zaurus PDA line but apparently that was premature.  The Zaurus has been around for at least ten years and has long been an outstanding piece of engineering from Sharp.  We were very impressed with the last Zaurus we reviewed, the SL-C3000, as it stood the test of time and was an incredibly useful device.  There are enthusiasts all over the world devoted to the Zaurus line and developers are still producing software for it.  Word is out that it is official finally, Sharp has pulled the plug on the Zaurus.  She will be missed.




I was handed a 5000D by Sharp’s VP of R&D who was in charge of designing it, while working at a research institute at the U of Alberta. I was instantly hooked, and currently own at least one of every model type.

We contacted that VP about a year and a half ago to talk with him about it. Turns out Sharp had 2 failings that kept them from owning the MID market years before anyone else:

1) No concept of how to use the open source community. He literally didn’t understand why anyone would code for free, or why they’d need source code.

2) Sharp designed it, and strictly viewed it as, a fancy electronic dictionary. The fact that it was the smallest usable, full blown computer never occurred to them.

If we’d decided to talk to them 2 1/2 years ago instead of 1 1/2 years, we might have been able to do something. As it was, we were too late. “Our” VP had moved on to a new project (W-Zero phone thing, I think) and the new guy in charge refused to talk. :(


I bought the SL-5600 when it first came out. It still works great. I initially used it as a wardriving device to monitor how fast WiFi was growing in the Dallas suburbs. I really liked the slideout full keyboard. I think it was a device ahead of its time, a fully functional OS that allowed you to actually develop apps on the device itself. I wrote many java apps on this device, great memories.


Just to add to my first post: The main reason I bought both 5000D and 5500 was they had Linux (Qtopia-based Embedix Plus). I found these devices very well built, all applications worked very well, and I still consider those my first UMPCs/Tablets (today I have a Q1P/2GB and an HP2710p) since I used then to take handwritten notes, agenda/calendar, address book, etc.
As I mentioned, short battery life was the only major drawback I found on these nice pieces of engineering.
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I have always felt that the Zaurus line came out to soon. Just look at the Maemo devices. The N770, N800 and N810 are all still great devices and they all run Linux. The Zaurus came out in a time where noone knew what Linux was. Now there’s a whole lot of devices out there that run Linux and alot of people don’t even know it…..The Tivo, alot of routers, The Popcorn Hour, the original Eee PC 701, the Neuros Link and the original OSD. They all run Linux and you can use them without even knowing or caring that it runs Linux.


The zaurus will be missed. I never got to own one because of high import prices but I came really close to ordering one in 2005.

The beauty of the zaurus was that it was really an all in one device. It was small enough and had the battery life to be used as a pda. It had the connectivity and software to be used as a mid. It had the form factor and ports to be a productive mobile device. But it did require some hacking to get the linux magic to work.

Unfortunately the specs weren’t that impressive compared to windows mobile devices and sharp probably made the right choice in not competing on the waning PDA market.

I can’t help but wonder if I would still be using it today if I had bought it instead of getting a tapwave zodiac and eventually a Samsung Q1.

sticky note man

I have never seen this device before, but it looks really cool. I am kind of new to this small technology world. The first time I saw the HTC Advantage, (about a year ago) I was hooked. All those times I tried to make the early model palm pilots work for me and they just weren’t quite there. This thing looks like it would have been really a handy tool. Dare I say it might have been the predecessor to the netbook. This looks like it might still be fun to have today. The screen size HAS to be more readable than the TILT or the Touch Pro. Did I read correctly that they never introduced a US version? I wonder why?


Sad news! I first got the SL-5000D “developer edition” with 32MB of RAM back in 2001, and sometime later I updated to of the SL-5500 with 64MB, and had a lot of fun with my “pocket Linux server”. I still have the 5500, it is a nice machine, even tough battery life just sucks…
RIP Zaurus!

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