This article is part of the Quick Takes series. Quick Takes are based on short-term usage of various gadgets provided by Dynamism, the best place to find next-generation notebooks and consumer electronics from Japan and around the world.

When the average American thinks of a PDA, the Sharp Zaurus isn’t the first, second, third, or even fourth device that comes to mind. This isn’t particularly surprising given that the company pulled out of the U.S. market years ago and Americans tend to embrace things that are most readily available to them.

By contrast, in Sharp’s hometown of Japan, the handhelds have been dominating Japanese PDA sales since the 1990s. In fact, the Zaurus SL-C700 was even awarded the Best in Show prize at CES 2003. For a concise history of the product line, including a rundown of previous and current models, check out Wikipedia’s entry here.

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The newest addition to the Zaurus lineup, the SL-C3200, was released in March 2006. Since then, it hasn’t really caught the attention of more than a couple of reviewers (presumably because not much has changed since last year’s C3100 and the previous year’s C3000). Compared to earlier models, a significant gap exists in the amount and depth of information written about the C3200.

With that in mind, my time with the device begins…

System specifications

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Dimensions: 4.9” x 3.4” x 1.0”
Weight: 10.5 ounces
Operating system: Linux/Qtopia
Processor: 416MHz Intel XScale PXA270
HDD: 6GB microdrive
RAM: 64MB
Flash ROM: 128MB
Display: 3.7” TFT (64K colors, 640 x 480 resolution)

Closer look

Personally, I think this is one of the best-looking PDAs around. I’m incredibly partial to clamshell designs, so the C3200 doesn’t disappoint in the style category. Opening the unit to reveal the display and keyboard is smooth and easy.

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The screen can be positioned in a variety of viewing angles; it can even be opened to lay almost completely flat. This isn’t a particularly useful angle, but it’s good to know that there’s little chance of pushing the display so far back that it breaks.

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One of the head-turning features of the C3200 is its rotating display. The TFT touchscreen twists 180 degrees and can be used in the more standard PDA portrait mode. Screen orientation switches automatically, which is a nice touch.

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On the front of the device are the power button and an SD card expansion slot.

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The back features USB 2.0 and power ports, "OK" and "Cancel" buttons, and a rocker switch that I think should’ve been replaced with a scrollwheel.

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There’s a Compact Flash card slot and headphone jack on the left side of the unit and an infrared sensor (barely visible in the photo) on the right.

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Flipping the Zaurus over reveals the battery compartment, battery lock switch, speaker, and four rubber strips to keep the unit from sliding around.

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Box contents
And just in case this post doesn’t have enough pictures, let’s take a quick look at what’s in the box.

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The C3200 ships with an unimpressive set of accessories: manuals, software CDs, earphones, USB 2.0 cable, battery, adapter, and stylus. Everything is standard and not really worth individual pictures, but since I already snapped them…

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Read the next part of this review here.