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Although it's a late arrival at the Symbian ball, Sanyo this week has become the first OEM to show a living, breathing Quartz prototype at the Ceatac show in Japan.

The hybrid phone/PDA has been built with the help of Phoenix, the BIOS company, which is providing firmware for the device. Sanyo reckons it's the first PDA to support Bluetooth and USB. This is of course, all part of the Quartz specification which we've known about since February. Quartz calls for an upright tablet with quarter-VGA colour screen and integrated telephony, the idea being that you make calls from a wireless Bluetooth headset or a standard wired earpiece. Phoenix is an integration partner for Symbian in Japan, tasked with helping OEM bring these devices to market.

So far we've seen plenty of Quartz hardware mock-ups, with full-colour bits of paper stuck to the front where the screen should be, and also demonstrations running inside an emulator on a PC. But this looks like the real thing.

Quartz communicators are now expected to be ready to ship by the end of the second quarter next year, a little later than planned but still at least a full year ahead of Microsoft's Stinger smartphone and whatever Motorola and Palm are planning to brew up together. Although the latter is likely to less of hybrid, and more of a shotgun marriage of Palm's Trabant of a 16bit PDA OS and a CDMA handset. That hasn't exactly been rolling off the shelves Stateside, and Qualcomm has since sold its handset business.

Mindful of the hype which preceded, and caused great long-term damage to Apple's Newton, Symbian has been wary of stoking pre-launch hype. However the Sanyo demonstration should help steady some nerves. ®

You can find a picture of the device here.

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Ericsson demos prototype EPOC communicator
Inside Quartz: Symbian's new Palm-killer platform
Sanyo joins the Symbian club

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