NEC has provided the public with a first glimpse of its planned PDA (personal digital assistant), taking the wraps off a prototype of the device at the World PC Expo show which is currently taking place just outside Tokyo.

No specifications were offered about the PDA, which was on show as part of a demonstration of new GPS (global positioning system) and wireless LAN CompactFlash cards, however the prototype was running the Windows CE operating system. Below a colour display of around 4in it has a large button with up/down and left/right movement and, to either side of that, two smaller buttons.

In addition to the CompactFlash slot, the prototype also has an SD (secure digital) memory card slot and a button similar to the 'jog-dial' key on Sony's Clié PDA.

"We're planning to ship it at the end of this year, both in Japan and the rest of the world," said Susumu Sakamoto, a spokesman for NEC. He wouldn't reveal additional details about the device except to say it is based on an Intel StrongARM processor.

NEC announced its intention to enter the PDA market in July this year. In doing so, it becomes the latest major Japanese electronics manufacturer to attempt to stake a claim to a portion of the expanding market. Earlier this year, Toshiba unveiled its first PDA and Sony got into the market last year with its Clié PDA.