AST Research has thrown its weight behind the hand-held personal digital assistant (PDA) market. It announced it would release a 450-gram pen-based unit in the first quarter of next year. Making the announcement yesterday at Comdex, in Las Vegas, AST said it would target its device - now known only as the Model 2390 - initially at corporate and government users. The company said the Model 2390 was designed as a data collection and entry device for applications like inspections, inventory control, market research and surveys, or signature verification. But AST also hopes to find a market for its new device among individuals by including a suite of personal information management (PIM) and financial management software bundled with the device. The system will run under the BEOS operating software from Geoworks - the same operating system used in zoomer, the PDA device AST acquired when it bought the PC operation of Tandy. AST claims to have the largest installed base and broadest range of pen-enabled systems of any computer supplier, largely because of its Tandy acquisition.