Ultra-Portable Laptop

Overview
I have received many inquiries in airports, conferences, classes, meetings, etc when I pull out my laptop and it is smaller than even the thinnest paper notebooks on the table. I’ve seen too many people not carry or use their portable computer because it was inconvenient, this defeats the purpose of a laptop. Even with my last Sony VAIO V505, which was only 4 lbs, I still found that I would leave it behind because it just wasn’t easy enough. Not so with this little system, it goes everywhere with me. This has been one of my most enjoyable, useful, and best investments.

Specifications

Sharp Actius MM10 (PDF)

Cost $1400
Weight 2.10 lbs (0.95 kg)
Dimensions 9.9″ x 8.2″ x 0.54″ (min.)/0.78″ (max)
Processor 1 GHz Transmeta Crusoe
Memory 256MB DDR SDRAM (fixed)
Video Controller SMI Lynx3DM+ w/ 8MB
Display 10.4″ XGA TFT LCD (1024×768)
Networking 10/100 Ethernet & 802.11b Wireless
Hard Drive 15GB
Pointing Device Touch-Pad
PCMCIA Type II x 1, CardBus port supported
I/O Ports USB 2.0 x 2, LAN, Audio output, VGA dongle cable connector, DC in, Cradle connection
Storage Media External USB 2.0 CD Writer / DVD Reader Combo

The Review

  • Purpose
    This is definitely a secondary, travel computer, it is not ment to be a primary system. Using a synchronization program I found with my own custom written multi-threading overhead, I can very easily synchronize my files to/from the laptop anytime. Frequently I’ll just use the laptop to Remote Desktop to my main system when on the couch, front porch, or friend’s house and will get another 30% of battery life.
  • Summery
    Overall I love this thing! For its purpose, I’d give it a 4.5 star rating.
  • Size
    Oh my gosh, this is definitely one of the biggest advantages! It is just so thin and light-weight! If a laptop is not light and small enough to be carried, it is no good to me (since it is not truly portable). The case is just barely thick enough for the PCMCIA and USB ports!
  • Low Power
    Since it uses the low power Transmeta processor, it runs cool, doesn’t need a fan, and runs about 2.5 hours on the standard battery and 9 hours on the slightly larger battery.
  • Speed
    Even through it is 1 GHz, it still runs slow, but is fast enough to run WinXP Pro, IIS, Visual Studio, Office, and anything else I’ve thrown at it.
  • Storage
    The 15GB may seem small, but I can still keep 5GB free. It uses a specialized hard drive because just the normal laptop drives are actually thicker than the computer!
  • Memory
    The 256MB of RAM may also seem small, but remember, it is not for high-power work and actually works out just fine. It hibernates and resumes quite quickly, which is a big plus.
  • Removable Media
    I actual really like the fact that it does not have internal removable media (floppy or CD drives) which I find quite unnecessary most of the time and would just add useless bulk. They only thing I’ve really needed the external CD drive for was reloading the operating system. Everything else I do through the Internet, FTP, USB Sticks, virtual CD mounts, etc.
  • Docking Cradle
    It comes with a docking cradle that mounts its internal hard drive as a drive on the main PC, but I never ever use it. I just use folder shares and a wireless network and am set.
  • Keyboard
    The keyboard is small. No doubt about it; it takes getting used to. Fry’s Electronics (where I bought it) stopped carrying it because of too many returns by people saying the keyboard was too small. Once you get used to it, it is very efficient and I can actually type faster on it. So much so that I purchased a similar mini-laptop styled keyboard for my main system.
  • Networking
    The 10/100 Ethernet and 802.11b wireless work great! The wireless does not take as much power as I would expect. It does not have a modem built in, but comes with a v.92 PCMCIA modem which I find I rarely ever need anyways.

Comparison
It has been hard to compare this unit since finding something comparable in weight and size has been difficult until recently. Sony just announced their new VAIO X505 which is very similar.

The VAIO X505 costs twice as much ($3k), uses an Intel 1 GHz M, has 512MB RAM, 20GB HD, does not have built-in 802.11b wireless, does not include a CD/DVD drive ($400 more), uses an eraser head pointer (no touch pad), weighs slightly less (1.9 lbs), is about the same physical size, is the same size and resolution display (10.4″), and does not have the option of an extended life battery.

Conclusion
This is designed to be a secondary, travel, take your files with you, type of compuer. For that, dang, it is awesome! The size, weight, price, and features just can’t be beat (yet).

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