While we were checking out Freescale’s Smartbook Tablet reference design earlier, the team there whipped out the Sharp Netwalker PC-Z1 and asked if we wanted to play with another device based on their mobile chipsets. It seemed rude to say no; after all, this distinctive little clamshell packs a 5-inch touchscreen and full QWERTY keyboard along with its 800MHz ARM Cortex A8 processor. Check out our first-impressions after the cut.
Like other MIDs we’ve seen this week, the Netwalker certainly isn’t a mass-market device. The keyboard is very small, and like the Fujitsu UH900 we wouldn’t want to peck out much more than an email on its compact keys. In fact the design of both – with a track-stick under the right thumb and mouse buttons under the left – are quite similar to the UH900; Sharp have sensibly stuck with a lower screen resolution of 1024 x 600, which we reckon will be more comfortable on the eyes than the Fujitsu’s higher 1280 x 800.
Of course, a lot of this is academic since right now the Sharp is only officially on sale in Japan. The 800MHz processor manages to keep things moving reasonably briskly, thanks to the tweaked Ubuntu 9.04 OS; that non-Windows OS, like on other Smartbooks, may be the one significant hurdle to market penetration.
Sharp Netwalker PC-Z1 demo: