Published on May 21st,2008 at 9:05 PM
By >Daimaou - G.G-B

WILLCOM D4 (Sharp WS016SH), Exclusive Review!!!

Last week we were invited by Willcom in Tokyo to test their hot new Willcom D4 aka Sharp WS016SH (don’t get the idea we flew thousands of klicks… their office is next door to ours).

We have here a 1.33GHz Centrino Atom Z520 CPU (one of the first UMPCs on the market carrying it!) Windows Vista, 40GB HDD, 1GB RAM, a 5″ 1024×600 TFT touchscreen all in a compact size of 84x188x25.9mm and weighing 470g… Nearly first generation PSP size!

After the press conference and the enthusiasm generated by it, we begged Willcom to let us have the D4 for a few hours in order to get a better idea of what the beast was all about. After a few exchanges, Willcom (the company is very open minded) allowed us to test drive an Alpha version (engineers are still working on optimizing it for Vista… mainly drivers/software). An engineer working closely on the project was also present to provide answers to our many questions… This opportunity enabled us to better understand what to expect with the final product.

Getting Started:

Overall the D4 is a beautiful machine, the latest generation to date with a flexible slide keyboard system. It’s fluid and robust, easy to handle with just one hand, with a very solid screen hinge system that when straightened resembles that of a classic portable and offers a multitude of configurations for various uses.

The screen looks great with a good resolution, even when viewed outdoors. The touchscreen responds very well with the stylus, and remains accurate when manipulated with your fingers (just don’t move them too fast… engineers are working on improving this point). The D4 also features a directional pad. Utilization was a little difficult, the amplitude of horizontal movement in relation to vertical is not the same, the cursor is faster horizontally. The engineer explained this was only a matter of setting the driver level, thus easily changeable.

About Performance:

As seen on the video, the D4 suffers a little with Vista… It’s clear that in order to use Vista, you better have a powerful system, and its clearly inadequate for running a mini-portable type UMPC. However, owning a Vista running Sony UX92 (DSS), I can tell you the D4 seems faster. Note that the first model you see on the video is the software test version (with a lot of stuff installed) and the interface you see is a Beta version (I do scroll/drag icons… our test engineer is developing this feature and showed us his D4 test … this is where we got the scoop to beta test this device), and not yet optimized. Some features were not yet efficiently integrated (hence the error messages that appeared). When I surf the Net it’s with another model with a cleaner Vista installation (SP1), and therefore more efficient… I remain skeptical about using of Vista with a UMPC and Atom, and I wonder if the lack of information released concerning Vista’s reliability on this platform is not simply due to Vista being too greedy with resources… In fact I was told that the Windows XP D4 was very fast… I believe it!

Features/Connectivities:

Numerous! OneSeg TV (the standard mobile digital TV in Japan), WiFi, Bluetooth (for connecting on a mobile affiliate) 2Mpx camera, mini USB, micro SD…… etc. As for the the odd looking card shown on the video, it’s a W-SIM. It acts as a SIM card and contains the phone PHS (equivalent to GSM) transmitter/receiver … You may not find this very interesting, but it’s an example of other cards that could be used on other networks. Why not a 3G, or something else in the future?



Pros:
High Technologie in PSP size !
Design
Keyboard with multitude of configurations
Screen Touch
Functionalities

Cons:
Vista !!!
Only 1 Go of ram
Sell only in Japan

Conclusion:
Although the D4 Beta version was not very well optimized, our enthusiasm remains unchanged. Beautiful design, ergonomic, a well thought out keyboard, multiple positions, touchscreen…… I’m impatient to get my hands on a final version (the first thing I’ll do is install XP! HAHAHA). There’s no doubt a community will be created around this machine, offering drivers for other OS. With Willcom’s team spirit and open-mindedness, I don’t think they’ll put a spanner in the wheels of projects emerging around their machine.

I leave you with these photos and the video!

Category Review
              
WILLCOM D4 (Sharp WS016SH), Exclusive Review!!!WILLCOM D4 (Sharp WS016SH), Exclusive Review!!!
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Comments
 

  • Advanc

    What a great product!~
    Mr Daimou, Will u get a chance to review me about XDA Atmos,
    Thanks~

  • Gar

    What i’m more interested in is what’s the name of that song in the video? =D

  • http://gm.stackunderflow.com/ gm

    If that’s x86, I wonder how well it would run Linux? Drivers might be a bit annoying, but it would be awesome if it worked!

  • siliconvalleyexec

    I have been so unimpressed with all the UMPC’s unitl now! I want to buy this D4! I hear that third party resellers will sell them in the US? I am no techno geek so my question is will it run Vista ok for general business use? or should I wait unitl there are proven ways to run XP? For business you need to run MS but for me XP would be fine. ????

  • Syzygy77

    The song is called “Just want to be me” by Coppe. You can hear it at goodnessmusic dot com

  • Gylman

    Another potentially great device ruined by Vista.

    Seriously, why do these vendors do that? This was one I would have seriously thought about getting.

    But anything with Vista is off my list, no questions asked. Why cripple a small device by making it carry that obese operating system on its back?

  • steviej

    woah….. (drools)

    me wants one…

  • http://www.playawaygames.com GamesEarth

    Prefer my Nokia E90….sorry

  • mobilemarkeingman88

    Nokia is using the proprietary Sybian that is just very good or practical to collaborate with others. I think this is a better device due to it having MS; although I agree I think XP would be better as so far Vista has been luke warm at best?

    I want one!

  • mobilemarkeingman88

    I read online that it is being released July 11th? Are you going to do a review on the final product so that you can give us an informed review about how it differs from the alpha version you reviewed? I am definately considering this UMPC but this would be my first imported Japan computer and that is a bit scarey so I would appreciate a review and opinion.

    I think this is the best UMPC so far and hope more UMPC designs have a touch type keyboard and are based on a jacket size form factor. Sharp has never had great keyboards even in the HPC days but this keyboard still seems the best in such a small size.

  • http://www.flickr.com/orcinus Ante

    Is there any way to buy the D4 in Japan without a contract? I have a co-worker going to Tokyo in a week and would seriously like to use the opportunity (if there’s a way)…

  • mobilesalesman

    Conics.net and a few others are selling them outside of Japan!

    Also surprisingly Pocketables.net has one and is providing great reviews on different aspects of the D4. While they are waiting for the extended battery which gives it 4 hours or more of juice they did test Vista performance and it was surprisingly good! They have a 14 minute video on the Vista performance.

    We need more UMPC ‘s like this design!

  • ontherunallthetime

    Why was akihabranews able to get infor so early yet once the D4 was available there has been nothing to follow up on the actual product? I loved the prototype articles but the actual product seems to have very good performance and I was expecting to find more information here?

  • http://www.planetmetropolis.com DavidM99

    This is a very cool product. This product just reeks of cool factor. The new Intel Atom prococessors are definitely making for many cool new products. (It is also much nicer than that WiBrain UMPC)

  • Ricardo

    how can i get the d4

  • Take_junior

    i sel d4 with 500 dolars is in a perfect shape

 

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