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.
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.
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!
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?
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!