Published on October 23rd,2004 at 1:57 PM
By >Daimaou - G.G-B

Sharp Muramasa CV-50F

Thanks to the integration of GeekStuff4U.com, you will see a series of reviews of the most sexy ultra portables from the country of the rising sun.

We’ll kick off this series with the Sharp Muramasa CV-50F. It situates itself somewhere in between a laptop and a PDA, and in Japan, it’s marketed mainly at women and businessmen that want an all-in-one solution in a luxury and small package.

Before going any further, let’s have a look at a detailed specifications sheet of this device.

Yes, that’s correct, 880gr and twice as big as a Sharp Zaurus! There are lighter devices on the market (a difference of 100gr with the Vaio X505CP), but the footprint is smaller than the competing devices. This is the smallest PC with an integrated keyboard, even compared to the Vaio U50 (which does not even have a keyboard).

Building on its experience with the Zaurus line-up, Sharp has managed to concentrate a lot of high-end technology into a really small package.

So let’s talk about that technology. Sharp likes to wander off the beaten path and tries to innovate to keep an edge over the competition. An example of this attitude is the Linux operating system of the Zaurus line and these ultra-portable PC’s that weigh less than 1.5kg and are not powered by an Intel CPU but by a Transmeta Efficeon (a TM8600 running at 1Ghz in this case). Compared to the Pentium M, it uses less power and is able to adapt its speed to the needs of the user. If you click on the second picture, you’ll see that it does not even run at 1000 but at 829Mhz.


The performance of the processor is good, but it does not achieve the same level of performance as a Pentium M or Celeron M. More on this later in a benchmark test.

Let’s move on to the video card, which is not too bad (for this kind of ultra-portable computers). This is a 16Mb ATI Radeon Mobility card (the memory is shared with the RAM of the PC).

We’ll have more details on this during the benchmarking. Let’s have a look at the other aspects of this little device now. The hard disk drive has a capacity of 20Gb, which is reasonable for this kind of PC’s, and you’ll get the full 20Gb as Sharp delivers recovery CD’s with the computer and does not use a recovery partition. In Japan these CD’s contain a Japanses OS, but when you order one of these beauties via GeekStuff4U, you’ll get a French, English or Spanish OS with all the necessary drivers and software if you ever need to reinstall your laptop.



To give you a good idea of the dimensions of this PC, we took some pictures of it next to a IPAQ 2215 PDA and a Vaio U50 (expect a review of that one really soon).









Not very big all that, right? Even with these reduced dimensions, Sharp has not overlooked the crucial point of any portable device these days: the connectivity. The CV-50F has 2 USB2 ports, which allow you to hook up (as shown on the pictures) an external combo drive (DVD-reader and CD-burner).



A Type I & II CF port and an SD port are available too, as well as the Direct HD port (but more on this revolutionary port later).




A microphone port and headphones jack are also present, right next to the mains power connector.


The wireless connectivity has the b flavour, so limited to 11Mbps (we would have liked to see a/b/g though).


A close-up look at the keyboard on this device… quite a standard element of a laptop, unless your name is Vaio U50 of course.

Now on to a small revolution which originates from the Mac-world: the Direct HD, or how a small port can change the way we work and use a laptop.
Being extremely mobile, I always carry my good old Vaio Z1 in my bag. Nice thing, good keyboard to work on, but on the heavy side. Everything is concentrated into my Z1, but once in the office or at home, I want to work on my 21″ monitor hooked up to a powerful PC that has everything I need. Problem is how to synchronise emails, contacts, agenda or even normal files. I’m synching everything via the network, external HDD’s or DVD-RAM, but there has to be a more elegant and easier solution…

So imagine a small portable PC like the CV-50F, which is perfect for doing small things on the go, and hook this small device up via a USB port to your PC at home or at work and have instant access to the HDD of this little PC like you would access a regular external HDD, on which you can easily access all your files. Another advantage of the USB2 connection is the speed: 480Mbps! Another cool function (albeit through optional software like SynchPST) is that you can synchronise the Sharp’s Outlook to the one at home or in the office, just like you would do with your PDA… but then at 480Mbps! Forget synching a 300Mb PST files through a 11Mbps connection…

This is a picture of the CV-50F hooked up to the Direct HD port.

A picture of the CV-50F seen as a HDD by my Vaio Z1


A screen resolution of 1280×768 allows you to work in a very comfortable manner on this CV-50F.



As you can see, the solution provided by GeekStuff4U.com allows you to unpack and get started immediately with your CV-50F. The OpenOffice Suite is compatible with Word, Excel and PowerPoint files and is available in several languages (French, English, Spanish, German, …).

Mozilla’s Mail Internet is available in several languages too, and completes the software package that gets you up-and-running in no time.



BENCHMARKING

I’m not a pro on the benchmarking scene, and you can basically make them say whatever you want. For me, the true benchmark is a real life usage of the machine in applications like DVD playback, Word, Mail, DivX playback, … . I don’t really think that playing Doom 3 on this machine would prove anything. In short, I have played DVD’s and DivX movies on full screen settings, and this did not generate the slightest problem. The PC’s response is very quick, despite the low amount of RAM memory (256Mb).

Since we need benchmarked results, here they are:

PC MARK 2004

PC MARK 2004

SANDRA


Thanks again to GeekStuff4U.com for providing us with this unit for a test.



Pros:
Direct HD
The design
The dimensions and the weight
A completely autonomous solution
An interesting price

Cons:
The battery replacement procedure
Adding RAM requires opening up the unit
Only WiFi b

Conclusion:
Sharp makes true ULTRA portable computers: a very compact design and specifications that overpower the Vaio U50′s. And the next step for Sharp is to release another little monster, aimed to destroy the Vaio X505.
Sharp has done an incredible job in reducing the dimensions of a real PC and fitting all of the functionalities into such a small casing. It’s almost as small as a PDA/Psion or Jordana 720HP, but then with a full Windows XP. Nothing is perfect in this world though, and the battery life of the standard battery is not that exceptional at 2h30 (but acceptable given the dimensions of the device). Changing the battery after a few years will require a shipment of the whole device to the manufacturer though. But by then, you might already be interested in another model… with better specifications.
A PC that can be used in conjunction with your other PC’s, thanks to the Direct HD function, is a magnificent idea for keeping your data up-to-date whetever you are and wherever you’re going. Mac already had this function, and this is introduced to the PC-world by Sharp with this little PC… good job, Sharp!

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