Sharp NetWalker PC-Z1: What you get when you shrink a netbook

netwalker

Netbooks are small laptops. But the Sharp NetWalker PC-Z1 is small even by netbook standards. It’s probably safer to call this little computer with a 5 inch display a MID or Mobile Internet Device, but unlike many MIDs, it has a full QWERTY keyboard. You’re just going to need very tiny fingers to type properly on it.

The NetWalker actually looks a lot like the UMID M1, another 5 inch mini-laptop style device. But while the UMID M1 runs Windows XP, the Sharp NetWalker features Ubuntu Linux. And that kind of makes sense if you think about it, since the last time Sharp put out a line of tiny handheld laptops they also ran Linux.

The Sharp NetWalker sports a 1024 x 600 touchscreen display, an 800MHz Freescale i.MX515 CPU (based on ARM Cortex-A8 architecture), 4GB of Flash storage, and 512MB of RAM.

It has 2 USB ports, a microSDHC expansion slot, and 802.11b/g WiFi. The battery isn’t user removable, but Sharp says it should run for up to 10 hours at a time. And the computer reportedly launches in just 3 seconds. It will be available in Japan on September 25th for the equivalent of about $479. No word on whether this little guy will make it to the US, the company’s dual-screen Mebius netbook hasn’t made it to the West yet. But I’d be shocked if we didn’t see importers like Conics and Dynamism stock the NetWalker PC-Z1.

via Engadget and Akihabara News (where you can find hands-on pictures)

  • BoloMKXXVIII

    Now this is something I would like to get my hands on!!! Great specs for a ultra portable device. That is pretty high resolution for a 5″ screen. Yes, the keyboard is too small to type on normally, but it is a whole lot bigger than the one on my Blackjack. Too bad it isn't smaller still (less bezel/same screen size) and less pricy. It would easily fit in the cargo pockets in my shorts. $479 is just too much money for something that will get banged around a lot.

  • http://www.cufflinkman.co.uk cufflinks

    I recently purchased one of these notebooks and actually find it more handy that my laptop.

  • MonkeyKing1969

    In my book it fails the 'human design' threshold at least until babies start to type or capuchin monkeys are pressed into office work. I would welcome working with monkeys since despite the biting, dung throwing, and screeching they would be better co-workers. But I’ll hold off buying any Sharp Netwalkers until I see a resume written by a ‘go-getter’ Tufted Capuchin with a B.A. from a good state school.

  • Josef_T

    That funny thing looks so good, but the screen is for me a bit too small, one inch more would be OK.

  • Name

    Looks like an updated version of the Zaurus

  • John Morris

    Lots of bezel that would be better used as display. A Nokia tablet with 800×480 on a 5″ screen is a the edge of readable, upping to 1024×600 just might be too much. But if they made it fill the available area it would be good.

    That and the price really needs to drop a bit, but if they ship in the USA it almost certainly will, most things do.

    And note that battery life number. No extra fat battery hanging off the arse end of the thing and it gets 10 hours. That is what ARM buys you in exchange for x86 compatibility.

  • BoloMKXXVIII

    I think you miss the point of this thing. You are not supposed to write term papers on it. You might even have to use it as a thumb board like they do with cell phones. Who cares? Import all your bookmarks from your netbook, load a couple of movies, some music or some ebooks and you have a great multi-use device that is actually small enough to have with you all the time.

  • http://listeningtoreason.com wanorris

    Unless there's one I'm not aware of, the Nokias are in the 3.5″-4″ range, aren't they?

    But overall I think I like the idea of something like the forthcoming Nokia N900 or the HTC Touch Pro 2 a little better than this. The slide-out keyboard seems like a win over a clamshell when you get this small.

  • lindsayfromNZ

    Personally I think this kind of thing is really on the right track. I like netbooks but I long for something that I can get netbook functionality with that fits in a a large pocket. Folk who always complain about cramped keyboards etc miss the point although I agree that the screen would be much more useful a little bigger.

    This fills the niche between smartphone and netbook and I think we will see more of these type of hyperportable (oohh a new term) MID devices coming out over the next 12-18 months.

    I take one as a complimentary device to my netbook/laptop.

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  • Kevin Martin

    I've got my hands on one. First look:
    http://tiltwarning.com/blog/?p=331

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  • Bought one

    Sadly you URL does not work, anyhow, I also bought one. And it should be shipping as we speak.

    Abit to small amount of memory and SSD. But SSD expandable using memorycard to 16Gb. That's what I have in my ASUS EEE today. So I'm a happy camper.

  • englishspanish

    Perfect! Now all I need to do is shrink my hands and eyes so that the 5″ screen seems more like 10″, and the keyboard feels like a normal size.
    English to Spanish translators.

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  • http://pupnik.de/ pupnik

    Some questions remain:
    1) No user serviceable battery – what do I do when battery dies?
    2) Unknown battery life
    3) What parts of the operating system are closed?
    4) What libraries are provided? Can a community extend the OS?
    5) Is the OS customized for small display? Touchscreen operation?

    The keyboard is potentially usable for touch typing. Compare to the psion netbook and psion 5mx – both serviceable for 10 finger typing – much faster than thumbboards on cell phones.

    The screen is very nice resolution for web browsing but as others have said, unfortunate that it doesnt cover available space.

  • http://pupnik.de/ pupnik

    Some questions remain:
    1) No user serviceable battery – what do I do when battery dies?
    2) Unknown battery life
    3) What parts of the operating system are closed?
    4) What libraries are provided? Can a community extend the OS?
    5) Is the OS customized for small display? Touchscreen operation?

    The keyboard is potentially usable for touch typing. Compare to the psion netbook and psion 5mx – both serviceable for 10 finger typing – much faster than thumbboards on cell phones.

    The screen is very nice resolution for web browsing but as others have said, unfortunate that it doesnt cover available space.

  • darion76

    Here is non official new kernel 2.6.31 port for Sharp Netwalker PC-Z1
    https://github.com/darion76/linux-sharp-netwalker-2.6.31/