Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sharp unleashes Ubuntu-based Netbook

Lest you think that Netbooks are dead, Sharp is out with the PC-Z1, released under the "NetWalker" brand in Japan.

Running an Ubuntu Linux derivative, several sites have compared the PC-Z1 to the fabled Sharp Zaurus.

Ubuntu is a logical choice for Netbooks and other low-cost consumer devices. Besides being highly customizable, the open-source aspect really helps. Companies can tweak the operating system to meet their needs without having to be burdened with licensing fees. But having owned a 7" Asus Eee PC for more than a year, I can safely opine that Netbooks are not all they are cracked up to be. Between the challenging keyboard and questionable battery life, their utility varies between models and user styles.

Gizmodo doesn't think that this is a Netbook, but at this point, the whole category is so confusing, I can't figure what you're supposed to call it. (An extra batch of pictures of the PC-Z1 is available at Akihabara News.)

Odds are, you are better off with a smartphone, unless you really love this form factor or have very tiny hands for the very tiny keyboard. I find it hard to imagine people lugging these around as their main machine. Nonetheless, Sharp has raised the bar with better boot time and a claimed a 10-hour battery life. According to its release Thursday:

The PC-Z1 features a quick-launch function (approx. 3 seconds) similar to mobile phones, enabling users to conveniently check e-mail while on the road. Also, a long battery running time (approximately 10 hours) allows users to fully enjoy net services, such as videos or blogs.

The high-resolution, 5-inch touch-screen LCD enables intuitive touch operation while the full keyboard provides for comfortable text input. Additionally, in business settings, users can create documents, spreadsheets, presentation materials, etc., and edit them stress-free.

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