A couple of Sharp Netwalker gadgets arrived to our office yesterday courtesy of Sharp. The Sharp Netwalker seemed to be one of those gadgets that are released in Japan but mysteriously are never released outside of the country, like for example the Sharp Zaurus or the W-Zero3. But this time, after some months on sale in Japan, Sharp has decided to release the Netwalker in United States, and probably in the future in other countries.
The Sharp Netwalker can’t be classified as a netbook, nor as a smarthpone, nor as a PDA… according to wikipedia it is a Smartbook. But what it is is not important, the important is what the device actually does. Some of the things that grab your attention are that it comes bundled with Ubuntu, Firefox and Thunderbird by default, it has a 5″ 1,024X600 screen, it only weights 400 grams, it has 512 Mb of RAM and the batteries last for more than 12 hours. It seems like the perfect mobile gadget, light, small and with long lasting batteries. Moreover it is commercialized with a 7.2 Mbps HSDPA flat rate connection by E-mobile for 35 euros per month.
When using the Sharp Netwalker, being that small, makes you feel like you are using a traditional PDA, but because you are using Ubuntu, a command line is available, etc. you also feel like you’re using a “real” computer. However, it reminds me the most of the Sharp Zaurus, that was also bundled with Linux by default. In fact the design is somewhere in the middle between an old Sharp Zaurus PDA (which is not on sale anymore) and the popular electronic dictionaries Sharp Papyrus.
It is like having a netbook running on Ubuntu but with a 50% size reduction; which make it easy to fit in a jacket pocket, which would be impossible with a netbook. However, the main inconvenient of this kind of devices is that the keyboard is really uncomfortable!
The way of controlling the mouse pointer is quite original but it takes time to get used to it.