Sharp’s press conference has just finished at CES 2013 and within it was one of the important technologies of 2013 when it comes to mobile devices and power consumption. IGZO.
As CPU, GPU and comms power requirements fall, the screen becomes a very big, power-hungry issue. IGZO screen technology could really help extend in-use battery life and that’s why we’re watching it closely.
The power used by a screen in a laptop is becoming a major issue. As other components in laptops reduce their power, the percentage of total system power used by the screen and backlight is growing. 20-30% average is common but if you’re just reading a static page, the backlight could account for up to 50%. Come Haswell, that could jump to 70% or more in quiet-state operations. Advances in battery technology aren’t forthcoming so anything to get rid of those LED backlights is going to be worth taking a close look at. IGZO (Indium, Gallium, Zinc Oxide) technology could be one of the few answers.
While smartphone fans might not be over-interested in this relatively bulky bit of kit, if you look at it from the MID angle (which is where it’s positioned) the story is very different and the Sharp IS01 is ticking a lot of boxes as we go through the specifications.
The Sharp IS01 is a cross between an Archos 5 tablet and a UMID BZ ultra mobile PC and that could really hit the mark by offering long battery life, a fun operating system build and the components needed for more productivity than on the average phone. A 5 inch screen, Snapdragon processor, Wifi, BT, 3G and a 5-row keyboard, 5MP camera, GPS, trackball and, importantly, a full set of Google Android Apps (yes, the marketplace appears to be there) in a 227g package is going to give the upcoming Viliv N5, a Windows-based 5 inch clamshell a run for it’s money although at present, that money element is an unknown. It’s also targeted at the Japanese carrier KDDI which, combined with Sharps history of Asia-only products, doesn’t bode well for European and US markets. We’ll be looking for imports though.
The IS01 is due for release in October but a developer version, the JN-DK01 should be available in the summer.
For the first time ever it’s an ARM-only show featuring Cortex CPUs from Freescale and Texas Instruments. The Sharp Netwalker will be there and, if Mr DHL does his job, the Archos Internet Tablet (Android version) too.
We’ll be focusing on the Mobile Internet experience as usual but we’ll be giving a hardware overview, software overview (as much as we can given that these devices are brand new on the market) and trying to answer your questions.
The Sharp Netwalker is kindly provided to JKKmobile by Conics.net. The Archos Android Internet Tablet is kindly provided by you readers. (Please keep supporting our advertisers!) The session is unsponsored so bring beer and expect a no-holds-barred session.
If its not one thing, its the other. The long old story of potential deal-breakers continues.
UMID M1 â€“ Screen angle + USB dongles.
HTC Shift â€“ Battery life + screen res.
Viliv S7 â€“ Colour
and now, wobbly keys on the Sharp Netwalker which, given the importance of keys, is quite the problem. â€œThe keyboard (14mm pitch, 0.8mm stroke) so far is a mixed bag for meâ€¦ inch says Jenn. â€œI’m not liking the keyboard at all.. key caps bend to all directions. inch says JKK.
On the positive side, build quality gets a thumbs up along with the optical mouse, battery life and screen angle but performance is again, a bit wobbly. Standby, application start-up times and browsing speeds appear to be varying between acceptable and poor.
For a two-handed thumb-style mobile device, the Netwalker may have missed the mark. The Ubuntu UI is unrefined, the keyboard caps not ideal for thumbing and the processing power slightly less than is needed for a smooth experience. There isn’t even any Bluetooth.
At well over $500, the Netwalker is going to have problems competing with the UMID M2 that is said to be launching at $499. Even with 512MB of RAM and Windows XP it will fly compared to this device. Battery life will be much less (at around 4hrs) and the looks and build quality may be slightly less than you’ll find on the Netwalker but for me, the UMID M2 (due to launch in Q4) still has the edge.
The UMID Mbook (#11 in the charts today) represents one of the smallest most efficient PC’s in the world. The Netwalker (#8 in the charts today) represents one of the most powerful ARM-based devices in the world. Both platforms are capable of running desktop operating systems and being designed into a handheld form factor. This comparison photo proves that.
The image comes from a side-by-side photo set and review that appears on PC Watch. It’s actually the new Kohjinsha PM on the right but it’s the same device as the UMID. Check out more images and thoughts on their site. [translation] (Via JKK)
The question is, how does XP on the UMID compare to Ubuntu (ARM version) on the Netwalker? PC Watch focuses on the UMID in their article but stay tuned because JKK should be getting a Netwalker very soon so he’ll be able to answer that question.
I suspect that the differences between the platforms will become very clear when using Firefox which is available on both systems. On the Netwalker you’ll be waiting 50% longer for page loads and wondering why flash doesn’t work everywhere. On the UMID you’ll be happy that the browser is quick because you’ll get less runtime when using it. The classic ARM vs X86 trade-off.
Jenn, now a Willcom D4 owner as well as an SC3 owner, has her first impressions up. As expected, the battery life isn’t good at all with the tiny standard battery returning 1.5 hours of use. Its efficient of course, but that’s not really enough is it. I really don’t understand how any OEM could convince themselves that it’s acceptable to expect people to buy a second battery.
Apart from that, the device seems to be performing well enough with Vista on the 1.33Ghz CPU.
The Willcom D4 never felt right to me from the word go and this review doesn’t change my opinion.
D.F.J – Direct From Japan, an exporter of mobile solutions direct from the Akihabara district have a Willcom D4, one of the neatest ultra mobile PC solutions we’ve seen yet. I’ve been in touch with DJF today and they’ve been kind enough to send over some first-opinions about the device. Before you read through them though, let me highlight one very important figure. Last week it was reported that the D4 was returning just 1.5 hours on the standard battery (7wh) DFJ report that this is under WWAN conditions. Running without WWAN and Wifi is a different story. We’re working on getting some better battery life reports out soon so don’t give up on the D4 just yet. Continued after the pic…
Once again, we sadly have to report that OEMs are trying to squeeze Vista on low-end UMPCs. I’m also hearing that ‘unoptimised drivers’ excuse again… [Deep breath…Gooosefrababa]
Akihabara have done some testing on a Willcom D4 1.3Ghz Atom-based ultra mobile PC which they say has a "Beautiful design, ergonomic, a well thought out keyboard, multiple positions, touchscreen…"
The device appears quite large in comparison to say the Gigabyte M528 MID and reminds me of the Raon Digital Everun which isn’t a bad thing because I’d be extremely happy with an Everun that used this design and ran Windows XP. Vista, however, is just going to end up embarrassing Sharp and Intel as it appears to do in the video that Akihabara have produced.