capsule review

Sharp Actius AL27

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Sharp Actius AL27 Notebook

Sharp Actius AL27
Artwork: Rick Rizner, John Goddard

Elvis's jumpsuit. The White Album. Arctic hares. They all come to mind when looking at the Sharp Actius AL27, a laptop that sports an exterior in a blinding glossy-white rarely seen in nature--or in an office. Feature-wise, the AL27 is fairly run of the mill. A fixed multiformat DVD burner with a prominent eject button sits just around the right corner, and four USB ports are conveniently distributed on the left side of the case and on the rear. A VGA port for connecting a standard monitor sits beneath a plastic door on the left, but the notebook has no TV-out connection. The front sports four connections--an unusual convenience for a laptop--including not only microphone and headphone jacks but also a FireWire port. The fourth front port is a mini-USB jack, the AL27's most unusual feature. Using a bundled USB adapter cable to connect to another PC lets the AL27 serve as a 60GB plug-and-play USB hard drive that automatically appears in the host system's Windows Explorer window. Unlike the Sharp Actius MC22, however, which we reviewed last year, the AL27 does not come with any syncing software, so you're on your own in keeping track of the files moved between systems. And at 6.5 pounds, the AL27 is a heavy way to add extra storage.

Upgrading the AL27 is relatively easy. Both the hard drive and one of the memory slots (the other is not user accessible) are located in the same large bottom compartment covered by a panel that's held in by four small screws. Removing the battery, on the other hand, is a pain, owing to two separate bottom releases, both of which have to be held open while you tug the battery out. The AL27's white keyboard is nicely laid out and easy to read, thanks to dark lettering. However, the slight ergonomic curve takes a little getting used to, and we missed having quick-launch buttons and a page-scrolling button, two common keyboard extras the AL27 lacks. The built-in sound is fairly loud but of mediocre quality.

We were least impressed with the AL27's performance. The unit, which has a 1.6-GHz Low-Power Mobile Athlon 64 2700+ processor, lasted just 1.8 hours in our battery tests, a far shorter time than our 3-hour average. On the performance bench, it pulled down a WorldBench 5 score of 68, about 9 percent behind two 1.6-GHz Pentium M laptops we tested. (We've tested no other laptops containing the 1.6-GHz Low-Power Mobile Athlon 64 2700+ processor to compare it to.)

Its striking white case and ability to act as a USB hard drive to other PCs gives the Actius AL27 some unique talking points. However, its sluggish performance and battery life make it a poor on-the-road machine.

Sharp Actius AL27


WorldBench 5 score of 68, 1.6-GHz Low-Power Mobile Athlon 64 2700+ processor, 512MB of DDR333 SDRAM, Windows XP Professional, 15-inch screen, 60GB hard drive, DVD±RW drive, VIA PM800 graphics using main memory, built-in V.92 modem and 10/100 ethernet, 802.11g wireless, touchpad pointing device, 7.7-pound weight (including AC adapter and phone cord). One-year parts and labor warranty, 24-hour daily toll-free support.
$1599
800/237-4277
www.sharpsystems.com

Carla Thornton

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At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Sharp Actius AL27 Notebook

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