Sharp Shows Slim, Trim Notebook

The first notebook available in the United States with Transmeta's new Efficeon processor will be announced by Sharp Systems of America on Monday.

The new Actius MM20 is an improved version of the MM10, says Terry Hanly, product marketing manager for Sharp Systems, a division of Sharp Electronics.

The MM10 used Transmeta's older Crusoe processor, which was praised for its miserly power consumption but panned for its performance.

The new Efficeon TM8600 is designed to improve performance while maintaining the low power consumption required by ultraportable notebooks--such as the 2-pound MM20. Sharp's tests showed that Efficeon delivers about 1.4 times the performance of Crusoe, Hanly says.

Sharp also improved performance in the MM20 by adding PC2100 (266-MHz) DDR SDRAM. The notebook now comes with 512MB of memory, up from 256MB in the older MM10.

The notebook's standard battery will last three hours under normal conditions. An extended battery will add six more hours of computing time and 0.6 pounds, Hanly says.

Portable PC

A base configuration of the notebook includes the 1-GHz Efficeon processor, 512MB of memory, a 20GB hard drive, and a 10.4-inch display for an estimated starting price of $1499. Sharp will take preorders for the notebook as of Monday, and it will ship in April.

The MM20 is designed as a second notebook for corporate executives or frequent business travelers that prefer something lightweight when traveling, Hanly says.

Sharp will include a base station and cable with the MM20 that allows users to connect the notebook to their regular PC through a USB port and use the notebook as an external hard drive.

Specially configured software from Iomega allows users to make changes to documents on their regular PC that will be automatically synchronized with the MM20. Conversely, if a user makes changes to a document on the road, the updated version of that document will automatically replace the older version on the regular PC when the units are connected, Hanly says.

A version of this notebook has been available in Japan, Hanly says. She does not know if a version will ship in Europe.

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