Named after a legendary Japanese swordsmith, the PC-UM10 Muramasa from Sharp is one of the thinnest notebooks currently available, and has been designed to compete with Sony’s Vaio range. Its brushed aluminium surfaces and magnesium alloy chassis, together with its weight of only 1.3kg, give it a stylish look and feel.
To get to such a thin design – the PC-UM10 is just 20mm thick at its thickest point – a lot of connectivity has had to be sacrificed. There are no built-in Bluetooth wireless, infrared or serial ports but you do get an integrated LAN and a modem port. To aid in its thin design the keyboard has been engineered so that it rises out of the system body when the lid is opened, but this does affect the feel of the keyboard in use; it’s a little vague at times.
Powered by a 600MHz ultra-low-voltage Mobile Pentium III processor, dropping to 300MHz on battery power under SpeedStep power management, the PC-UM10 comes with 128MB of memory, which unfortunately cannot be upgraded. When running at 300MHz the PC-UM10 gives a respectable tested battery life of just under three hours, despite the relatively small size of the standard battery pack. A larger battery pack, capable of holding three times as much charge, is also available.
Storage is provided by a Hitachi 20GB hard disk, while the graphics are powered by a 4MB ATI Rage Mobility-M PCI chipset, which drives the 12.1-inch TFT display giving a maximum resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels with 32-bit colour depth. This display gives good contrast thanks to it’s ‘black panel’ design.
Because the PC-UM10 is legacy-free due to its thinness, the floppy and CD-ROM drives are optional units costing £71 + VAT and £153 + VAT respectively. There is an optional docking bar available that adds serial and parallel ports, a VGA port and two USB ports for an additional £94 + VAT. One other slot that is missing is a Kensington lock slot for security.
Ports that are provided include one USB port, microphone and earphone sockets and a single Type II PC Card slot. Sharp says that it was too early to integrate Bluetooth capability into the PC-UM10, but that this would appear in later versions of the notebook.
The only features on the system body besides the keyboard and the Trackpad are the on/off button and the system LEDs, which gives the notebook a clean and uncluttered feel. The underside of the system features a hard reset switch. Our review model came with Windows 2000 with service pack 2 pre-installed but no software bundle was pre-loaded.
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