Willcom D4 (Sharp WS016SH) MID headed to Japan in June

Willcom_d4_mid

Looking nothing like it did as a prototype under glass, the Sharp-built Willcom MID made an earlier-than-expected official debut in Japan today. Dubbed the Willcom D4 and/or Sharp WS016SH, the 7.4" x 3.3" x 1.0" clamshell will be running Vista Home Premium (does this make it a UMPC?) on a 1.33GHz Atom processor, 1GB of RAM, and 40GB hard drive when those living in my home country (don’t let my married name fool you) are able to pick one up this summer in exchange for 128,600 yen.

Even though a US release seems unlikely, the cost will be much lower when subsidized by a two-year contract with Willcom, and straight conversions are never accurate, that much yen is still equivalent to about $1280.

Willcom_d4_inhand

Willcom_d4_slide

I know a frequent commenter who should be beside himself at the size of the 64-key QWERTY keyboard (do the words "touch-type" and "fit in a jacket pocket" sound familiar?) and a few other fellows who are sure to be pleased by the prospect of surfing the web using the preloaded Opera browser on the D4’s slide-and-tilt 5-inch touchscreen (1024 x 600).

Is this your definition of the "perfect" MID?

[Engadget | jkkmobile | Akihabara News (enormous gallery)]
Pocketables does not accept targeted advertising, phony guest posts, paid reviews, etc. Help us keep this way with support on Patreon!
become a patron button - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here

Jenn K. Lee

Jenn K. Lee is the founder of Pocketables. She loves gadgets the way most women love shoes and purses. The pieces in her tech wardrobe that go with everything are currently the Samsung Galaxy Note II, Sony Tablet P, and Nexus 7, but there are still a couple of vintage UMPCs/MIDs in the back of her closet.

More posts by Jenn | Subscribe to Jenn's posts

Avatar of Jenn K. Lee

11 thoughts on “Willcom D4 (Sharp WS016SH) MID headed to Japan in June

  • Avatar of Frank
    April 14, 2008 at 4:04 am
    Permalink

    Thinner is always better, but the form factor is very nearly perfect. That said, this device wastes too much real estate. Both the keyboard and the screen should be full width. Otherwise, the keyboard is very good, although with a few more triple-function keys (plain/shift/function) they could have eliminated most of the bottom row to make the remaining keys larger.

    Nevertheless, this is the best form factor I’ve seen in years.

    Great form factor, but why Vista? XP would be better, and Windows Mobile would quadruple the battery life and make it truly portable.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Bruno
    April 14, 2008 at 8:29 am
    Permalink

    Not bad, but that high a resolution on that small a screen results in stuff being just too small for me. It also means that you have to use stylus as using your finger on a screen this size results in pressing about quarter of a screen :-) And if I have to use a stylus, I would much rather have an active digitizer and ink.
    I am more and more convinced that anything below 7″ screen needs to run a different OS. I am waiting for the day when the same software can be run on different devices and the UI automatically changes based on the OS edition…. fully skinnable, UI-agnostic software, that is the dream!

    Reply
  • Avatar of Al
    April 14, 2008 at 8:55 am
    Permalink

    Yep, that is a UMPC that I would buy right now! I agree completely with Frank! The keyboard could have been better designed as the Psion and HP Jornada did but to me I am not going to be pickey if I could buy one. Sharp during the handheld era always had keyboards with wasted space compared to others so I am not surpirsed, but rather glad they are the first to design a clamshell UMPC.

    So is there any way to purchase one in the US? maybe an unlocked version so that it might be used on one of the US wireless carriers?

    Reply
  • Avatar of Kenrick
    April 14, 2008 at 1:32 pm
    Permalink

    You will probably be able to buy one through Dynamism. Time for Jenn to cancel the HTC Shift order and get one of these instead :-)

    Reply
  • Avatar of Art
    April 14, 2008 at 6:34 pm
    Permalink

    This seems like the perfect computer for sales representatives like me on the go whom just hate to carry a laptop all of the time. The phone features I assume is specialized for the Japanese cell phone network? or will it work outside of Japan?

    If the wifi works anywhere, that would be good enough for me to buy one. I have really been hoping for a UMPC that would finally have a regular keyboard not one of those terrible thumb input keyboards.

    So I guess I should keep looking here for news as to third party resellers selling them for users in the US and Europe?

    Reply
  • Avatar of Jenn
    April 14, 2008 at 7:12 pm
    Permalink

    Would it be available for import? I vaguely remember an importer telling me that the Japan-only Sharp EM ONE couldn’t be sold in the US (I was trying to secure a review unit), but I can’t recall why. If my memory isn’t playing tricks on me, then I would think the D4 wouldn’t be operable in the states either. But I’d gladly be proven wrong. I’m not enamored with the D4, but I wouldn’t turn away the delivery man if he had one for me!

    Reply
  • Avatar of Al
    April 15, 2008 at 8:08 am
    Permalink

    I believe Dynamism and Conics.net will be selling the D4 and I believe they can/will? install it with US version of the OS if needed? I checked with Conics.net and they confirmed they should be selling them. They confirmed that the blue tooth and wifi will work as they are standard but the cell features are specific to the Japanese market and will not work outside of Japan.

    Bruno, I think if Sharp or another OEM makes a similar form factor like the D4 and had the length of the screen closer to the actual length of the computer (6.9-7.4″) the screen would then display 1/2 vga in a clear enough view to use easily. I know my experience with the HP 720 and the Psion was no problem.

    I do not like this D4 screen being so small as their is clearly room for a larger screen but with waiting this long for anything close to a usable UMPC and not being a toy; I am not going to be as critical until more similar devices come out?

    Reply
  • Avatar of Bruno
    April 16, 2008 at 11:57 am
    Permalink

    Al: I agree, there seems to be a lot of wasted space around the screen in iMate Jasjar-like kind of way. If Sharp stretched the screen I might actually go for it!
    I am looking forward to reviews of this unit once it is out, how usable the keyboard and screen is.
    By the way, what was the screen resolution on Jornada?

    Reply
  • Avatar of Al
    April 17, 2008 at 6:59 am
    Permalink

    Bruno,
    I think the reason for the wasted screen real estate is that they use the space for the left/right & up/down scroll features? To me since it is a touch type screen, I would rather have the large full 7″ long screen and just use a stylus or finger instead.

    I would go for this a lot more than the Jasjar or its equivalent in the US as it is purely a thumb input device. I think when you make a combo phone/computer the emphasis should be on the computers functionality. To me it still seems like the only UMPC thus far worth spending money on. I would hope that Sharp makes a similar device for standard Europe/USA GSM networks? That way we would have all the same benefits of the Willcom and likely have the cell phone company partly subsidize the cost in yearly or multi-yearly cell contracts.

    Reply
  • Avatar of scoobie
    April 17, 2008 at 8:18 am
    Permalink

    I think the reason is if they used a wider screen than 5 inches, the device would have to have more depth. A 7 inch screen, as well as being wider is also taller. The Psion metaphor does not work completely when discussing the screen as the Psion had a bespoke wide but narrow screen, which you don’t get on PC devices. A 7 inch screen and a 5 inch have the same width to height ratio I believe.

    I think there is little chance Sharp releasing this in Europe. I suspect Willcomm have some of the design rights anyway, and they dont operate here.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Al
    April 18, 2008 at 8:12 am
    Permalink

    Scoobie, why would it not be possible to provide a wide 7″ screen that is narrow 3.3″? The Psion and all the handhelds in the HPC era were typically 6.9″ to 7.3″ in length and 3.4-3.7″ in depth. That provided half VGA display so that any word, etc file would look the same as my PC but I just needed to scroll down to see the rest. Do you mean that for some reason Vista does not allow 1/2 VGA display?

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.