8 Willcom D4 (Sharp WS016SH) shortcomings


The Atom-based Willcom D4 I continue to obsess over as I wait for it to arrive shipped about 12 hours ago from Tokyo. While I committed the tracking number to memory, Pocketables Forum member MikeN found an article over at Tech-On that includes a quick list of the UMPC’s shortcomings.

I’ve paraphrased the list and added my comments on each finding below.

Poor battery life. I’ve already come to terms with the 1.5-hour standard battery life (whether the figure is in fact only relevant to WWAN usage is still unclear), but Tech-On’s actual usage of just 1 hour is appalling. The extended battery, with its estimated runtime of 4.5 hours, is being included free (even for me!) during the launch promotion period and will begin shipping in August. This will give me some time to test the standard battery under various operating conditions to find out what it’s really capable of before presumably ditching it forever in favor of the high-capacity one. More on this as it develops.

When not locked, accidental screen interaction easily awakens the device. This, to me, isn’t a shortcoming. Accidental operation would only be an issue if there wasn’t a locking mechanism on the unit. But there is.

Fingerprint magnet. That the highly glossy surface of the D4 clings onto and displays fingerprints and other smudges like works of art should not surprise anyone. It’s unsightly and annoying, to be sure, but it’s just the way most glossy materials work. MP3 players are often the most susceptible, but UMPCs aren’t immune (look at the Samsung Q1 series, for example).

Fan noise is louder than expected. This needs to be qualified a bit more, as it isn’t clear what the author’s expectations were or how loud the fan gets. Does it sound like a small airplane in a quiet room? Or is it just not dead silent?

Wearing a "standard-length strap" makes the D4 unusable. I have no idea what this means. The original statement is "You can’t operate the D4 while wearing one of the standard-length straps available on the market." I don’t know what kind of strap is being referred to here. A shoulder strap of some kind? I don’t think the D4 is meant to be worn.

Location of mouse buttons not optimal while using keyboard. This is a common UMPC problem without an easy solution. Duplicate controls (one set to enable full use in slate/tablet mode and one set for mini laptop mode) would address the issue but clutter the hardware. What I do with my HTC Shift, whose controls are similar to those on the D4 (i.e., no trackpad or mouse buttons on keyboard), is to combine use of the keyboard with the touchscreen.

Optional Bluetooth handset is needed to quickly answer incoming calls. I won’t ever know if this is true because the D4’s cellular capabilities only work in Japan.

Overheating. Rats. I’ll measure the temperature on various parts of the unit to put the author’s "so hot" assessment into some context, but it doesn’t sound promising.

So what do you think? Do you see any absolute deal killers here?

Thanks, MikeN!

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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.

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