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Sharp Actius MM10 (Crusoe TM5800 1 GHz review: Sharp Actius MM10 (Crusoe TM5800 1 GHz

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MSRP: $1,499.00
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The Good Extremely light; convenient battery recharging via included docking cradle; built-in 802.11b wireless.

The Bad Short battery life; no port replicator available; cramped keyboard; small screen; memory maxes out at 256MB.

The Bottom Line The Actius MM10 ultralight has plenty of form but not enough function for travelers who need to log many hours of work.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.1 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7
  • Battery 6
  • Support 7

Review Sections

Review summary

The Sharp Actius MM10 suffers from an identity crisis. On the one hand, the 2.1-pound system displays ultralight laptop characteristics such as a 1GHz Transmeta Crusoe processor, 256MB of DDR memory, a 15GB hard drive, and the Windows XP operating system. But like a handheld, it comes with a docking cradle that lets you charge its battery and sync files with another PC. While the overall effect is indisputably cool, the Actius MM10's teeny keyboard, small 10.4-inch screen, and limited 137-minute battery life are hardly practical for anyone who needs to do even one iota of work on the road. Consider this system only if you have $1,500 to spend on an extra gadget. Otherwise, go for a slightly heavier, yet more functional ultralight such as the Sharp Actius UM series.

/sc/21116465-2-200-DT2.gif" width="200" height="150" border="0" />

The special docking cradle recharges the system battery and lets you sync files, PDA-style, with another PC.
The Sharp Actius MM10 looks unlike any ultralight we've seen. The 2.1-pound system (2.6 pounds with the tiny AC adapter) is exceptionally small, measuring 9.9 inches wide by 8.2 inches deep. The case is just 0.5 inches thick in front and 0.8 inches in back, allowing for a menagerie of ports toward the back of both edges. The Sharp stays this thin by excluding internal secondary storage drives. An external DVD/CD-RW drive is included with the system.

One of the Actius MM10's ports--the cradle connector--lets you flip the laptop on its left edge and set it inside the included docking cradle. The cradle performs two cool functions: it recharges your battery and lets you sync files, PDA-style, with another PC running Windows XP, 2000, or Me. First, you must install the included SharpSync software on the host PC. You can then swap files between the two simply by dragging and dropping. The whole setup is convenient, although the Actius MM10 could stand to sit a bit more sturdily in the docking cradle.

In addition to the cradle connector, the Actius MM10 offers just a few ports and slots. The back edge features a proprietary VGA port that makes you attach the included dongle before you can connect to a standard VGA receptor. An audio-out jack and one USB 2.0 port are on the left edge, while another USB 2.0 port, an Ethernet jack, and one Type II PC Card slot are on the right edge. If you need a modem, you'll have to install the 56Kbps PC Card that Sharp includes with the system. Oddly enough, Sharp doesn't offer a port replicator with the Actius MM10, which is especially surprising given the system's very short list of built-in ports.


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A smallish touchpad and two mouse buttons sit below the keyboard.

/sc/21116465-2-200-DT4.gif" width="200" height="150" border="0" />
Everything is small on this tiny laptop, including the cramped keyboard.


Like its assortment of ports, the Actius MM10's screen and keyboard are inhibited by the lack of case space. The 10.4-inch screen carries an odd 1,024x768 native resolution, which results in tiny text on such a small screen. The cramped keyboard sits above a smallish touchpad and two mouse buttons. Sharp relegates the single, dime-sized speaker to the bottom of the laptop. The Sharp Actius MM10 follows suit with most ultralights by offering little flexibility in terms of components; none of the system's internal parts are negotiable. Each Actius MM10 comes with a 1GHz Transmeta Crusoe TM5800 processor, 256MB of DDR SDRAM, and a 15GB hard drive. It also comes standard with a Silicon Motion Lynx 3DM graphics chip with 8MB of dedicated video memory and up to an additional 24MB borrowed from main RAM. The sole 10.4-inch display offers a 1,024x768 native resolution that makes text too tiny on a screen this small. Because laptops in this category are too space constrained to offer smoking-hot CPUs and other cutting-edge parts, these generally midrange specs make sense. However, Sharp should at least let users upgrade the main memory.

/sc/21116465-2-300-SS1.gif" width="300" height="225" border="0" />

Sharp's Network Setup Utility is one of the few programs included with the MM10.


The integrated 802.11b wireless mini-PCI card provides the one bright spot in this otherwise mundane spec selection. Sure, it's not the newer, faster 802.11g, but most notebooks are just now getting around to adding 802.11b.

Windows XP Home comes preloaded on every Actius MM10. The system is entirely bereft of additional software, however, save for Sharp's Network Setup Utility and the SharpSync software needed to link the Actius MM10 to a host PC. Transmeta Crusoe-based systems have never been known to be fast performers in our tests, and the Sharp Actius MM10 is no different. The system came in last place in our small roundup of ultraportables, which included two Intel Pentium III-M notebooks. Some of the Actius MM10's lackluster performance can be attributed to its Silicon Motion Lynx 3DM 8MB graphics controller, which borrows as much as 24MB of system memory. In our experience, this type of architecture has proven to be a detriment to performance.

Mobile application performance  (Longer bars indicate faster performance)
BAPCo MobileMark2002 performance rating  
Panasonic ToughBook T1
97 
Sony VAIO PCG-SRX99
86 
Sharp Actius MM10
62 
 
To measure mobile application performance and battery life, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's MobileMark2002. MobileMark measures both application performance and battery life concurrently using a number of popular applications (Microsoft Word 2002, Microsoft Excel 2002, Microsoft PowerPoint 2002, Microsoft Outlook 2002, Netscape Communicator 6.0, WinZip Computing WinZip 8.0, McAfee VirusScan 5.13, Adobe Photoshop 6.0.1, and Macromedia Flash 5.0).

Find out more about how we test notebooks.


System configurations:

Panasonic ToughBook T1
Windows XP Professional; 866MHz Intel Pentium III-M; 248MB SDRAM 133MHz; Intel 82830M graphics controller up to 48MB shared; Toshiba MK4020GLS 40GB 4,200rpm

Sharp Actius MM10
Windows XP Home; 1GHz Transmeta Crusoe TM5800; 232MB SDRAM 133MHz; Silicon Motion Lynx 3DM 8MB (24MB shared); Toshiba MK1503GAL 15GB 4,200rpm

Sony VAIO PCG-SRX99
Windows XP Home; 850MHz Intel Pentium III-M; 256MB SDRAM 133MHz; Intel 82815 graphics controller 4MB; Toshiba MK2018GAS 20GB 4,200rpm We've come to expect great battery-life scores from Transmeta Crusoe-based systems. However, the Sharp Actius MM10's 11.1V, 1,800mAh battery hampered its performance, and the system lasted just more than 2 hours. The comparison systems in our roundup, on the other hand, house more powerful batteries and lasted more than 3 hours, 30 minutes. In the end, we found the Actius MM10's battery life disappointing, especially for such a small machine.

Battery life  (Longer bars indicate longer battery life)
BAPCo MobileMark2002 battery life minutes  
Sony VAIO PCG-SRX99
218 
Panasonic ToughBook T1
212 
Sharp Actius MM10
137 
 
To measure mobile application performance and battery life, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's MobileMark2002. MobileMark measures both application performance and battery life concurrently using a number of popular applications (Microsoft Word 2002, Microsoft Excel 2002, Microsoft PowerPoint 2002, Microsoft Outlook 2002, Netscape Communicator 6.0, WinZip Computing WinZip 8.0, McAfee VirusScan 5.13, Adobe Photoshop 6.0.1, and Macromedia Flash 5.0).

Find out more about how we test notebooks.


System configurations:

Panasonic ToughBook T1
Windows XP Professional; 866MHz Intel Pentium III-M; 248MB SDRAM 133MHz; Intel 82830M graphics controller up to 48MB shared; Toshiba MK4020GLS 40GB 4,200rpm

Sharp Actius MM10
Windows XP Home; 1GHz Transmeta Crusoe TM5800; 232MB SDRAM 133MHz; Silicon Motion Lynx 3DM 8MB (24MB shared); Toshiba MK1503GAL 15GB 4,200rpm

Sony VAIO PCG-SRX99
Windows XP Home; 850MHz Intel Pentium III-M; 256MB SDRAM 133MHz; Intel 82815 graphics controller 4MB; Toshiba MK2018GAS 20GB 4,200rpm The Actius MM10's warranty offers few surprises. It includes the same one-year parts-and-labor warranty that most laptops offer. During this period, you must return your notebook to a Sharp authorized repair center (call 800/237-4277 to find the one closest to you), and service reps will fix it for free. Two additional years of return-to-depot service cost $199; however, Sharp doesn't provide handy onsite service with any of its warranty plans. Toll-free, 24/7 telephone support is available for the length of your service term.

The company's support Web site could use some work. Six of the mere seven FAQs for the Actius MM10 deal with the SharpSync software that ships with the system. The site also omits important self-help features, such as user forums and the ability to chat in real time with a Sharp tech-support rep. If you want to contact a rep electronically, you'll have to send old-fashioned e-mail.

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