by Neama, Ohio USA
I recently had the opportunity to review the latest business style notebook offered by Sharp Systems, the M4000. Sharp is probably better known for developing innovative electronics such as TV’s and LCD than notebooks. I am familiar with many of their products, but this is the first time I’ve had a chance to test a notebook by Sharp. The new M4000 is listed as an ultraportable laptop aimed mainly for the business population. This laptop is lightweight and highly mobile and offers some unique features, especially in regards to power management. Following is a review of a test model I received from Sharp.
Sharp M4000 13.3″ Screen Portable Notebook (view larger image)
The configuration of the M4000 review model is as follows:
- Pentium M 740 (1.73 GHz)
- 512MB DDR2 SDRAM (expandable to 1.5 GB)
- 13.3″ WXGA TFT LCD (1280 x 800 resolution)
- Intel GMA 900 Integrated Graphics with up to 128 MB Shared Memory
- 80 GB 5400 RPM Hard Drive
- CD-R/RW & DVD-ROM
- 1 Type II PC Card Slot
- SD Memory Card Slot
- 2 USB Ports, VGA, LAN, Modem Port
- Intel PRO/Wireless 2915ABG
Currently these specifications are the only configuration offered by Sharp. The system RAM is the only area that is upgradeable, and only one slot is available as the system has a 512 MB chip soldered onto the motherboard area of the notebook.
Build and Design of the M4000:
The Sharp M4000 laptop has an all silver finish, giving it a classy, sleek design. The LCD screen uses a magnesium alloy shell. The screen is firmly placed without any rippling or wobbling effect. The rest of the laptop uses a brushed aluminum casing, which again gives it a nice looking finish. The build is firm for the most part; however I did notice some significant creaking and flexing of the shell on the ends of the notebook where the keyboard ends. All of the ports are located on the sides of the laptop, except for the modem jack, which is located on the back. There are no multimedia buttons on the keyboard, except for a power management button.
Sharp lists this notebook as an ultraportable. While the computer is very light, I feel the dimensions placed it somewhere between ultraportable and thin-and-light. The dimensions are as follows: 12.3″ wide x 9.0″ deep x 1.12″ (at its thinnest point) / 1.44″ (at its thickest area). The laptop weighs in at an amazing 3.8 lbs. To me, it feels even lighter than that, this notebook is definitely highly mobile!
Sharp M4000 top view of silver lid (view larger image)
Front side view of Sharp M4000 (view larger image)
Back side view of Sharp M4000 (view larger image)
Left side view of Sharp M4000 (view larger image)
Right side view of Sharp M4000 (view larger image)
Sharp M4000 Screen (view larger image)
The LCD screen of this machine absolutely blew me away. The screen is a 13.3″ wide screen beauty. It has a glossy coating found in many of today’s notebooks, giving images a bright, crisp and vibrant picture. I would say this is one of the brightest and best screens I have ever used. The screen is definitely one of the high points of this computer. As with most glossy screens, there is some noticeable glare when using the product in bright lighting.
Most speakers in this class of laptops tend to be pretty poor. I was pleasantly surprised by the M4000 speakers. The speakers actually produced pretty good sound and didn’t sound too tinny. While not as much bass is produced as speakers found in many desktop replacements, for a thin-and-light notebook, these speakers perform pretty well!
Processor and Performance:
The M4000 uses the latest Intel Pentium M processors. It runs at a quick 1.73 GHz. The laptop seemed pretty fast with most applications I used, even with only 512 MB of RAM. The system uses Intel’s latest integrated graphics. This laptop is definitely not for gamers, but it can play the occasional older game without too much difficulties.
Below are some benchmarks I tested with this notebook to get an idea of the speed of the notebook.
Boot time from power on to Windows XP Desktop:
Sharp M4000 (1.73 GHz Pentium M 740) Boot Time 44 sec
Results for calculating Pi to 2 million digits of accuracy using the program Super Pi.
|Sharp M4000 (1.73 GHz Pentium M)||1m 46s|
|Fujitsu S6231 (1.6 GHz Pentium M)||2m 6s|
|Sony VAIO FS680 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 53s|
|IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 45s|
|Asus Z70A (1.6GHz Pentium M)||1m 53s|
|Fujitsu LifeBook N3510 (1.73 GHz Pentium M)||1m 48s|
|Dell Inspiron 6000D (1.6 GHz Pentium M)||1m 52s|
|Dell Inspiron 600M (1.6 GHz Pentium M)||2m 10s|
|Sony VAIO S360 (1.7 GHz Pentium M)||1m 57s|
|HP DV4170us (Pentium M 1.73 GHz)||1m 53s|
|Sony VAIO S380 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 45s|
|Benchmark Test||Fujitsu S2110 (1.6 GHz AMD Turion MT-28)||Sharp M4000 (1.73GHz Pentium M 740)|
|Multithreaded Test 1 / File Compression||2.425 MB/s||3.237 MB/s|
|Multithreaded Test 1 / File Encryption 24.001 MB/s 23.921 MB/s||24.001 MB/s||25.632 MB/s|
|Multithreaded Test 2 / File Decompression 19.250 MB/s 20.975 MB/s||19.250 MB/s||22.526 MB/s|
|Multithreaded Test 2 / Image Processing||9.621 MPixels/s||10.209 MPixels/s|
|Multithreaded Test 3 / Virus Scanning||1315.836 MB/s||1881.584 MB/s|
|Multithreaded Test 3 / Grammar Check||2.345 KB/s||2.729 KB/s|
|File Decryption||48.158 MB/s||51.464 MB/s|
|Audio Conversion||2049.237 KB/s||2370.293 KB/s|
|Web Page Rendering||3.616 Pages/s||5.307 Pages/s|
|DivX Video Compression||41.023 FPS||47.816 FPS|
|Physics Calculation and 3D||64.558 FPS||94.713 FPS|
|Graphics Memory – 64 Lines||467.296 FPS||483.897 FPS|
3DMark2005 score: 247
Overall, I feel that the Sharp M4000 is a fast notebook for its size. Other than heavy graphical programs, this notebook performs most business applications without difficulty.
After using the notebook for a couple of weeks, I feel that heat dissipation is pretty impressive for a small notebook. The notebook never gets hot and was always comfortable on my lap. Some areas near the battery and memory areas become a little warm, but definitely manageable. I was very impressed with the minimal amount of heat produced by this machine.
The fan does turn on from time to time. However, I did not think the fan noise was overbearing. Occasionally the fan would get somewhat loud when the computer was set at maximum power, but this was rare. Overall, I felt the laptop was pretty quiet.
Keyboard & Touchpad:
I believe the keyboard is the weakest point on this laptop. It has quite a bit of flexing to it, some of the most I’ve seen on any laptop I’ve used. In fact, it almost feels as if the keyboard has a rippling effect to it. It just feels like a cheap keyboard compared to the rest of the notebook. For a classy notebook such as this one, I would have liked to have seen a more solid keyboard.
Keyboard view of the M4000 (view larger image)
The touchpad is your standard touchpad with two buttons. I did feel the touch pad area was a little bit small, but it seemed to perform pretty well.
The M4000 uses Intel’s 2915ABG Wireless LAN. Surprisingly, the reception was not quite as good as the Intel 2200 Wireless LAN that I have in my own laptop. For instance, with my Fujitsu S6231 which uses the Intel 2200, I get excellent reception throughout my house. With the M4000, I would get fair to poor reception if I’m upstairs.
Battery life is by far the strongest aspect of this laptop. The machine uses a 6 cell 7800 mAH battery. The notebook comes with an innovative power management utility created by Sharp. On the top right portion of the keyboard is a button labeled “Mobile.” When pressed, a screen appears allowing the user to choose 3 preset power management levels. “Max Power” leaves the computer at a maximum power and performance state. “Mobile” gives the machine a balance between power management and performance. “Max Mobile” provides ultimate power saving features. You can edit all 3 modes to your liking. You can adjust 11 subsystems which include CPU speed, brightness, WLAN, Optical Drive, System Standby/Hibernate, System Wallpaper, LCD refresh rate, and Audio. This management control is unique and innovative, and I feel is the best feature of this notebook. On “Max Power” I could get close to 4 hours of battery life (this is with wireless on and maximum brightness). On the “Mobile” setting, I would get close to 5 hours. On “Max Mobile” with no Wireless Internet usage, I would get over 6 hours of battery life!! This notebook simply has the best battery life I have seen in a notebook of its class using only one battery! You could easily make a cross-country flight without having to worry about battery life.
The M4000 comes with Windows XP Professional installed. Since this is a review model unit, I am not sure what kinds of discs are actually included with the notebook. One extra feature offered by Sharp is an enhanced InterVideo WinDVD playback program. It contains a feature known as “Sharp-fx” which automatically adjusts the contrast level to provide a vibrant, bright picture when using DVD’s. I did watch Gladiator on this machine and while it indeed looked very bright, I almost felt the picture seemed too pixilated. I did not try any other movies, so perhaps it was the particular movie that I saw.
I did not have any issues with this review model, so I can’t comment on Sharp’s Customer support. They do have a nice website with contact numbers and information. The notebook comes standard with a 1-year warranty.
- Amazing battery life, arguably the best in its class
- Innovative power management schemes
- Gorgeous LCD screen
- Very lightweight and highly mobile
- Good overall performance
- Poor keyboard build
- Notebook comes in only one preset configuration
- No DVD Burner option
- No firewire port, no s-video out port
The Sharp M4000 notebook is the first laptop I have used by this company. I think it is a very good business style notebook. It runs fast and has amazing battery life. My only major complaints are that for such a stylish notebook, I do wish the consumer had more options to choose from when purchasing the notebook. The keyboard could also use some improvement as far as build quality. Overall, if you are looking for a lightweight, highly mobile computer with some of the best battery life in its class, then the Sharp M4000 is definitely a laptop to consider.
Pricing and Availability: Sharp M4000