Sharp's Kitty sits upright

The latest notebook PC from Sharp Systems of America is so small, portable and sleek it's hard to distinguish from a handheld computer, especially when standing up in its slim docking station.

The new Actius PC-MM10 measures only 0.55- or 0.79-inches thick and weighs 2.1 pounds. It has a Transmeta 5800 Crusoe processor instead of a mobile Intel Pentium, and it manages to fit in a 15G hard drive, 256M of double-data-rate RAM and built-in 802.11b WiFi wireless connectivity.

Portability isn't the only advantage of the MM10's small size. Sharp built its docking station vertically for synchronizing files with a desktop system.

When I examined the MM10, I wondered whether I could access for a PC Card drive or CompactFlash card while the system was docked. That would make the card contents available from a desktop system'a valuable feature.

Sharp representatives weren't sure whether the MM10 could do that, so we tried inserting a PC Card, with no success. They promised to see whether such access might be possible in future models.

Despite the tiny chassis, the MM10 has a large, 10.4-inch XGA LCD and a built-in battery pack that is supposed to last three hours.

The PC-MM10, nicknamed the Kitty, works only as an external hard drive on the docking cradle when turned off. A user would have more flexibility by docking the Kitty while powered. Notebooks with Transmeta chips can take as long as 15 minutes to turn off, and it would save a lot of time to have this feature.

Two more good features of the Kitty: It was incredibly quiet, and it could attach to a larger battery pack for a claimed 9.5 hours of life.

These two features, along with a speedy Universal Serial Bus 2.0 port, make the Kitty among the most competitive ultraportable notebooks ever.

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