Sharp launches latest Transmeta notebooks

Sharp has unveiled the latest in its line of low-power, light and slim notebook computers based on processors from Transmeta.

The Mebius Muramasa PC-MM1-H3 is a faster version of a machine launched in October last year and now features a Transmeta TM5800 processor running at 1GHz, Sharp said on Friday. The USB (Universal Serial Bus) has also been upgraded from version 1.1 to the new and much faster version 2.0 while other major specifications stay the same.

They include 256M bytes of DDR (double data rate) DRAM (dynamic RAM), a 15G-byte hard disk drive, 10.4-inch XGA resolution TFT (thin film transistor) display and built-in Fast Ethernet (100Base-T/10Base-T) and wireless LAN (IEEE802.11b). The machine's standard battery provides enough power for 3.1 hours of use while a medium-size battery pack extends this to 5.7 hours and a large-size battery pack to 9.5 hours, according to Sharp measurements based on Japanese industry standards.

The computer also supports Sharp's new docking station that allows data to be synchronized while the machine is in standby or hibernate mode.

The computer will be available in the domestic market later in January in two versions both including the Windows XP Home operating system. The PC-MM1-H3W will be priced at around ¥170,000 (US$1,445) and the PC-MM1-H3S, which includes Office XP, will cost around ¥190,000.

Sharp's use of the Transmeta chip makes the new machine the latest in a growing line of notebook computers from the Osaka company to feature the processors. Japan, where notebook computers outsell desktop machines, has proved to be Transmeta's most lucrative market and was where it chalked up 65 percent of its sales in the third quarter of its fiscal year 2002, according to the company.

Launch of the new machine comes in the same week that Transmeta announced it had found a new customer in Asia. Tsinghua Unisplendour Group in Beijing, China, will use an 800MHz version of the TM5800 chip in a notebook computer targeted at women. The company is the second Chinese notebook maker to pick Transmeta after SVA Group did the same in October last year.

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Martyn Williams.

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