User Review – Joe
SUMMARY: A nice buy used for about $700-$800.
I reported earlier on my little laptop, a Sharp Actius PC-A280 – perfect for light duty use on the road (I since replaced this with a PC-A290 – same mobo but with a 1024 x 768 LCD instead of 800 x 600 – very hard to find). As I found the LCD one of the best around, I decided I wanted a bit more power and after some research, decided a used Sharp MV12W would do nicely.
Sharp MV12W Specs:
- Intel PIII-M, 1.13 GHz
- 256 MB SDRAM 133, add up to RAM 768 MB
- Bus speed 133 MHz
- 40 GB HD
- Windows XP Pro
- CD-RW 24 24 10, DVD 8x, Plug-in module
- Sharp’s estimated battery life: 3 hours
- 56 Kbps ITU V.90 modem
- Ethernet, IEEE 802.11b, Fast Ethernet
- Audio compliant with AC ’97
- Intel 830MG chipset
- 12.1″ TFT active matrix LCD, 1024 x 768 native resolution
- 48 MB Video RAM, 24-bit (16.7M colors)
- 2 USB 1.1, 1 FireWire, 1 Ethernet 10Base-T/100Base-TX, 1 Modem Phone line, 1 Parallel EPP/ECP, 1 Video VGA, 1 S-Video, 1 Microphone, 1 Audio SPDIF output
- 1 CardBus, type II; 1 Open memory slot
- 9.4″ x 11.1″ x 1.1″
- 4.2 lbs with CD
The unit I have has 512 MB RAM – I really did not see the need for more, although it is the cheapest upgrade for any PC. Note that the video RAM is not shared – this favorably impacts performance compared to sharing. I trolled eBay and when one came up, I bought it for just under $800 – at the time, Sharp was selling reconditioned units for $1,100, so this was not a bad buy (although with any eBay purchase, caveat emptor).
As it turns out, not much! One characteristic of laptops is that with space at a premium, the motherboard is pretty compact – and non-standard. Note the real estate required for the battery, CD and PCMCIA slot.
One of the reasons laptops cost more than desktops is due to the custom engineering required to shoe-horn circuitry into a tight space; unfortunately for the consumer, diversity such as this costs money.
Space constraints also exact a toll on heatsink sizing:
Compare this heatsink to Thermalright’s XP-90:
I think you get some idea as to why most laptops use mobile CPUs; I think you can also get some sense of the cooling challenge you might run into if you try to overclock a laptop – I have never seen an after-market heatsink for any laptop.
The heatsink (as in many laptops) is a heatpipe:
I also found that the bolts are spring-loaded:
The CPU – an Intel P3 1.13 MHz:
This laptop has a built-in WiFi – the antennas are located on the side of the LCD:
Doesn’t take much.
I have been pleased with this unit – I use it every day for editing material for the site (more convenient to work in the family room), which includes using Photoshop, Homesite and FTPing material to the server. In addition I use it for the internet and word processing – all in all, light duty.
I also use a Vantec LapCool2 – set on low, fan noise is slight and the unit’s fan ticks along at its lowest setting – noiseless.
In comparison testing I have seen, the Sharp MV12W holds its own against the likes of Sony VAIO PCG-R505GL, etc, laptops in the same size range, so overall it’s a competitive unit. According to CNET, battery life is quite good as well – I purchased the extended battery on eBay for about $50 and I can just about use it all the way to Europe – about 6 – 7 hours, depending on what you’re doing.
I use an external keyboard and mouse, not so much because the unit’s keyboard is deficient, but I like to have the screen just beyond a comfortable arm’s reach; I also am not a touchpad fan and much prefer a mouse for extended use, in this case a Logitech wireless. I also use a Vantec USB hub because I use a compact flash card a lot and the extra USB slots come in handy.
I took this unit on a trip to Taiwan and I guess I’m spoiled – I found it a bit on the heavy side to carry compared to my small PCA-290, even though the extra power was nice to have. However, if you’re used to a 6 or 7 pound unit, this is a real lightweight. For most of the time I travel, I use the PCA-290.
For what I wanted – a relatively small laptop but with enough power for “normal” use – a used Sharp MV12W meets my needs nicely. I have used this for about a year now and I’m quite pleased with it. Compared to spending about twice as much for a new unit, this has proved to be a good buy.
If you’re into gaming or a power user, this is not a unit to consider, but for “normal” use, this size/performance laptop is not a bad way to go.