Sharp Design

By Jason Brooks  |  Posted 2002-04-22 Print this article Print

Sharp Design

Sharp has done a great job with the hardware design of the SL-5500. At 2.9 inches wide by 5.4 inches long by 0.7 inches thick, and weighing 6.8 ounces, the Zaurus possesses roughly the same footprint as Pocket PC devices. However, the Zaurus is one of the few devices to pack both Secure Digital and Type 2 CompactFlash expansion slots into its chassis, and the Zaurus is the only so-equipped palmtop also to boast a QWERTY thumb keyboard.

We found the keyboard, which resembles those found in Research In Motion Ltd. BlackBerry and Handspring Inc. Treo handhelds, to be very usable, particularly when entering longish messages or when working with the SL-5500s terminal application. Whats more, we could retract the keyboard when not in use, and we could also opt for any of four other pen-based mechanisms for entering data as well.

The SL-5500 is built with a 240-by-320-pixel, 65,536-color reflective LCD display, similar to those in the latest color Palm OS and Pocket PC devices. As with the displays in those devices, the Zaurus screen is viewable in bright sunlight.

The SL-5500 is powered by a removable lithium-ion battery, from which Sharp promises 10 hours of battery life, depending on use. When we tested the Zaurus by playing MP3s on the device with its backlight turned off, the SL-5500s batteries lasted for 4 hours—this is similar to what weve experienced with multimedia playback on Pocket PC devices.

The Zaurus features a stereo headphone jack but no external speaker beyond a simple buzzer for alarms and such.

We were able to synchronize the Zaurus SL-5500 with Microsoft Outlook using the Universal Serial Bus cradle and Zaurus-tailored version of Pumatech Inc.s Intellisync software that ships with the device. The Zaurus depends on TCP/IP for synchronization, so users may need to re- configure or disable desktop firewall applications, such as the one that ships with Windows XP, to synchronize.

In addition to its Opera Web browsers, the Sharp device ships with software from HancomLinux Inc. for viewing and editing Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents in their native formats.

Technical Analyst Jason Brooks can be reached at

As Editor in Chief of eWEEK Labs, Jason Brooks manages the Labs team and is responsible for eWEEK's print edition. Brooks joined eWEEK in 1999, and has covered wireless networking, office productivity suites, mobile devices, Windows, virtualization, and desktops and notebooks. JasonÔÇÖs coverage is currently focused on Linux and Unix operating systems, open-source software and licensing, cloud computing and Software as a Service. Follow Jason on Twitter at jasonbrooks, or reach him by email at

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