['Willcom D4' UMPC] Size, Weight Balanced Well [Part 2]

Jul 23, 2008
Masao Oonishi, Nikkei Microdevices
1. Touch panel style
1. Touch panel style
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2. Keyboard style
2. Keyboard style
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3. Laptop style
3. Laptop style
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Using the D4 like a laptop, which I felt most comfortable with
Using the D4 like a laptop, which I felt most comfortable with
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Continued from ['Willcom D4' UMPC] 8 Problems Crops Up [Part 1].

The D4 is the lightest class Windows Vista notebook PC. Compared with 532g of Sony Corp's "VGN-UX92N" U series Windows Vista laptop, the D4 weighs only 460g. The U series measures 150.2 (w) x 95 (h) x 32.2-38.2mm (d). The D4, which measures approximately 188 x 84 x 25.9mm, is slightly wider than the U series, but using it did not tire me much thanks to its light weight.

Raon Digital Co Ltd's "Everun" is an XP notebook PC that measures (170 x 83 x 25mm) and weighs (460-500g) almost the same as the D4. Compared with the Everun, which features keyboard buttons on its surface, the D4 can be placed in a pocket more easily because its surface is almost flat. The D4's flatness is emphasized even more with each of the various interfaces being covered.

Touch panel style operation using a touch panel, keyboard style operation, which uses the thumbs for typing and both hands for holding the keyboard and laptop style operation, which is similar to operating a standard PC, are available. I felt the keyboard style allows the smoothest typing among the three styles.

Although the touch panel allows soft keyboard and handwritten input functions, the soft keyboard felt quite small. As the keyboard on the front houses a backlight system, key top letters were faintly bathed in dim light.

I was holding high hopes for laptop style operation as a former Libretto 60 user, but touch typing on the desk was quite difficult due to its employment of dome keys. To the contrary, keyboard style operation allowed smooth typing as I could hold the device with both hands placing it on my laps when sitting with my legs crossed. It seemed I could even type while standing.

Using keyboard style, both thumbs are used for typing. The key pitch is 12mm. It is 18mm with standard PCs and 13mm with the Libretto 60. With the D4, touch typing using all fingers was difficult, but typing with two thumbs was also hard because the central keys felt slightly far apart (perhaps my thumbs might be a little short).

In addition, the keyboard features only one Ctrl key, which is on the left side of the unit. Therefore, when you enter the "Ctrl" + "S" (save) command, which can be described as an essential operation when I use a PC, you need to press the S key on the left side on the keyboard with your right thumb, while ridiculously holding the D4 with your right hand. Copy and paste operations are the same.

Incidentally, in the era of the Libretto 60, I used to be proud of the fact that I could write documents by touch typing in my own way, using all of the fingers on my right hand and the thumb and index finger on my left.