Note that the SL-C860 replaced
the C760 in late Nov. 2003. In 2004 the Zaurus
C3000 and C1000 replaced the C860.
by Lisa Gade, Editor in Chief, posted Sept.
Like other PDA fans, I was very excited when
I heard about the Sharp Zaurus C700 series. A 640 x 480 landscape
display, roomy keyboard and attractive clamshell design— yeehah!
But then those of us in the US were sorely disappointed to learn
that Sharp had decided not to sell it in the US. For those of us
who think this PDA is just what the doctor ordered, Dynamism has
come to the rescue, selling the C760 in the US, converted to English.
Dynamism is a US company that specializes in importing the latest,
greatest notebooks and gadgets normally only available in Asia.
They do the language conversion for you and handle tech support,
and they were kind enough to send us a C760 to review. If you're
looking for a PDA with a large, absolutely gorgeous display and
one of the best keyboards around, read on.
Linux, Sharp Style
Like the Sharp Zaurus SL-5600 which is available
in the US, the C760 runs Linux (Metrowerks OpenPDA version 1 and
Qtopia for OpenPDA v. 1.5.4 and a linux embedix kernel compiled
by Sharp). It also comes with a Java virtual machine (Insignia
Jeode). This makes for a powerful machine that's quite versatile
and extensible unit, especially if you're a Linux guru. The terminal
application allows you to issue Linux commands, edit config files
and all that great stuff. If you're not a Linux guru and prefer
to never see a command line, have no fear: the Zaurus line comes
with a complete set of user-friendly PIM (contacts, calendar, tasks)
apps and much more, making it an easy unit to use.
However, the C760 isn't for novice users
who are unfamiliar with PDAs. This has nothing to do with the
unit itself, but rather the fact that the manual is in Japanese,
and the help files pre-installed in the Zaurus haven't been translated,
so you'll see box symbols instead of Japanese or English characters.
The C760 comes with PC syncing software that also hasn't been
translated, and most of the onscreen text on the PC also appears
as gibberish rather than Japanese or English. Installing Japanese
language support in Windows won't remedy this. If you're already
familiar with standard PDA applications, know a CF slot from
an SD slot, and can find the power jack (not too hard!) on the
Zaurus, then go for it. Of course, if you're a Japanese speaker,
you'll also do well! If you've previously owned a Sharp Zaurus SL-5500 or SL-5600,
then you're on your way to knowing the in's and out's of the
C760.Dynamism now has a 28 page
basic manual in PDF format available for customers who purchase
a C7xx series model. The manual explains the various controls,
buttons and keyboard settings, along with resetting the unit,
replacing the battery and navigating the file system.
The Zaurus closed.
The C760 with the display
swiveled to tablet mode, portrait orientation.
If you're comfortable with the command line under Linux,
you can do your own English language conversion following instructions
found here and there on the Net. For most folks, the additional $100
Dynamism adds to the price of a Japanses unit plus the support and warranty
they offer will be worth the charge.
The C760 has a 400 MHz PXA255 XScale processor, which
is currently the top-of-the-line for PDAs. It's got 64 megs of system
SDRAM (used like RAM in your PC) and 128 megs of storage ram, of which
~69 megs are available for you to store programs and files. The unit
feels fast in all operations, and is supposed to be the fastest of the
C700 series models.
Design and Ergonomics
The Zaurus C760 looks like a highly miniaturized notebook
PC. It's surprisingly portable, and is in the same general ballpark as
the iPAQ 5500 series and Sony
Clié NX80V. The unit can be used in clamshell (notebook style)
mode or you can swivel and rotate the display to use the Zaurus in tablet
mode in portrait orientation. The screen hinge is stiff, so the display
won't flop around when using it in clamshell mode. It locks open with
the unit nearly flat, and I would have preferred an additional lock with
the screen in a more upright position. That said, the unit won't accidentally
open flat to the locked position when pressing the screen with a stylus.
However, you may need to support the display area if you press heavily
when using handwriting recognition.
Below, the Sharp Zaurus C760 left, and
the Sony Clié UX50 right.
The screen is absolutely fabulous, and is one of the
best I've seen on a PDA or any other mobile device. It uses CG Silicon
technology (Continuous Grain Silicon ) which is supposed to be smaller,
thinner and more energy efficient. The screen is quite bright and extremely
color saturated. Viewing images on it is a pleasure, and despite the
large number of pixels crammed into the 3.7" LCD, text remains sharp
and very readable. And it's still a rare pleasure to find a PDA with
VGA (640 x 480) resolution. This makes for a wonderful web browsing experience
using the included NetFront.
However, if your eyes are older or not very good, you
may suffer eyestrain, despite the sharpness of the display. Text is quite
small, and though you can increase the text size in Hancom Office and
NetFront, that does defeat the point of having a high resolution display.
The keyboard on the C760 is my absolute favorite. It's
the roomiest of any current PDA with the exception of the much larger NEC
MobilePro 900, which isn't really in the PDA category. Compared to
the Sony Clié UX50 & UX40,
this keyboard's keys are easier to press, have greater spacing (since
the Zaurus is larger than the UX) and offer a bit more tactile feedback.
Of course, they don't light up as do the UX and recent NX Clié keyboards.
The Sharp C760 has a soft membrane keyboard rather than the hard plastic
chicklet-keys kind. The Zaurus has a full English keyboard, a dedicated
number row, arrow keys for navigation, OK and Cancel buttons, and quick
launch keys for the calendar, address book, mail application, as well
as buttons for Home and menu activation. To enter punctuation and common
symbols, you'll use the single function key in conjunction with one of
the keyboard keys. Some of the function key items are in Japanese, but
you do have a fairly full set of English characters and symbols at your
disposal. You can also use the function key for cut, paste and copy functions,
and there's a cap lock key. Thumb typing is a breeze on this keyboard,
and when placed on the table, you can even do a slow version of touch
The Sharp C760 comes with a 1700 mA Lithium Ion battery.
This is a larger battery than the C700 and C750 models had. Since the
battery pack is thicker and sticks out a bit on the bottom, Sharp has
added a white plastic cover that covers the entire bottom of the PDA
making for an even surface, rather than having a bulge in the battery
section. You could also run the lower capacity standard battery, in which
case you wouldn't use the white bottom plate, but instead use the silver
plastic battery door which is included. This will reduce the thickness
of the unit by 5mm.
The battery easily lasted me through the day when I
used the PIM apps, Hancom Word, played some games and surfed for an hour.
If you use WiFi continuously, you should get at least 3 hours run time
(this will vary depending on the power efficiency of the card you use
and the signal strength of your access point).
The underside of the Zaurus C760, with
the white plastic cover removed so you can see the battery.
Compatibility and Expandability
The Zaurus has both an SD slot and a CF type
II slot that can accommodate type I and type II expansion cards.
Memory cards work fine, and I tried several CF WiFi cards that
worked without additional drivers: Ambicom, D-Link and Socket (though
the Socket didn't get a strong signal in the C760). The network
configuration utility is very friendly and easy to use, and you
should be able to get online with the Z in no time.
Many Zaurus apps written for the SL-5500 and
SL-5600 models worked fine, with the exception of several games.
Since these models have 240 x 320 displays, the Zaurus will run
its display at 240 x 320 for these apps. All of the included applications
run full screen on the C760, and there are some 3rd party apps
that also support full screen display.
If you've used other Sharp Zaurus models running
Linux in the past, then the OS and included applications will
no doubt be familiar. Dynamism has done a great job converting
the unit to English, and pretty much everything but the help
files have been translated. The C760 uses the same launcher as
the SL-5500 and SL-5600, and has most of the same applications,
including an email client that supports multiple accounts and
both IMAP4 and POP3 protocols, an MP3 player, video player, Terminal
(have a blast with the command line and the Z's bash shell),
a text editor, image viewer and editor, voice recorder (though
I couldn't find the built-in mic on the Z), a camera app (should
you buy the accessory digicam module), and more. Of course, the
unit comes with standard PIM apps: calendar, ToDo list, and an
address book. Note that the address book doesn't sort on the
English alphabet, and the quick-navigation tabs don't have A-Z,
but rather tabs such as "ai", "ka", "sa" and
so on, which works great if all your acquaintances are Japanese .
You also get the capable Hancom Mobile Office Suite which allows
you to view and edit MS Word, Excel and powerPoint documents.
For Internet browsing, Sharp has included the excellent NetFront
v.3 web browser, rather than Opera, which is found on the SL-5500
and 5600 models sold in the US. NetFront supports most all current
web standards and allows you to open multiple windows.
The C760 comes with desktop syncing software
that's in Japanese, and as mentioned earlier, is not readable
even for Japanese speakers. It looks to be a combination of the
usual Qtopia desktop by Trolltech,
Intellisync, and some Sharp applications for such things as capturing
your PC's screen on the Zaurus. As mentioned, the Z did connect
via USB using this software, but I really couldn't tell what
was what, even after playing with the software. Dynamism does
provide support for the Zaurus, so you can give them a call if
you'd like them to walk you through installation and use of the
software. One easy method for syncing to Outlook in Windows is
to download the SL-5500 3.1 ROM update which includes an English
version of Intellisync. That version plays nicely with the C7xx
series, but be sure to use the C7xx drivers that came on your
CD rather than those in the ROM update when Windows prompts you
If you're interested in additional software
for the Zaurus line, killefiz.de/zaurus and docs.zaurus.com/feed are
good places to start. The former gives you descriptions of the
software and is categorized, while the later is a file listing
which can also be accessed on the C760 (you can use it as an "Install
packages via networks" location. Among commercial software
makers supporting the C760, theKompany.com is
probably the biggest and one of the best.
The Zaurus is larger as you can see from
the photos below, but is really an average sized PDA, while
the UX is amazingly small.
The display on the Z is much better in
terms of saturation and resolution (640 x 480 vs. 480 x 320).
The keyboard on the Zaurus is better.
The Zaurus has an SD and CF type II expansion
slot, while the UX has a Memory Stick slot.
Hardware wise, the Zaurus wins. However,
the selection of Zaurus software, especially that which takes
advantage of the high resolution display is slim, while there
are an amazing number of Palm applications available, and
some are already supporting the UX in full screen mode.
The UX comes with very reliable syncing
software that's in English. The SL-C760 comes with Japanese
syncing software that displays with a lot of garbage characters
when run on English Windows, and other syncing software from
other Zaurus models many not prove reliable.
If you want the best hardware, and you're
happy with the software that's pre-installed on the Zaurus,
and aren't terribly interested in syncing your PIM data,
go with the C760.
If you do need to sync docs and PIM data
reliably and easily, and would like to take advantage of
the wealth of Palm OS software that's available, go with
the UX40 or UX50.
Pro: This is an amazing piece of hardware! Wonderful
VGA display is a rare find among PDAs, fast processor and a good
amount of memory, dual expansion slots, easy networking setup,
great keyboard, good English conversion. Very friendly and useful
set of inlcuded applications for PIM, Office and multimedia needs.
And all this fits in the palm of your hand! Con: Manual and CD
are in Japanese, as is the syncing software. Sharp should've built
in WiFi on this perfect mini-Net surfer. Not a great selection
of Zaurus Linux software available, though much of what is available
is free or inexpensive.
list price $799.
Includes English conversion, unit, USB sync cable, charger,
extended battery, Japanese printed manual and CD ROM.
Display: 3.7" TFT
CG Silicon display color LCD, 64,000 colors. Semi-transmissive,
backlit. Resolution: 640 x 480.
Lithium Ion rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable.
This battery is the extended battery, Sharp also
makes a smaller capacity battery.
PXA255 400 MHz XScale processor. 128 megs of RAM
for storage, ~ 69 of which is available to the user
and 64 MB program memory.
Size: 4.25" x
3.25" x 1.0 at thickest point of hinge, .8" for
the rest of the unit. Weight Approximately 9.5 ounces
(120 x 83 x 23.6mm.Weight: 250 grams).
operating system (OpenPDA). Calendar, Address Book,
To-Do, and Memo apps, Hancom Office suite: Word processor
compatible with Word docs, spreadsheet app compatible
with Excel files, NetFront v.3 web browser, E-mail
program supporting POP3, SMTP, IMAP4 protocols, ImagePad
image viewer and editor, Video Player (MPEG4), Music
Player for MP3s, Voice Recorder, Text Editor, Calculator,
Clock, City Time and more. Java runtime included.
in speaker, and 3.5mm stereo headphone jack.
SD (Secure Digital) slot. 1 CF type II slot. IR port.