I have a bit of a correction to make. I said the other day that the fairly new replacement battery for my Sharp M4000 WideNote had died much too quickly, and I had thus concluded that I needed to replace the whole laptop. Going back over the records, the picture isn't so bleak. Turns out the first battery for this laptop lasted me about 18 months, and I've had this second one for about 14 months. I could probably milk another couple of months out of this second battery before absolutely needing to replace it; that's what I did with the first one. So all told, their lifespans weren't that different.
Given how I use my laptop, they weren't too bad, either. I abuse the battery in many ways. The thing is turned on 24x7. Multiple times each day, I'll unplug it for 15-30 minutes, drain the battery just a bit, and then plug it back in to charge. Etcetera. Imagine bad things.
So I may just order another battery and keep this thing 'til it croaks. My only worry is the fact that the second battery, which I ordered direct from Sharp, came from the same lot as the original. Sharp still sells batteries direct via the web, but we may be running into shelf-life issues on a third one, if it's of the same vintage. Then again, I'd surely order another one even if I did replace this laptop for myself. Someone else around here could still use it.
Which brings me to another point. After over two and a half years of 24x7 operation, tens of thousands of travel miles, and tens of thousands of words composed, the WideNote has proven itself to be an exceptionally reliable and durable little machine. It still has one of the best displays I've ever seen on a laptop, and at 3.7 lbs and five-and-a-half real-world hours of run time with a new battery, it's still nearly state of the art in the ways that matter most to me. Sharp seems to have dropped out of the U.S. notebook market almost entirely after the M4000, but they hit a home run in their final at-bat.
Fortunately, replacing the WideNote with something similar should be fairly straightforward whenever I decide to pull the trigger, and that brings me to a lil' bit o' bragging. The M4000 was one of the first ultraportable-class, sub-four-pound, 13.3" laptops, and there weren't many other choices in that class when I bought it. Matching a wide-aspect display with the width of a full-size keyboard layout made a lot of sense to me, and I had this to say about it at the time: "It's a simple formula, really, and I know Sony and a few others sell laptops with similar dimensions. Still, I'm amazed by how practically correct the WideNote seems to be. I expect laptops of this size to become more popular, and more common, in the future." Since then, of course, we've seen the MacBook Air and ThinkPad X300 series become symbols of ultimate mobile prowess, as the Reality Distortion Field has enveloped this form factor, granting it an angelic glow. Just wanted to say: called it!