As the market for portable computers gets ever more innovative, Sharp has come up with a new take on the notebook, allowing its latest laptop to double up as an external hard drive.

When switched off, the MM1-1 notebook, which is part of Sharp's Mebius Muramasa series, can be placed in a cradle allowing a desktop computer access to its hard drive via USB 2.0.

"Using a notebook PC as a hard disk drive is something new and consumers are choosing the MM1-1 series because of this function," said Sharp spokesman Masaaki Takeda. The company plans to introduce the MM1-1 series' hard disk drive function in future products, he confirmed.

This extra functionality is designed to help business users access the data held on their notebook PCs both in the office and on the road.

The MM1-1 is powered by an 867MHz Transmeta Crusoe TM5800 processor, and comes with 256MB of RAM, a 15GB hard drive and a 10.4in screen. It measures 251x206x14mm, weighs 950g and offers various networking options.

It will be available in Japan from 22 January. Pricing will depend on the options chosen, but will be approximately ¥170,000 (£884). Sharp is planning to launch the MM1-1 overseas sometime next year, but no details have been released yet.