First UMPCs Shown; More Origami Details

    March 7, 2006

Intel revealed, to an extent, the first Ultra Mobile PCs. CNet has a picture of the device, which has a 7-inch screen, x86 processor, and runs full versions of modern operating systems.

It isn’t an Origami, but:

can run full versions of desktop operating systems including the Windows XP variant being used for Origami.

Well, that is interesting. So, basically Origami refers to the operating system, a version of Windows XP, presumably redesigned to run on 7-inch screens (and run Windows apps properly on those screens), while UMPC is the type of device. All of these devices are UMPCs, but not all run Origami. Some will even come with regular XP, presumably, and Intel says they run Linux as well.

The initial UMPCs are beyond dissapointing. If you were to buy one right now, you’d get 15 minutes of battery life. This is because Intel has planned the prototypes based on their predicted technology curve, relying on future low-power hardware to base the eventual products on. Hype, don’t deliver.

Generation one UMPCs will get 3-hours of battery life as targeted, and Intel hopes batteries will be able to last all day “probably next year or later”. Don’t expect that anytime soon. If we’re lucky, they’ll get it up to five or six hours in 18 months, my prediction. Intel also hopes to get the price down to $500 in that same time frame, which is closer to realistic than the battery claim.

The key feature of the new devices, Graff said, is the ability to get the full Internet, with plug-ins and other advanced Web features. Entertainment-including music, movies and TV-is probably the second biggest selling point, he said.

Although Intel has consumers in mind for the Ultra Mobile PCs, Graff said he expects technology enthusiasts, as well as some niche business and education customers, to be the most likely buyers of the first generation of devices, which will sell for under $1,000.

“We expect this to be a real consumer product and to do that, you have to be able to hit real consumer price points,” he said.

Intel also found in its testing that the devices appeal to active mothers, who, the chipmaker learned, have schedules similar to corporate road warriors.

“It was something we didn’t expect,” Graff said.

The UMPC pictured is running Yahoo Go TV and has nine face buttons. It isn’t slick or sleek by any stretch of the imagination, but if the functionality is there, that’s what matters most. There’s another device pictured, one that hides a keyboard and “navigation panel” that slides out.

Karen Said says CNBC was showing exclusive prototypes of Origami devices today.

The mobile PCs were about the size of a paperback book. One had a keyboard hidden behind the display, and another had a swiveling screen.

Whatisnew has a transcript of the report and some photos.

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Nathan Weinberg writes the popular InsideGoogle blog, offering the latest news and insights about Google and search engines.

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