Origami/ UMPC- the real dirt

38 Comments

There has been no shortage of leaks, half-truths, and buzz around the Origami / UMPC announcements that Microsoft and Intel were promising at CeBIT in Germany. Now that the dust has settled we can finally discuss the facts around the UMPC. First of all, Origami is Microsoft’s internal code name for the Ultra-Mobile PC, or UMPC. All of the teasers from both Microsoft and Intel were pointing to the same thing: the UMPC. So what is the UMPC? The answer probably depends on the individual user. Is it a music and video player? Yes it is. Is it a Tablet PC? Yes it is. Is it a full Windows XP computer in a small, handy form. Yes again. If you break it down the UMPC is a handheld computer with a 7 inch screen that runs full Windows XP Tablet Edition. The screen is a touch screen and to take advantage of that fact Microsoft has developed an interface enhancement for the UMPC, the Touch Pack. Besides looking nice the Touch Pack adds a launcher and other interface designs to make it simple to operate using the fingers. ZDNET posted a video that shows the OS manipulated by drawing simple letters on the screen with a finger, like V for video and P for pictures. It couldn’t get much simpler than that. To augment the Touch Pack Microsoft is utilizing DialKeys by Fortune Fountain which adds circular half keyboards in the two lower corners of the screen. You won’t be typing any novels with DialKeys but it looks extremely handy for typing in the odd URL on the fly or entering a new file name for a document.

Several different OEMs will be releasing UMPCs in the next few weeks, with a few more later in the year. Some of the OEMs will be using Intel processors (both Pentium M and Celerons) and others will be using the new Via C7 processor. I have seen the Via running on handheld devices and it runs circles around the Intel processors speed-wise. Big, honking circles. What is interesting to me is which OEMs are going to produce UMPCs. The first three devices we should see will come from Founder, Samsung, and Asus. I have seen photos of all three of these devices and while similar there are distinct hardware control differences. I must say all three of them look pretty nice to me, although beauty is always in the eyes of the beholder, and gadgets are no exception. A little later this summer we will see UMPCs from TabletKiosk and Paceblade. TabletKiosk are the company that sells Sahara Tablet PCs and touchscreen PCs and I can’t wait to see their offering. Their Sahara Tablets are some of the nicest slates out there and I expect good things from their UMPC.

Microsoft is expecting UMPCs to retail between $599 – $999 depending on the hardware options installed by the OEM. They will be available in retail outlets internationally which is good news for non-US enthusiasts. The hardware in the UMPC will vary slightly from OEM to OEM but all should have a 7 inch (or smaller) screen running at least 800×480, similar to the OQO and DualCor cPC. Higher resolutions will be achieved via hardware or video scaling up to 1024×600. Expect the initial battery life to rival that of laptops, 2.5 – 3 hours typical. Given the hardware components available for such a small device UMPCs should have hard drives from 30 – 60 GB, include WiFi and Bluetooth, and weigh less than 2 pounds. Some OEMs are expected to add integrated cameras and GPS units in addition to the basic features. This first generation of UMPCs will run the Windows XP OS the next wave of devices should run on Vista.

The UMPC is designed to provide a full and rich computing experience no matter where you go through the Tablet PC operating system and the UI enhancements. Couple that with the various connectivity options and hardware control components and you have what can be called a true handheld computer. I can’t wait to get my hands on one of these puppies. Here are a couple of closeup photos of the Samsung UMPC:

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38 Comments

Simon Guerrero

I’ve been using a 770 for several months now (and I did a basic rdesktop port for it) and I’ll confirm all the comments Mike made about its battery life, processing power and stability. BUT — you don’t think a brand new mobile Windows-based device is going to be unstable? Tee hee.

John D Parker

Thanks for the info JK. Does it mean that you can’t put your Treo anywhere near the Fujitsu 1500?
Just kidding. Maybe.

jk

John, the Fujitsu 1500 has palm rejection technology which reportedly works pretty well. I don’t think any of the UMPCs have it so only time will tell.

jk

I hope we see 3G integration at some point. The FCC and the wireless carriers makes approval a very timely and expensive process for OEMs so it is impossible to have state of the art devices with 3G integration.

John D Parker

I’m a bit concerned about the touch screen aspect. I could never get on with Pocket PCs because every time I tried to write on them my hand would touch the screen and make it impossible to write properly on it. Won’t a bigger touch screen just exaberate the problem?
Is this a problem on the Fujitsu 1500?

Cliff

So are we going to see a HSDPA or EVDO enabled Tablet or UMPC anytime soon?

The past marketing campaign has gotten my hopes up.

Mike Cane

Aaron — I hope so. I like the Samsung but want to see full spec sheets on each. Live fondles would help too! The 770 redefines “teh suck.” Shocked me’

Martin

“Matt, I don’t have any word from TabletKiosk but the Mojave may very well be their upcoming UMPC. They make very nice devices, I know that.”

JK, Thank you first off for the positive words on our systems – our UMPC (V-700) – is NOT the Baja – the Baja platform is a 8.4″ device more closely resembling a next generation LS 800. We are targeting a late Q-2 release for the Baja platform. Our V-700 (UMPC platform) will ship by the end of April to customers.

-M

Martin J. Smekal
TabletKiosk

Aaron

Now there’s a Mike Cane rant if I ever saw one. :)

Sorry to hear the 770 didn’t work out for you, Mike. I was initially set on getting one for myself, but the price put me off. Sad to see its performance sucks too.

Is a UMPC your next device?

Mike Cane

And yes, I’m the same guy whose long pre-release 770 fondle report was published here. I’m back to say what it’s *actually* like as an *owner*! Run for your lives!

Daniel

The projected battery life looks very disappointing to me. We have to be getting more than a couple of hours for these devices to be pervasive and useful.

Mike Cane

OK, now I’m bloody *mad*.

The countless eejits chattering around the web have crossed the line once too often. It’s time to set them straight, shove them back from the line, and show them for the eejits they are!

If I read one more time that a UMPC is “just an overpriced Nokia 770,” I will explode!

Anyone who *has* a 770 can tell you straight: The UMPC is *not* a Nokia 770 in any way, shape, or form.

The 770’s Opera browser mysteriously goes Poof! and suddenly disappears while browsing. I don’t think this will happen with a UMPC.

A site such as Palm Addict takes *over two minutes* to load on a 770. I think it will be a few seconds on a UMPC.

The 770 cannot display embedded video on sites such as Google Video or YouTube. A UMPC can.

The 770 cannot play DiVX/Xvid AVI or QuickTime video. A UMPC will.

The 770 has no browser plug in for FURL. No problem for a UMPC.

Forget word processing on a 770. Its Notes program chokes on as little as 10K of text. And the one free real WP program that’s available is hardly useable because the contortions someone has to go through to have a reliable working keyboard for WP just aren’t worth going through. A UMPC can use any USB or Bluetooth keyboard easily, and there are tons of WP programs available — not just *one*.

Yesterday the 770 I’ve been using for several months had to be rebooted *six times* because of its weak CPU and pathetic RAM. In my first hour of using it this morning I had a crash and reboot. This is its *typical day*. Crash, reboot, crash, reboot. I had a Toshiba GENIO Pocket PC — something infamous for its PPC 2002 OS instability. The 770 is a step *down* from that. Most of you don’t want to know what I call my 770. It is filthy and obscene. *Yet deserved!*

The 770 has a 200MHz CPU with 64MB of RAM. A UMPC will have a 900MHz-1+GHz CPU and most will have half a gig of RAM. If you are *still* dumb enough to think a UMPC is just a larger 770, take your desktop machine and put it in your closet. Replace it with a desktop PC that shares the specs of the 770. Then tell me how the second desktop is just like your original one — only cheaper!

I will be *glad* to exchange the *dysfunctionality* of a 770 for a UMPC with *real* usefulness, *speed*, *compatibility* with all web pages, and the ability to hook up any peripheral.

You eejits harping about the 770 don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. So shut up! shut up! shut up!

And as for UMPC being “overhyped” — baloney. It takes being traumatized by something like the 770 before you can *appreciate* a UMPC. What’s that you say? — it’s just another kind of Sony VAIO U *at less than half the price*? Just what I want! Thank you, Intel and Microsoft!!

Cliff

I believe that what’s missing is the Tablet PC OS will support a touchscreen. Previous Tablet PC’s required screens that had to meet Microsoft’s exact specifications, were more expensive and couldn’t be used with your fingers.

Also with the marketing they’re delivering I they will get a lot more volume. When you have a lot more volume you can offer things cheaper. I think Motion Computing has too much overhead to compete with the LS800 at that price.

My initial comment about being unimpressed was motivated by this: I’ve been watching these videos they’ve been releasing, which contained people out in the forest or in the mall doing things that require the internet or a high speed connection. I assumed they would include evdo or hsdpa. Then I woke up this morning and viewed the newly released specs, but discovered they seemed a lot like stuff thats been available for quite a while like a flybook, ls800, etc….

Suddenly, I’m not running out to go by one. I’m waiting until they include one with high speed internet like I have been waiting for the past 6 months.

John

So if a LS800 costs $1699 and a UMPC costs under $1,000, what is missing? I’d think that if manufacturers like Motion could sell their tablets for under $1,000 and still make a profit, they would.

jk

Matt, I don’t have any word from TabletKiosk but the Mojave may very well be their upcoming UMPC. They make very nice devices, I know that.

Scoobie, you’re correct, I am excited about the 7 inch screen. While the 5 inch screen on the U is very nice a little bigger wouldn’t hurt.

scoobie

Jk looks like all your work of evangalising the 7 inch handheld form factor with tablet OS is done! It can’t possibly fail from here.

I’m holding on for the 2nd generation with Vista, 3G wireless, GPS and an integrated keyboard and those economies of scale that will give more the the price.

This intel site features a few mockups with integrated keyboard so I presume someone will pick these ideas up as the form factors look great.

http://umpc.com/video.aspx

The channel 9 video definately says more compact versions are on there way, current versions look a little bulky, an inch off would seem perfect.

Matt

JK –

Can we assume this is what has ultimately become of the TabletKiosk “Mojave” they’ve been showing as “coming soon” since last May or so? Or is their upcoming UMPC something completely different and we can still expect an LS800-like machine?
Also, I’d add one thing to the LS800 discussion (as an owner). Note the default screen resolution for the UMPC is less than the LS800. Hopefully, MS has tweaked up the OS to support this, because it’s a little rough around the edges in its support for SVGA. A lot of people fussed about how small SVGA was when the LS800 arrived, so I’d expect to hear more of that (although SVGA really is fine on the LS800, trust me!). Also, it is possible on the LS800 to put it in a screen panning mode that gives you much more real estate (not sure if this is the same as the “hardware or video scaling” you mention); however, since this is unsupported, it gets a bit tricky to use as far as the pen calibration.
Do you know if the this presumably modified version of XP Tablet will run on existing (i.e. non-UMPC) tablets? Might be interesting to try it out on an LS800, particularly if it helps smooth out some of those “rough edges.”

Matt

Alslayer

Man these devices look so sweet. They look like the perfect student devices. Too bad I am out of college for the most part. I do have a few night classes.

jk

One of the key elements to mobile devices like the Sony U and now the UMPCs for me anyway is the h/w button interface with D-Pad (or joypad) that allows you to do quick and dirty things without pulling out the stylus. This is a key differentiator between the UMPC and the LS800 in my view. It was the single thing I detested about trying to do quick things on the OQO.

Todd

jk,

You’re dead-on about the price and screen, but…they’re both Tablet OS, both can have “totathe same RAM (LS800 can go to 1GB), both have WiFi and Bluetooth, both are about the same size. I think it’s appropriate to think that the LS800 and the UMPC are pretty similar. Granted we don’t have all the info on the UMPC yet.

Cliff

Thank you for the clarification.

Touch screen is the main difference then.

Going to need a screen protector ;)

jk

Cliff, this is a totally different animal than the LS800. Touch screen IMHO is critical for a device to be operated by hand. There is no easier way to manipulate the UI than with the fingertip when you are on the go. It’s what I missed most about the Sony U with the touchscreen. These devices will also be about $700 – $1000 cheaper than the LS800. How is this the same?

Cliff

Am I missing something? What’s the difference between these and a Motion Computing LS800?

They just remarket something that already exists in the marketplace, except they increase the volume and lower the price?

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